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Just four numbers underpin the laws of physics. That's why scientists have for decades looked for any discrepancies in these so-called fundamental constants. Finding such a variation would rock the very foundations of modern science.
Not to mention, it would guarantee at least one lucky researcher a free trip to Stockholm, a shiny new gold medal and a million bucks.
Pair - Astronomers - Stars - Universe - Constancy
Recently, a pair of astronomers turned to one of the oldest stars in the universe to test the constancy of one of the superstars of the four fundamental forces of nature — gravity. They looked back in time over the past few billion years for any inconsistencies.
Not to give away the full story, but no Nobel Prizes will be awarded just yet.
Newton - Constant - G - Gravity - Newton
We take Newton's gravitational constant (denoted simply by "G") for granted, probably because gravity is pretty predictable. We call it Newton's gravitational constant because Newton was the first person to really need it to help describe his famous laws of motion. Using his newly invented calculus, he was able to extend his laws of motion to explain the behavior of everything from apples falling from a tree to the orbits of the planets around the sun. But nothing in his math told him just how strong gravity ought to be — that had to be experimentally measured and slipped in to make the laws work.
And it's basically been that way for centuries — measuring G on its own and plugging it into the equations when needed. Nowadays, we have a more sophisticated understanding of gravity, thanks to Einstein's theory of general relativity, which describes how gravity arises from the distortion of space-time itself. And one of the cornerstones of relativity is that physical laws should stay the same in all reference frames.
Observer - Reference
This means that if one observer in a particular reference...
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