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Scientists Probe --"Are the Laws of Physics the Same Everywhere in the Observable Universe"

 

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A study that will 'test our understanding of how the Universe works, particularly outside the relatively narrow confines of our planet' is being undertaken by an international team of researchers led by the University of Leicester. The research probes whether the fundamental laws of physics are the same everywhere in the universe. In their new study the team assesses whether these laws are the same within the hot, dense conditions in the atmosphere of a dying white dwarf star as here on Earth.

These stars have masses around half that of the Sun compressed into a radius similar to that of the Earth, leading to extreme gravity within the atmosphere of the star.

The study involved Matthew Bainbridge, Martin Barstow and Nicole Reindl from the University of Leicester along with colleagues from the U.S., France, The Netherlands, Australia and collaborators in the U.K.

The researchers use the light of white dwarf stars observed with the Hubble Space Telescope. Dr Nicole Reindl, leading the observations, says: "These particular stars contain metals, such as Iron and Nickel, floating within the surface layers of their atmospheres. The light generated within the depths of the star passes through the heavy metals, leaving behind a "fingerprint" in the stars' light that we can study."

Tiny differences in the wavelengths of the light that passes through these heavy metals, compared to experiments here on Earth, gives us clues about potential differences in the fundamental laws of physics under extreme gravity compared to here on Earth.

"Studying these fingerprints in detail requires very precise measurements of the wavelength, or color, of the light emerging from the atmospheres of these stars" says Dr Matthew Bainbridge, who has been working on the detailed analysis techniques needed to detect the tiny changes expected. "The project is ongoing, but we have established a sophisticated new method and have demonstrated how successful it is on nine stars."

This is a unique study that brings together our expertise and that of world leaders in a variety of fields including observational astronomy, cosmology, experimental atomic physics and high energy theoretical physics. Cosmology studies the origin and evolution of the universe and, since the birth of science, has inspired fundamental shifts in our understanding of our place in the Universe.

Project leader Professor Martin Barstow adds: "This new work will test our understanding of how the Universe works, particularly outside the relatively narrow confines of our planet. We anticipate that our results will challenge current theoretical ideas in cosmology."

The Daily Galaxy via University of Leicester

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Comments

Our 'Laws' of physics are mostly first order terms in series of smaller and smaller nth order terms that are negligible in 'normal' conditions' (usually referred to as Standard Temperature and Pressure, and I would include 'normal' gravity ranges). As the result, it might be said that our textbook laws of physics are approximations that are reliable a high percentage of the time, i.e., to an ''nth sigma' accuracy (usually 6th sigma or better)...under normal conditions. These are a lot of 'ifs and buts'. Under significant differences from our reference conditions of T, P, gravity, etc, scientists should expect 'different' Laws of physics as higher series expansion terms become significant. Just as intriguing is what new physics variables might show up leading to new relationships, e.g., new 'chemistries'.

"Are the Laws of Physics the Same Everywhere in the Observable Universe"

Since there's a lot of the universe that we can't examine closely - since we're HERE and we've never been "out there", there's a WHOLE LOT that we don't know - CAN'T know. Our "natural laws" are mostly observations of what we've seen, and we've corrected those with minor modifications for "extreme" conditions. Newtonian physics work very well, for the world we see around us - UNTIL we start looking closely at the extremes of size and mass. Einsteinian physics work better for the very small, the very large, and the very massive.

I can guarantee that we'll need some revisions to our "laws of physics" when we get out beyond the heliopause and out where the universe is "flat" in interstellar space. And we'll discover more out in intergalactic space REALLY far out.

This is one of the best articles I have come across. Keep up the good work.

Uhh, The article did not have much to do with the title, but as far as the title then the answer would be yes(to an extent) unless you want to start to factor in gods and/or magic. The extent or the only factor that may affect the laws of physics is that of an extremely powerful gravitational field/wave, and that is only because we do not have quite enough information on this effect yet.

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