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How a galaxy imprints a "barcode" of metallic absorption lines onto the spectrum of a background quasar â€“ the barcode encodes the laws of physics in the distant, absorbing galaxy, so we can tell whether the laws of physics change throughout the universe, or really stay constant like is currently assumed (Image: Michael Murphy, Swinburne University of Technology; Hubble Ultra Deep Field: NASA, ESA, S. Beckwith (STScI) and the HUDF Team)
Illustration of the dipolar variation in the fine-structure constant, alpha, across the sky, as seen by the two telescopes used in the work (Image: Dr. Julian Berengut, UNSW)
Star Trek’s Scotty was adamant that you “canna change the laws of physics,” but, according to a report from a team of astrophysicists based in Australia and England, that could be exactly what happens in different parts of the universe. The report describes how one of the supposed fundamental constants of Nature appears not to be constant after all. Instead, this 'magic number' known as the fine-structure constant – 'alpha' for short – appears to vary throughout the universe.
Read the full article: Laws of physics may just be 'local by-laws'
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