A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away....
....millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced.
Astronomers trawling through the archives of the Parkes Radio Telescope have turned up a new and mystifying class of intergalactic radio transmissions: FRBs, or fast radio bursts. Similar but not identical to the well-known gamma ray bursts, FRBs appear as flashes that descend through a bunch of wavelengths (from shorter to …
If it turns out that local environment does affect the value of alpha and alpha is actually variable rather than constant as previously thought, that is a newly discovered law of physics - but it has always been true. Laws are laws and always are, it is only our understanding of them which changes.
They might. We don't really know.
You are assuming that the conditions that give rise to physical laws are time invariant and that the universe is basically deterministic. If reality really is quantum then a phase change leading to a new set of basic conditions (and yes, new laws) is not impossible - It may be wildly improbable but give it a really hot cup of tea and ..
semantics dear boy.
WE start our science with a presupposition that there are immutable things out there. Natural laws.
Because amongst the chaos there seems to be Order.
None of the above are provably true however. They are just where we make a start.
Actually alpha is variable. It depends on the energy of the interaction. This is an experimental fact.
Interestingly, the description of the strong force does not have an equivalent of alpha, I hear. It is "self-contained". That's the way it should be. There may be big holes in the electromagnetic force.
And as it is Friday, for those who want to have fun with numbers: Alpha and Electro-weak Coupling
It is shown that the fine structure constant alpha has the same value that "characterises" a relation, denoted by alpha_137(29*137), between a representation of the cyclic group of order 29*137 and the induced representation for the cyclic subgroup of order 137. The value of this characteristic is alpha_137(29*137) = 0.007297352532... . The complementary characteristic alpha_29(29*137)=0.034280626357... for the cyclic subgroup of order 29 is shown to represent the gauge theory electro-weak coupling quantity g^2/(4 pi). Kinematic aspects of the representation geometry are discussed and a generalized version of the Weinberg electro-weak mixing angle is introduced.
Yes, it is semantics. What I apparently failed to convey to the downvoters is that the way the universe works *is* the laws of physics, and if the way the the universe works changes then the way it changes is also part of the laws of physics. In other words, the meaning of the phrase "laws of physics" is defined by the universe itself, at all its different moments, simultaneously.
Richard Feynman used a chess analogy well: "Imagine you have to deduce the laws of the game from watching a game of chess... eventually you think you have a good grasp of it- how the pieces move... and then a player 'castles'- you haven't seen this behaviour before!"
"different regions of the university have subtly different laws of physics"
Hmm. That sounds right, based on my recollections of university. There were the Phys Ed laws, the Medicine laws, the Engineering laws, the Humanities laws, and of course the Sciences laws. Trying to mix them was asking for trouble.
Every article I read on astronomy seems to remind me of this old joke....
A mathematician, a physicist and an astronomer are on the train from London to Glasgow, as they cross into Scotland the astronomer sees a black sheep in a field.
Ah ah says the astronomer, a black sheep, from that I can deduce that all sheep in Scotland are black.
No, says the physicist, all you can deduce is that in Scotland some sheep are black.
Actually says the mathematician all you say is that in Scotland there is a field in which there is a sheep, one side of which is black.
Oh look is that my coat.
Astronomers are physicists.
And we're more awesome than the other types of physicist, the only reason you can be in a room with an Astronomer and not instantly worship them is that our awesomeness is _very far away_.
Think about it; "Oh I discovered a new kind of sub atomic particle that exists for a zillionth of a second." "Really? I watched the birth of a galactic civilisation and the death of another in a fiery nova. Also there were lasers."
Well, it might prove anything in the end, but unless they've got some fair reason for saying it, it's just the PR dept being PR dorks again.
Scientists: "constant alpha structure far ultraviolet quarklets uptake gibber gibber gibber"
PR dork: "no, no, make it interesting, for example could this imply life on white dwarfs?"
Sc: "well it doesn't rule out some kind of self-supporting entropic phenomenon with information processing organs beyone the minimum concomitant with their environment but that's completely outside of -"
PR: "SCIENTIST SAYS INTELLIGENT LIFE POSSIBLE ON DISTANT SUN!"
PR and marketeers, everything and anything ex nihilo. It's their job I suppose.
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