18:29 08 September 2010 by Michael Brooks
Do the laws of physics change from one region of space to another? (Image: NASA/ESA/R. Thompson/U of Arizona)
New evidence supports the idea that we live in an area of the universe that is “just right” for our existence. The controversial finding comes from an observation that one of the constants of nature appears to be different in different parts of the cosmos.
If correct, this result stands against Einstein’s equivalence principle, which states that the laws of physics are the same everywhere. “This finding was a real surprise to everyone,” says John Webb of the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia. Webb is lead author on the new paper, which has been submitted to Physical Review Letters.
Even more surprising is the fact that the change in the constant appears to have an orientation, creating a “preferred direction”, or axis, across the cosmos. That idea was dismissed more than 100 years ago with the creation of Einstein’s special theory of relativity.