Slow changes in Fundamental Constants

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Slow changes in Fundamental Constants

Postby hyksos on March 20th, 2018, 5:21 am 

In the universe we inhabit, we can see many examples of derivative phenomenon and large-scale systems. Examples include things like mountains, rivers, stars, and planets. These objects have many internal moving parts and their outward behavior can change over time as their constituent parts reconfigure and re-correlate. Think of a computer, or a car engine.

There are other aspects of our universe that are built into its laws. Some examples include the ratio of the Gravitational Force to the Electromagnetic Force. Or the number of dimensions of space. Other examples would be the charge of one electron, or the speed of light.

Several of these constants are dimensionless, so our choice of ruler has no meaning. These constants are unaffected by "change of perspective" regarding shrinking or expanding or any supposed inverse correlation between those perspectives.

We might consider the idea that one of these "foundational physical constants" might be changing over time. The idea on its face appears clear enough. But upon deeper pondering, it becomes far more problematic. The problem comes in when you ask :

What does it even mean for a fundamental constant of nature to be slowly changing over time?

Further -- does it even make sense to suggest that these constants could be changing at all? A presence of a change in system can be indicative that it most be a derivative phenomenon of some kind, a change in a larger system is indicative of a re-arranging of its constituent parts.

For example, what is the ontological status of the gravitational constant ?

G = 6.674×10−11 m3⋅kg−1⋅s−2

Does this number mean something in terms of some kind of underlying geometrical property of the universe? If G were changing slowly over time, say it was decreasing, what in the world would that even mean?

Anyone suggesting that this is actually happening would, by logic, be suggesting that G is a derivative number of some deeper phenomenon -- yet unknown to science -- that is slowly changing over time.

If this G were changing slowly, there must be a rate at which it changes. What determines that rate? Another yet further deeper fundamental property? And when does this chain of reasoning terminate? Is the universe an infinite layers of onions? Is it "Turtles all the way down"?

If this example is perplexing, consider the more provincial aspect of the number of spatial dimensions in our universe. It's three. Does this number, 3, derive from a more fundamental, as yet-unseen aspect of space lying underneath the derivative phenomenon of 3 spatial dimensions we experience?

These types of ghostly explanations become further and further disconnected from rationality. Reason dictates that the fundamental conservation laws in nature will always be conserved. Indeed, in gauge theory, "Energy" denoted capital E, is considered to be constant only because it is an indication that the laws of physics do not change from moment to moment. This is called a continuous symmetry. By Noether's theorem, there will exist a quantity that does not change. For time symmetry, this quantity is written E, and called 'energy'.

Eventually this type of Turtles-on-turtles thinking is going to have to break. This kind of homunculi-embedded-in-homunculi type of reasoning must be abandoned.

In a final assessment, a person who claims that a fundamental constant of nature is changing over time is not being rational. They are extrapolating on ghostly entities and supposed ignorances that has neither been established nor agreed-upon by the conversants. This is true whether the claimant is a poster on this forum, a Ph.d , or has multiple publications on arxiv.

Go to a quiet room for 20 minutes and think it over. It makes no sense to claim that a fundamental constant of nature is changing slowly over time. For such a claim dethrones the constant from being "fundamental" and displaces the fundamentality onto a rate of change. And then this rate has no explanation, no theory, and no grounding in experiment or reason.

You might as well be claiming : "Well there exists a Magical Fairy that slowly changes the dimensions of space from 3 to 4." This then takes a fundamental aspect of the universe, and "explains" it with a More Fundamental Fairy who happens to be invisible and has no name in academia. You momentarily gain a feeling of being clever --- As if your cleverness has circumnavigated and found a loophole around all trained physicists in the discipline. You decry "It's fairies all the way down!" as you jump out the window of the physics building on campus. You are not doing science. You are being a lunatic.
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Re: Slow changes in Fundamental Constants

Postby Watson on March 20th, 2018, 10:37 am 

does it even make sense to suggest that these constants could be changing at all? A presence of a change in system can be indicative that it most be a derivative phenomenon of some kind, a change in a larger system is indicative of a re-arranging of its constituent parts.

For example, what is the ontological status of the gravitational constant ?

G = 6.674×10−11 m3⋅kg−1⋅s−2

Does this number mean something in terms of some kind of underlying geometrical property of the universe? If G were changing slowly over time, say it was decreasing, what in the world would that even mean?

Anyone suggesting that this is actually happening would, by logic, be suggesting that G is a derivative number of some deeper phenomenon -- yet unknown to science -- that is slowly changing over time.

