QUEST-Talk: Dr. Julian Berengut, University of New South Wales, Sydney

Tuesday, 17.07.2012, 14:00 h, Vieweg-Bau Room 133

Are the laws of physics changing? Searching for space-time variation of the fine-structure constant.

Recent results from astronomical observations provide hints that the fine-structure constant varies over cosmological distances. In one direction on the sky it appears to have been smaller in the past, while in the other direction it appears to have been larger. A remarkable result such as this must be independently confirmed by complementary searches. The comparison of atomic clocks in the laboratory could provide this complementary evidence, but the current limits must be improved by two orders-of-magnitude.

In this talk I will discuss the recent astronomical results and several atomic clock proposals that could enable experiments to reach the required sensitivity. These include nuclear clocks and transitions in highly-charged ions that would have the highest sensitivity to variation of the fine-structure constant ever seen in atomic systems. Measurement of variations in the constants of nature as a function of space and time would provide fundamental insights into the deepest questions of physics and cosmology.