the laws of Nature the same 10 billion years ago or 10 billion light
years away from us?
gravity with other interactions suggest the spatial and temporal
variation of the fundamental constants in the Universe.
A change in the fine structure constant alpha (combination of electron
charge, speed of light and quantum Planck constant)
could be detected via shifts in the rest wavelengths of resonance
transitions in quasar absorption systems. We have developed a new
approach which improves the sensitivity of this method by an order
of magnitude and measured alpha in 140 absorption systems covering
look-back times from 0.2 to 0.9 times the age of the Universe. Our
initial results published in 1999 hinted that alpha may have been
smaller in the past. Startlingly, new results based on 3 independent
data sets now support the same effect.
These data have
inspired a more general discussion of possible variation of other
constants. We have considered variation of strong interactions and
quark masses and derived the limits on their relative change from
(i) primordial Big-Bang Nucleosynthesis; (ii) Oklo natural nuclear
reactor which was active about 2 billion years ago; (iii) quasar
absorption spectra, and (iv) laboratory measurements of hyperfine
intervals in atoms which are used as frequency standards.
Vladimir Dzuba, Victor
Michael Murphy and John