Speed of Light Not a Constant: New Break-Through Research
- URL to an interesting article in the Daily Galaxy
The speed of light not a constant? What are thyme implications for an
(Madness takes its toll. Please have exact change)
First few paragraphs
New research challenges established wisdom about the nature of vacuum,
showing that the _speed of light_ (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Speed_of_light)
may not be fixed after all, but rather fluctuates. At the the _University
(http://maps.google.com/maps?ll=48.69989,2.173309&spn=0.01,0.01&q=48.69989,2.173309 (University%20of%20Paris-Sud)&t=h) , Marcel Urban
from and colleagues identified a quantum-level mechanism for interpreting
vacuum as being filled with pairs of _virtual particles_
(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virtual_particle) with fluctuating energy values. As a result, the
inherent characteristics of vacuum, such as the speed of light, may not be
a constant after all, but fluctuate. In another study at the _Max Planck
Institute_ (http://www.mpg.de/) for the Physics of Light, Gerd Leuchs and
Luis L. Sánchez-Soto, suggest that physical constants, such as the speed of
light and the impedance of free space (377 ohms), are indications of the
total number of _elementary particles_
(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elementary_particle) in nature.
Vacuum is one of the most elusive concepts in physics. When observed at
the quantum level, vacuum is not empty. It is filled with continuously
appearing and disappearing particle pairs such as electron-positron or
quark-antiquark pairs. These ephemeral particles are real particles, but their
lifetimes are extremely brief.
Urban and colleagues established, for the first time, a detailed quantum
mechanism that would explain the magnetization and polarization of the
vacuum, referred to as vacuum permeability and permittivity, and the finite speed
of light. This finding is relevant because it suggests the existence of a
limited number of ephemeral particles per unit volume in a vacuum. As a
result, there is a theoretical possibility that the speed of light is not
fixed, as conventional physics has assumed. Instead, it could fluctuate at a
level independent of the energy of each _light quantum_
(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Photon) , or photon, and greater than fluctuations induced by
The speed of light would be dependent on variations in the vacuum
properties of space or time. The fluctuations of the photon propagation time are
estimated to be on the order of 50 attoseconds per square meter of crossed
vacuum, which might be testable with the help of new ultra-fast lasers.
Leuchs and Sanchez-Soto, on the other hand, modeled virtual charged
particle pairs as electric dipoles responsible for the polarization of the vacuum.
They found that a specific property of vacuum called the impedance, which
is crucial to determining the speed of light, depends only on the sum of
the square of the electric charges of particles but not on their masses.
If their idea is correct, the value of the speed of light combined with the
value of _vacuum impedance_
(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Impedance_of_free_space) gives an indication of the total number of charged elementary
particles existing in nature. Experimental results support this hypothesis.
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