Does Our Solar System Exist in a Region of the Universe that's Just Right for Li
- URL to in interesting article from the dailu Ga;laxy
"Many of our greatest scientists have been asking why does the universe
appear to fe "fine-tuned" for life? The logic behind this question, sometimes
known as the anthropic principle, says that's why we are here today, able
to study the universe and learn about its laws. But if any of these
constants were slightly different, we could never have come in to exist in the
Analysis of the light from distant quasars in 2011 from data from the
_Very Large Telescope_
(Very%20Large%20Telescope)&t=h) (VLT) in Chile showed that one of the constants of nature appears
to be different in different parts of the cosmos, supporting the theory that
our solar system is an area of the Universe that is "just right" for life,
which negates _Einstein's equivalence principle_
(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Equivalence_principle) , which states that the laws of physics are the
"This finding was a real surprise to everyone," said John Webb of the
_University of New South Wales_
(University%20of%20New%20South%20Wales)&t=h) in Sydney, Australia.
The change in the constant appears to have an orientation, creating a
"preferred direction", or axis, across the cosmos, an idea that was dismissed
more than 100 years ago with the creation of _Einstein's special theory of
relativity_ (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Special_relativity) .
The report describes how the "magic number" known as the fine-structure
constant –- dubbed alpha for short –- appears to vary throughout the
Universe, says the team from the University of New South Wales, _Swinburne
University of Technology_
(Swinburne%20University%20of%20Technology)&t=h) and the University of Cambridge. The work is
currently under peer review.
“After measuring alpha in around 300 distant galaxies, a consistency
emerged: this magic number, which tells us the strength of electromagnetism, is
not the same everywhere as it is here on Earth, and seems to vary
continuously along a preferred axis through the Universe,” said Webb.
“The implications for our current understanding of science are profound.
If the laws of physics turn out to be merely “local by-laws”, it might be
that whilst our observable part of the Universe favors the existence of life
and human beings, other far more distant regions may exist where different
laws preclude the formation of life, at least as we know it.
“If our results are correct, clearly we shall need new physical theories
to satisfactorily describe them.”
The researchers' conclusions are based on new measurements taken with the
Very Large Telescope (VLT) in Chile, along with their previous measurements
from the world’s largest optical telescopes at the Keck Observatory, in
The core finding of the new study is the fine structure constant (alpha).
This number determines the strength of interactions between light and
matter. A decade ago, Webb used observations from the Keck telescope in Hawaii
to analyze the light from distant galaxies called quasars. The data suggested
that the value of alpha was very slightly smaller when the quasar light
was emitted 12 billion years ago than it appears in laboratories on Earth
Webb's colleague Julian King, also of the University of New South Wales,
has analyzed data from the Very Large Telescope (VLT) in Chile, which looks
at a different region of the sky. The VLT data suggests that the value of
alpha elsewhere in the Universe is very slightly bigger than on Earth.
The difference in both cases is around a millionth of the value alpha has
in our region of space, and suggests that alpha varies in space rather than
time. "I'd quietly hoped we'd simply find the same thing that Keck found,"
King says. "This was a real shock."
King says that after combining the two sets of measurements, the new
result "struck" them: "The _Keck telescopes_
(W.%20M.%20Keck%20Observatory)&t=h) and the VLT are in different hemispheres; they look in
different directions through the Universe. Looking to the north with Keck we see,
on average, a smaller alpha in distant galaxies, but when looking south
with the VLT we see a larger alpha".
Chris Rohrs CBCP
(Madness takes its toll. Please have exact change)
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