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Thread: implications of the Laws of nature slowly changing over time

  1. #1 implications of the Laws of nature slowly changing over time 
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    This is a repost of something I posted somewhere else. Didn't really get any answers the last time.

    Recently I read that the fundamental force "alpha" and a bunch of other "fundamental constants" has slowly been changing over the eons. I am lead to understand that "alpha" is a measurement of the strength in which electrons bond within atoms and molecules (such as the bonds between hydrogen and oxygen in water).

    http://www.newscientist.com/article/...t-for-now.html

    Also, I am to understand, that Alpha is a 'dimension-less' constant which makes it more 'fundamental' than constants such as the strength of gravity, or the speed of light.

    I don't really have good grasp on the topic, but could this study be implying that millions and millions of years ago, the set of conditions that sprung forth life could have been radically different? I know it takes complex organic proteins for intelligent life (as we know it) to occur and that happens because carbon can 'hybridize' (I think) and that the current set of conditions allow carbon to form proteins which in turn lead to intelligent life. One could say that given that we exist and are intelligent, the exact same conditions could also produce intelligence.

    But if these "fundamental forces" (other constants have been proven to have changed over time i.e Mu) has been changing, isn't there a possibility that in all the 14 billion years of the universe there could have existed a set of conditions that could have created intelligent arsenic beings or something else vastly different and intelligent? (This probably doesn't make any sense but with the jumbled mixture of completely different "laws of nature" could there have been like intelligent radio waves, or like gigantic planet sized intelligent entities.) Could this mean there existed or will exist currently impossible, intelligent forms of life or other unique phenomena or am I missing some part of the picture due to my complete lack of knowledge in astrophysics and string theory?

    Also I'm curious as to the implications this has on the current rigidity of these "fundamental laws of nature", is it possible for there to be 'pockets' of space where the laws of nature operate differently? I think these studies have proved that these "laws" are not really laws but rather descriptions of the way the universe is currently. Using conventional logic I think its safe to say if the laws of nature can change over time, its reasonable to assume they can change geographically as well. (although there may be some kind of horrible equation proving me wrong). I'm imagining some kind of spooky gaseous deity living in some bubble in some far off nebula and tripping out.

    I apologize if this makes little sense, I'm quite high and I think its an interesting topic and I wish to understand more of the ontological implications of this study.


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  3. #2  
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    Fundamental constants are constant. They don't change. The clue is in the name.


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  4. #3  
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    Quote Originally Posted by bradford28
    Fundamental constants are constant. They don't change. The clue is in the name.
    ..

    there has been so much evidence to the contrary that for you to say so firmly that they don't change with nothing insightful except for "the clue is in the name" is pretty ridiculous to me. Even if you actually believed they didn't it would have been alot more helpful if you provided any kind of information rather than some silly semantic nonsense.

    I know there has been alot of back and forth in the debate, with studies being disproved and reproved, but I think there is enough evidence to say that these laws are not as concrete as previously believed. Here is some on the subject.

    http://www.newscientist.com/article/...t-for-now.html
    http://www.newscientist.com/article/...-changing.html
    http://www.newscientist.com/article/...-constant.html
    http://www.newscientist.com/article/...thing-but.html
    http://www.newscientist.com/article/...-universe.html
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/1991223.stm


    Anyways, I found an answer kind of to the original question. http://www.newscientist.com/article/...-for-life.html. Although a more thorough explanation from anyone willing would be muchly appreciated.
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    OK I realise my answer was unhelpful but your question made my head spin. I gave a flippant answer off the top of my head because I don't really know the issues involved. It seems you are already better informed on this matter than anyone here.
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    Quote Originally Posted by bradford28
    I gave a flippant answer off the top of my head because I don't really know the issues involved.
    This is just a wild assed stab in the dark, but if you don't really know the issues involved in something isn't it best to remain silent?
    However, kudos for acknowledging your ignorance. :wink:

    Basketball,
    my impression is that the possibility of variation of some of the fundamental constants is presently very much a minority view. Any evidence for such variation has either been refuted or is left in the limbo of lack of precision in measurement. It remains an intriguing field, but one seemingly filled with more speculation than fact.
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    Quote Originally Posted by bradford28
    OK I realise my answer was unhelpful but your question made my head spin. I gave a flippant answer off the top of my head because I don't really know the issues involved. It seems you are already better informed on this matter than anyone here.
    Dont back down so easily, you were right! Fundamental constants definitely do not change over time. If they did then they wouldnt be constants would they? However I do understand where the OP is coming from, he is asking whether some measured values which we currently believe are constant, change. Only time will tell really, in this area, measurement accuracies become extremely important. If the universe is expanding (which is not yet known for certain, despite popular belief) then this may make certain values change over time.
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    Good - so I made a valid point. I am not actually a physicist and I have not heard of fundamental constants changing. Am I right in thinking that if fundamental constants did change it would not be possible for matter to exist?
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    Quote Originally Posted by bradford28
    Am I right in thinking that if fundamental constants did change it would not be possible for matter to exist?
    No. You are wrong. It would depend upon which constants changed and by how much.

    Waveman, you are playing with semantics. Don't do that. The point raised by the OP is that some of those entities currently believed to be constants may not in fact be constants. As I have pointed out, while this is a minority view there are some suggestive observations to support the contention. Bradford's absolute rejection of this from a position of ignorance was inappropriate.
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