Researchers have found evidence that suggests that a fundamental physical constant called the Fine Structure constant or Sommerfeld’s constant can, in fact, be rather inconstant, according to measurements taken from a quasar some 13 billion light-years away.
What is Sommerfeld’s constant?
It is a fundamental physical constant which characterizes the strength of the electromagnetic interaction between elementary charged particles and is used to calculate the strength of electromagnetic interaction between charged particles.
The new readings taken together with other readings from separate studies are pointing towards tiny variations in this constant, which could have very big implications for how we understand things around us.
The latest data also shows the Universe may have hidden ‘north’ and ‘south’ bearings, a definitive direction on which these variations in electromagnetism can be mapped.
“The new study seems to be supporting this idea that there could be a directionality in the Universe, which is very weird indeed,” said John Webb, an Astrophysicist at the University of New South Wales. “So the Universe may not be isotropic in its laws of physics – one that is the same, statistically, in all directions.“
“But in fact, there could be some direction or preferred direction in the Universe where the laws of physics change, but not in the perpendicular direction. In other words, the Universe in some sense has a dipole structure to it.“
“Putting all the data together, electromagnetism seems to gradually increase the further we look, while towards the opposite direction, it gradually decreases,” says Webb.
This new result backs the idea of directionality in the universe. This now seems to be interesting and researchers are looking for more data to study this in more detail. Researchers say that it is too early to say anything about this.
“If such fundamental principles turn out to be only good approximations, the doors are open to some very exciting, new ideas in physics.”
Four direct measurements of the fine-structure constant 13 billion years ago: Science Advances