The fine structure constant is not constant, and the universe is not isotropic

The fine structure constant is not constant, and the universe is not isotropic

The matter is made up of tiny bricks — atoms. In the center of the atom is a positively charged nucleus, around which negatively charged particles — electrons-fly. Electrons interact with other electrons not directly, but through "carrier pigeons". Physical laws do not allow charged particles to come close to each other, hug in greeting, and start a dialogue. Therefore, they exchange "letters" carried by other particles-photons, which are called carriers of electromagnetic interaction. For particles of the same sign, "letters" to each other contain a brief but succinct message: "Don't come any closer! Push away!»

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The electromagnetic interaction is one of the four fundamental interactions in nature: strong, electromagnetic, weak, and gravitational. The first, strong, occurs between particles in the nuclei of atoms and is not associated with an electric charge. It firmly binds the neutrons and protons in the nucleus. You can destroy nuclear forces if you spend a lot of energy. For example, to heat a substance to the temperature of the Sun-millions of degrees. The electromagnetic force is only 100 times weaker than the strong force. It is responsible for the fact that we do not fall through the floor into the apartment of a neighbor from below since the equally charged electrons in the atoms at the borders of substances violently repel each other.

The measure of the electromagnetic interaction is the thin structure constant. The fundamental constant is defined in terms of other known constants: the speed of light at which photons fly, the charge of an electron, and the Planck constant. The choice of constants is not random. The fine structure constant characterizes the interaction of atomic electrons with each other. The electrons in the atom constantly exchange "carrier pigeons" - photons, and those "flapping their wings" make a certain confusion, in the form of additional narrow bands, in the energy spectra of the atom. The bands — the so-called thin structures-gave the constant its name. For a long time, scientists considered it unchanged in space and time and equal to 1/137.

However, observations of distant quasars have made physicists scratch their heads more than once. Measurements of the luminosity of these space objects have shown before that the thin structure constant is not so constant. Quasars are the brightest objects in the Universe, and their light can reach us from the farthest corners of space. It would take billions of years for light to travel such distances at its final speed of 300,000 kilometers per second. Therefore, the light of distant objects is a kind of photograph of the past of the universe, when It was young and inexperienced in its "modest" billion years after the beginning of everything — the Big Bang. There were no planets then, and the stars were different.

Four recent measurements of radiation from a quasar located 13 billion light-years from Earth have again shown differences in the value of the fine structure constant. The accuracy of the measurements eliminates the instrument error. The results of researchers from UNSW Sydney, published in the journal Science Advances, suggest that in the past, the electromagnetic interaction was weaker than it is now. If it remained the same, the origin of life on our planet would be in great doubt.

Scientists ' assumptions about the dipole model of the Universe have been confirmed experimentally. This model implies the existence of two "poles" of the Universe: "North" and "South". This means that there is a direction of development of fundamental forces in the space-time continuum. So the laws of physics are not the same in all directions, and the universe is not, Oh, my God, isotropic! Fundamental scientific concepts may now be shaken.

"The standard model of cosmology is based on the principle of an isotropic Universe that is statistically the same in all directions," says Professor John Webb. " If such fundamental principles turn out to be only good approximations, the door opens for some very exciting new ideas in physics."

Scientists intend to test their results again in other parts of the Universe. At the disposal of science-the largest telescopes equipped with modern accurate detectors and instruments, as well as the latest algorithms for data analysis using artificial intelligence to automate and accelerate processes.