If this G were changing slowly, there must be a rate at which it changes. What determines that rate? Another yet further deeper fundamental property? And when does this chain of reasoning terminate? Is the universe an infinite layers of onions? Is it "Turtles all the way down"?





Newton's gravitational constant, G, has been measured about a dozen times over the last 40 years, but the results have varied by much more than would be expected due to random and systematic errors. Now scientists have found that the measured G values oscillate over time like a sine wave with a period of 5.9 years. It's not G itself that is varying by this much, they propose, but more likely something else is affecting the measurements.

https://phys.org/news/2015-04-gravitati ... -vary.html

Yes, an oscillation is not a constant change in one direction or other, but the G constant is not so constant.
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Re: Slow changes in Fundamental Constants

Postby Braininvat on March 20th, 2018, 12:10 pm 

Don't have the link ATM, but wasn't there some team in Australia a few years ago that thought they had detected a shift in the fine structure constant, based on some cosmological data? Aside from Lee Smolin having an irregular heartbeat, I don't think it made much of a splash. Data probably turned out to be corrupt.
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Re: Slow changes in Fundamental Constants

Postby Watson on March 20th, 2018, 2:47 pm 

http://phys.unsw.edu.au/~jkw/hons/barr_webb_sciam11.pdf

It gets to the meat of it page 75 - Changing Minds
No they appear to be waiting on new data

So where does this flurry of activity leave science as far as α
is concerned? We await new data and new analyses to con-
firm or disprove that α varies at the level claimed. Researchers focus on α
, over the other constants of nature, simply because its effects are more readily seen. If
α is susceptible to change, however, other constants should vary as well, making
the inner workings of nature more fickle than scientists ever suspected.


The point being 'constant' means 'more or less constant'
It is an implied 'more or less'
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Re: Slow changes in Fundamental Constants

Postby bangstrom on March 20th, 2018, 4:24 pm 

hyksos » March 20th, 2018, 4:21 am wrote: Reason dictates that the fundamental conservation laws in nature will always be conserved.

This is a hand-me-down logic from old time religious views where God made the World and its laws and, since God is perfect and unchanging, the laws must be perfect and unchanging. Observations tell us that there is a great deal of stability and order to the world so there are a many principles we can rely on to remain the same for our practical purposes but it is dogma, not logic, that tells us the laws of Nature are immutable and always have been and always will be. Even the concept of laws is a human invention. Nature does what Nature will do and is not bound by our self compiled lists of laws.
hyksos » March 20th, 2018, 4:21 am wrote:
You might as well be claiming : "Well there exists a Magical Fairy that slowly changes the dimensions of space from 3 to 4."

We have humans to count our dimensions so there is no need for fairies. Riemann, Minkowsky, Epstein, Einstein and others had a hand in changing the dimensions of space from three to four. Kaluza and Klein raised the number to five. We are now up to eleven dimensions and some are bidding for twenty three.
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Re: Slow changes in Fundamental Constants

Postby hyksos on March 21st, 2018, 8:19 am 

bangstrom --

If a fundamental constant is changing over time, that means it is not fundamental. It means there is something more fundamental "lying underneath" it that is causing it to change at a fixed rate. What was previously fundamental is now a derivative phenomenon in nature.. derived from a more fundamental thing/phenomenon/aspect.

If you have a solid, rational theoreticial or mathematical justification for such an unknown "underyling" entity, I will sit quietly with my hands folded in my lap and listen and digest your case. I am perfectly willing to do such, if you have it.

If you have experimental justifications for the existence of an underyling "deeper" aspect to the universe, deeper than an assumed constants, then I will sit quietly with my hands folded and listen and digest you. I will listen. Be attentive and digest and reciprocate like a good boy scout.

E.g. :
Braininvat » March 20th, 2018, 8:10 pm wrote:Don't have the link ATM, but wasn't there some team in Australia a few years ago that thought they had detected a shift in the fine structure constant, based on some cosmological data?


However :

If the argument boils down to "You must believe in my more fundamental process -- cuz you can't done did prove it ain't!" That type of argument will not be tolerated. I will not tolerate it from you. I will not tolerate it from Dr. Wetterich, nor any of his grad students.

This type of argument is called the Fallacy of Unfalsifiability. It is creating a theory upon which is attached convenient stipulations that you could never possibly test it. It is, in all logical ways, analogous to saying "You can't prove that the abandoned train station is NOT haunted, because the ghosts hide whenever you bring cameras into it."

Other variations include : "Since you cannot prove the non-existence of demons, I will just assume that both of us will pretend like demons do actually exist."

