Friday, September 17, 2010

Data Instability

You know what happens the more you look, right? Well guess what, the upstate ballot results are in and it's now official: we know absolutely nothing.

Two major astronomical observatories recently wrapped up an exhaustive study of the fine-structure constant (also known as alpha or the "magic number" which defines the strength of electromagnetism). This constant has for years been a keystone on which our understanding of physics depends.

Well, guess what they learned? The constant is not constant. According to Kotaku:

"After measuring alpha in around 300 distant galaxies, a consistency emerged: this magic number, which tells us the strength of electromagnetism, is not the same everywhere as it is here on Earth, and seems to vary continuously along a preferred axis through the universe," Professor John Webb from the University of New South Wales said.

Oops. Back to the old drawing board.

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