Using a "cup of water" to "unlocks" the secrets of the cosmos.
In groundbreaking research from Queen Mary University of London, published in Science Advances, scientists disclose a potential range wherein fundamental constants might vary. This variance holds implications for the viscosity crucial for life processes both inside and among living cells, marking a significant stride toward understanding the genesis of these constants and their role in shaping life.
Diving into Fundamental Constants
Defining our universe’s makeup, fundamental physical constants remain consistent and universal over time. For instance, consider the electron’s mass. Not only do these constants drive nuclear reactions, leading to molecular structures vital for life, but their origins also remain elusive. The team’s study is inching closer to decoding the origin of these constants.
“In simple terms, the way water behaves in a cup is intrinsically linked to understanding these core constants,” says the research team. Fluid motion within and between living cells hinges on viscosity. Any shift in these constants alters viscosity, with potential catastrophic effects on life. Envision a world where water resembles tar, making life untenable. This goes beyond just water; any life form reliant on a liquid state would be impacted.
Impact on Liquid-Based Life
Fundamental constant shifts, be it an increment or decrement, could be devastating for fluid flow and liquid-dependent life forms. “The range is believed to be narrow. Just a minor change in constants like the Planck constant or electron charge could result in our blood’s viscosity being either too thick or too thin for life,” remarked Professor of Physics, Kostya Trachenko.
Delving Deeper into Constants’ History
Intriguingly, these constants were believed to be preset eons ago, aiming at generating heavy nuclei in stars, at a time when contemporary life forms didn’t exist. There wasn’t an imperative to refine these constants to accommodate cellular life that emerged billions of years later. Yet, astonishingly, they seem to facilitate the fluid flow essential for living cells today.
This leads to speculation that these constants might have undergone several tunings, drawing parallels with biological evolution, where traits were acquired autonomously. Could the principles of evolution play a role in understanding these constants’ origins? Only further research can tell.
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