We have humans to count our dimensions so there is no need for fairies. Riemann, Minkowsky, Epstein, Einstein and others had a hand in changing the dimensions of space from three to four. Kaluza and Klein raised the number to five. We are now up to eleven dimensions and some are bidding for twenty three.

Every single name you have dropped in this laundry list had in their possession :
  • Solid mathematical, justified reasons for claiming existing another more fundamental entity/aspect.
  • (rarely) Solid experimental justifications for claiming a more fundamental aspect.
  • Often landmark experiments that solidly and rationally justified their claim of a more fundamental entity.
Not a single one of any of these people have ever adopted a position that goes "You must accept my new theory 'cuz you cannot prove it wrong." Never once in their professional lives, did Riemann, Minkowsky, Epstein, Einstein, Kaluza nor Klein... ever ... EVER make that argument as support of their theories. Not once. Ever.

It never happened.

You are nancing around this forum pretending that everyone you encounter should "just play along" as you suppose that Big G decreases slowly over time.. and ohe woopsie-daisy it decreases at just such a rate that no experiment performed on earth could ever verify it happening!

You need stop this. Your other option is to demonstrate to us what good rational reason we have for running down this imaginary rabbit hole with you as you speculate wildly. As any forum user can confirm, the only justification you have ever produced for us entertaining your wild speculations is that , (and I quote) :


bangstrom » March 16th, 2018, 2:28 pm wrote:I find it easier to visualize an enormous universe of constant radius tightly crammed with hydrogen atoms the size of golf balls than try to imagine the whole universe inside a golf ball

Quickly my squire -- Ready my humble steed! Today we will overturn the entire body of existing Cosmology. We will not fail in our endeavor , for a random guy on an internet forum can more easily visualize hydrogen the size of golf balls!
Last edited by hyksos on March 21st, 2018, 8:28 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Slow changes in Fundamental Constants

Postby hyksos on March 21st, 2018, 8:25 am 

,....
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Re: Slow changes in Fundamental Constants

Postby Braininvat on March 21st, 2018, 10:18 am 

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Re: Slow changes in Fundamental Constants

Postby hyksos on March 21st, 2018, 12:50 pm 

----
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Re: Slow changes in Fundamental Constants

Postby bangstrom on March 21st, 2018, 11:30 pm 

hyksos » March 21st, 2018, 7:19 am wrote:
If a fundamental constant is changing over time, that means it is not fundamental. It means there is something more fundamental "lying underneath" it that is causing it to change at a fixed rate. What was previously fundamental is now a derivative phenomenon in nature.. derived from a more fundamental thing/phenomenon/aspect.


Are you saying it is impossible for the fundamental constants to change over time? And, if so – Why?

The entity of change in the Big Bang model is the expansion of space. If c is considered an absolute in this model, then the expansion of space must be accompanied by an acceleration of time if c is to remain frame invariant. The constants can only remain frame invariant if most, possibly all, the fundamental constants are simultaneously changing from frame to frame as described in GR when an object emerges from a gravity well.

You appear dismissive of frame invariance when applied to Wetterich’s theory calling it convenient magic. Are you saying there is no frame invariance in the Big Bang model as well? Frame invariance requires a continuous and simultaneous rescaling of all the constants if they are to remain constant in all reference frames and this is what I mean by the constants “changing.”
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Re: Slow changes in Fundamental Constants

Postby bangstrom on March 22nd, 2018, 12:16 am 

Braininvat » March 20th, 2018, 11:10 am wrote:Don't have the link ATM, but wasn't there some team in Australia a few years ago that thought they had detected a shift in the fine structure constant, based on some cosmological data? Aside from Lee Smolin having an irregular heartbeat, I don't think it made much of a splash. Data probably turned out to be corrupt.


https://www.space.com/9122-physics-fund ... hifty.html

"This is a puzzle which has existed for many years," he told SPACE.com. "A minor variation of the fundamental constants forbids life to appear ? we just could not exist."
For Flambaum and others, it seemed like too much of a coincidence that the universe's constants ? which includes the alpha constant and others like the value of the strength of gravity, or the strength of the strong interaction that binds atomic nuclei together ? should be perfect for building stars and planets and life.
"Now we have an explanation," Flambaum said."If fundamental constants vary in space, we just appear in the area of the universe where constants are good for us."
In other regions of the universe where the constants are different, life may be absent, he said.”


