16:36 29 November 2016
Albert Einstein’s groundbreaking theory on relativity, which has been used to work out the age of the universe, was built on the foundation that the speed of light was constant in a vacuum. However, researchers now challenge his theory suggesting that speed of light may not be as constant as Einstein thought.
In the late 1990s, a physicist from Imperial College London, João Magueijo, suggested that the speed of light might not have been constant in the early universe. Physicists believe that in the seconds after the Big Bang, the universe expanded rapidly from a single point, in a process called inflation.
Professor Magueijo and Dr Niayesh Afshordi from the Perimeter Institute in Canada say that they are now ready to test the observations.
‘The theory, which we first proposed in the late-1990s, has now reached a maturity point – it has produced a testable prediction,' said Professor Magueijo.
‘If observations in the near future do find this number to be accurate, it could lead to a modification of Einstein’s theory of gravity.
‘The idea that the speed of light could be variable was radical when first proposed, but with a numerical prediction, it becomes something physicists can actually test.
‘If true, it would mean that the laws of nature were not always the same as they are today.’
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