Universe in Flux: Constant of nature might have changed | Science News


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Universe in Flux: Constant of nature might have changed

10:16am, April 26, 2006

Scientists have long assumed that a few characteristics of the cosmos are as unvarying as the laws of physics themselves. These so-called constants of nature include the speed of light in a vacuum and the masses of some elementary particles.

Now, a team of physicists and astronomers in the Netherlands, Russia, and France has found signs that one of the constants has undergone a subtle shift since the infancy of the universe.

The new findings indicate that the ratio between the mass of the proton and that of the electron—a number known as mu—might have decreased by about two-thousandths of a percent in the past 12 billion years, say Elmar Reinhold, now of the European

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