Colloquia 2006

Variation of fundamental constants from Big Bang to atomic clocks

Professor V. Flambaum
University of NSW

Date
4pm, Thursday, 22 June

Location
School of Physics Common Room
Room 64 Old Main Building
The University of New South Wales

Abstract
Theories unifying gravity with other interactions suggest temporal and spatial variation of the fundamental "constants" in expanding Universe. The spatial variation can explain fine tuning of the fundamental constants which allows humans (and any life) to appear. We appeared in the area of the Universe where the values of the fundamental constants are consistent with our existence.

I present a review of recent works devoted to the variation of the fine structure constant alpha, strong interaction and fundamental masses. There are some hints for the variation in quasar absorption spectra, Big Bang nucleosynthesis, and Oklo natural nuclear reactor data.

A very promising method to search for the variation of the fundamental constants consists in comparison of different atomic clocks. Huge enhancement of the variation effects happens in transition between accidentally degenerate atomic and molecular energy levels. A new idea is to build a ``nuclear'' clock based on the ultraviolet transition between very low excited state and ground state in Thorium nucleus. This may allow to improve sensitivity to the variation up to 10 orders of magnitude!

Huge enhancement of the variation effects is also possible in cold atomic and molecular collisions near Feschbach resonance.

 

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