Speed of light maybe not as constant as we thought AUG 07 2002
A team of Australian scientists, led by Paul Davies (who has written several books on physics...I've read About Time) is theorising that electromagnetic waves may not have a constant speed as is commonly accepted. Predictably, the lead of this wire article focuses on Einstein being wrong...although Davies does a nice job in correcting that somewhat by saying, "it doesn't mean we just throw the books in the bin, because it's in the nature of scientific revolution that the old theories become incorporated in the new ones."
The most interesting bit of the discovery is the revelation that atoms from 12 billion years ago and present-day atoms are fundamentally different and that the difference seems to affect the speed of light. When we get some answers as to how that happened and if the process is reproducible, that'll be something. Mimicking nature in atom manipulation has provided us with new compounds, new elements, vast amounts of energy, and loads of new discoveries. Who knows what is possible if we can modify atoms to alter the speed of light.
As an enthusiastic arm-chair scientist, I'm waiting to hear about this from a slightly more rigorous source than Reuters before speculating further. (
Does anyone have a subscription to the Nature site? I wouldn't mind getting a peek at the actual article in the August 8th issue... Update: Got a copy of the Nature article...thanks Danielle.)