Victor Flambaum

Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton

Do Fundamental Constants of Nature Vary With Time and Distance?

Theories unifying gravity with other interactions suggest spatial and temporal variation of fundamental "constants" in the Universe. A change in the fine structure constant alpha=e2/hc could be detected via shifts in frequencies of atomic transitions in quasar (QSO) absorption systems.

We have developed a new approach which improves sensitivity of this method 30 times. It also provides much better control of systematic errors. We studied three independent samples of data contaning 143 absorption systems spread from 2 to 10 billion years after Big Bang.

All three data samples hint that alpha was smaller 7-11 billion years ago.

We also derive limits on variation of strong interaction, quark masses and gravity from (i) Big Bang Nucleosynthesis; (ii) Oklo natural nuclear reactor (iii) atomic clocks (iv) quasar spectra. BBN and Oklo data may also indicate non-zero variation of the fundamental constants.

Phys. Rev. Lett. 82,888,1999;82,884,1999;87,091301,2001;
detailes in MNRAS, Phys.Rev.A and D, arXive 1998-2003.

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