Go North From Jupiter

A fascinating article explores some new findings in the world of physics.
“And it seems to be supporting this idea that there could be a directionality in the universe, which is very weird indeed,” Professor Webb says.

“So the universe may not be isotropic in its laws of physics – one that is the same, statistically, in all directions. But in fact, there could be some direction or preferred direction in the universe where the laws of physics change, but not in the perpendicular direction. In other words, the universe in some sense, has a dipole structure to it.

“In one particular direction, we can look back 12 billion light years and measure electromagnetism when the universe was very young. Putting all the data together, electromagnetism seems to gradually increase the further we look, while towards the opposite direction, it gradually decreases. In other directions in the cosmos, the fine structure constant remains just that – constant. These new very distant measurements have pushed our observations further than has ever been reached before.”

In other words, in what was thought to be an arbitrarily random spread of galaxies, quasars, black holes, stars, gas clouds and planets – with life flourishing in at least one tiny niche of it – the universe suddenly appears to have the equivalent of a north and a south.
He goes on to say that these findings are so new and so weird that he's skeptical of them for now, even though it's his own work. That sounds like a real scientist to me.


E Hines said...

Two complementary reasons for this. One is that, looking forward and backward, we're looking at differing stages of the universe's evolution. In other directions, we're looking at substantially the same ages--so of course things look alike.

The other is the clumpiness of the universe. So, too, are the behaviors of physics. We just happen to be in a place in the universe where the so-called laws behave in one way. In other places, other clumps--perhaps beyond the current light front--physics may well behave differently.

Easy peasy.

Eric Hines

james said...

He's been looking into this for years.
The date on this one is 2011; it. has a good explanation of what he was looking at.

The paper itself is here.

Quick thoughts: For Fig. 1 they display the results of a model with a thermal fit--but that's not always a good model--galaxies aren't always in nice equilibrium. --- Later on in the paper they mention use of a turbulent fit as well. The \Delta \alpha / \alpha vs Redshift plot suggests that individual measurements are quite difficult.

Unfortunately I can't evaluate their tools--that needs somebody better versed in the field than I.

Ymar Sakar said...

Has humanity managed to navigate anywhere using magnetic south yet? Because that is important.