Rupert Sheldrake has suggested another possibility. He thinks the constants may be slowly shifting and settling into conditions of greater chemical stability. Sheldrake is saying the constants are finely tuned, not for human life, but for the point of greatest stability.
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Re: Slow changes in Fundamental Constants

Postby BadgerJelly on March 22nd, 2018, 2:08 am 

bangstrom -

The problem with Sheldrake is that most of what he says is purely conjecture. Some of his ideas may hold weight, but it will likely be some time before any can be tested and put into some form of vaguely workable hypothesis.

He is certainly willing to stretch the common ground of knowledge, which I find dubious ... but hey, there are plenty of strange ideas out there so having someone well qualified willing to make themselves look foolish in pursuit of the "truth", I also find admirable.

At worst you make people at least bring into question commonly accepted ideas.
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Re: Slow changes in Fundamental Constants

Postby Watson on March 22nd, 2018, 12:09 pm 

That article is from 2010, as are the others on the topic I have been seeing. Is there any thing more recent to update current knowledge on the subject?
If confirmed, this revelation could reshape physicists' understanding of cosmology from the ground up.

Was it confirmed?
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Re: Slow changes in Fundamental Constants

Postby Watson on March 22nd, 2018, 2:36 pm 

https://arxiv.org/pdf/1412.2040.pdf
For example, statements such as “you cannot fix c in theories where c
changes with time” miss the point that c changing in time is a matter of what units we
choose, not what theory.


This article is more recent, 2014

5
Conclusions
The number, current values, and possible time variation of the dimensionless con-
stants appearing in the laws of physics is a legitimate subject of physical enquiry.
They are worthy of the title “fundamental”. By contrast, the number, current
values and possible time variation of the dimensional constants, such as h, c, G,. . .
are quite arbitrary human constructs. There is nothing magic about the choice of
number: two or three or seven or...Their numerical values are subjective, differing
from one choice of units to the next. Accordingly it is matter of convention whether
they are something we measure or something we define to be fixed. Consequently,
none of these dimensional constants is fundamental.
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Re: Slow changes in Fundamental Constants

Postby hyksos on April 10th, 2018, 3:35 am 

Lets consider this example from real academic physics.

The empty vacuum of space contains energy in it.
( Absurd? Wrong? Crazy? )

None of those. The idea that the vacuum of space contains a non-zero energy is completely consistent with all known laws of physics.

But it's more subtle. That the vacuum of space contains energy is not inconsistent with what we know. It sounds like a language trick, on par with "You can't prove that the train station is not haunted, because lack of evidence of the haunting is not inconsistent with the station being haunted."

It turns out that in this universe, is it impossible to tell what the absolute charge is in a location in space. Reason is because humans can only measure differences in charge between two points in space. Such a difference is called a potential charge difference, and we give it a funny name, voltage.

The same argument is true of heat and temperature. If you have two containers of hot water, both at 113 Celsius , you cannot create any apparatus that extracts work from those containers, because they are at equilibrium. Only when a difference in temperature exists, can the energy be "used" to perform work.

This is also true of gravitational potential energy. We humans cannot ever know what the gravitational potential energy of an object is in an "absolute" sense. We can only ever measure differences in potential gravity. I can place a bowling ball on a table and say that the bowling ball at rest is "zero" potential energy. If I lift it above the table I place work into the ball, and upon dropping it, it smashes into the table with the amount of energy exactly equal to what I placed into it earlier. Then again, I could dig a deep hole in the ground next to the table, and dig about 30 meters down into the earth. If I casually roll the bowling ball off the table, it will fall into the hole and smash the bottom releasing tremendous energy. But where did that come from, if it gravitational potential energy was "At zero" at the level of the table top?

We choose where the zero is. Because we cannot know the "absolute" gravitational energy of anything. Only differences between potentials has any physical meaning.

At first glance, vacuum energy appears to be leveraging the Fallacy of Unfalsifiability. It almost sounds like : "You must agree that vacuum energy exists, on account of the fact that you cannot prove it does not exist."

Unfortunately for some people on this forum {cough cough} , the reasons for supposing that the vacuum contains energy do not in any shape or form look like that claim! There are far deeper , more coherent, and more reasonable and satisfying reasons for supposing the existence of vacuum energy. Unlike Wetterich's theories, vacuum energy is not simply a Vacuous supposition that "Vacuum energy must be greater than zero because ya'll can't prove it aint." (yes that pun was intentional)

All we have on this forum so far is "You all must believe that mass of all particles is increasing, believe Big G is changing in tandem, and nobody can measure it happening... and my reasoning for such is that I have this irrational emotional desire with which you are not resonating." And then some incoherent pandering having to do with visualizing golf balls -- or whatever.
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