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Q & A: Ali G writes in

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Most recent answer: 10/22/2007
Q:
uma...soo...how...can ya be "sure"...dat...da twenty constants of the universe will forever be "constant"?...and how do u know that there ainít any more of de...constants or any less?...(in da universe)......another question is that how, (out of educational curiosity) did uíall get all these detailed knowledge!...of physics and other fields...is it just by taking classes??? dat easy?
- Anonymous (age 13)
A:
We arenít sure at all that the twenty-plus íconstantsí of current physical theory will always be constant. We are quite sure that some were different in the first moments of the Big Bang. Quite possibly, one of the íconstantsí that wasnít constant is a very simple one: the number of extended spatial dimensions, currently 3. There are occasional attempts to look at signals from ancient galaxies etc to see if other íconstantsí may have been changing slightly after the first moments of the Big Bang, but thereís no clear indication of that yet.

We also arenít sure that there arenít more or fewer independent constants. Maybe weíve just missed some physical phenomena (new types of particles) which will require introducing new constants when theyíre found. Maybe some deeper theory will show that some of the constants of our current theory follow from a smaller set of numbers.

We picked up some of our knowledge in classes, but more comes from hanging around with the right crowd and reading articles in journals.

Mike W.

(published on 10/22/2007)

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