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20
votes
10answers
13k views

Why and how is the speed of light in vacuum constant, i.e., independent of reference frame?

I was told that the Galilean relative velocity rule does not apply to the speed of light. No matter how fast two objects are moving, the speed of light will remain same for both of them. How and why ...
16
votes
4answers
3k views

What is so special about speed of light in vacuum?

I will try to be as explanatory as possible with my question. Please also note that I have done my share of googling and I am looking for simple language preferable with some example so that I can get ...
14
votes
7answers
2k views

What is the proof that the universal constants ($G$, $\hbar$, $\ldots$) are really constant in time and space?

Cavendish measured the gravitation constant $G$, but actually he measured that constant on the Earth. What’s the proof that the value of the gravitation constant if measured on Neptune would remain ...
18
votes
5answers
4k views

How to get Planck length

I know that what Planck length equals to. The first question is, how do you get the formula $$\ell_P~=~\sqrt\frac{\hbar G}{c^3}$$ that describes the Planck length? The second question is, will any ...
8
votes
17answers
2k views

The origin of the value of speed of light

Meaning, why is it the exact number that it is? Why not 2x10^8 m/s instead of 3? Does it have something to do with the mass, size or behavior of a photon? To be clear, I'm not asking "how we ...
1
vote
4answers
1k views

What's so special about the speed of light? [duplicate]

What's so special about the speed of light? Why do many equations in physics include the speed of light in vacuum $c$? Why do so many thing depend upon it? Why can't it be the speed of sound? ...
9
votes
3answers
1k views

Why do universal constants have the values they do?

This is meant to be a generic question of the type that we get repeatedly on this site, in different versions: The origin of the value of speed of light The gravitational constant G theoretically? ...
8
votes
2answers
3k views

Has the speed of light changed over time?

Could someone judge my (stoner) hypothesis that the speed of light has changed over time -- ie. as the universe has expanded in volume light has slowed down, perhaps going so far as back to the big ...
11
votes
4answers
502 views

Is the Fine Stucture constant constant?

I have read that the fine structure constant may well not be a constant. Now, if this were to be true, what would be the effect of a higher or lower value? (and why?)
3
votes
2answers
865 views

What if physical constants were increased or decreased? [closed]

(Probably related to this one, and probably should be CW.) A very long time ago, I had the good fortune to read George Gamow's excellent series of Mr. Tompkins books. That introduced me to the idea ...
5
votes
4answers
1k views

Can Planck's constant be derived from Maxwell's equations?

Can mathematics (including statistics, dynamical systems,...) combined with classical electromagnetism (using only the constants appearing in chargefree Maxwell equations) be used to derive the Planck ...
44
votes
5answers
6k views

Dimensionless Constants in Physics

Forgive me if this topic is too much in the realm of philosophy. John Baez has an interesting perspective on the relative importance of dimensionless constants, which he calls fundamental like alpha, ...
5
votes
6answers
7k views

Do we take gravity = 9.8 m/s² for all heights when solving problems? Why or why not?

Do we take gravity = 9.8 m/s² for all heights when solving problems?
7
votes
0answers
201 views

Why is the Planck length the shortest measurable length? [duplicate]

I quote from the Wikipedia article on Planck length: According to the generalized uncertainty principle, the Planck length is in principle, within a factor of order unity, the shortest ...
14
votes
6answers
4k views

Why does the speed of light $c$ have the value it does?

Why does light have the speed it does? why is it not considerably faster or slower than it is? I can't imagine science, being what it is, not pursuing a rational scientific explanation for the speed ...
7
votes
4answers
419 views

Cases of any known fundamental physical constants changing within our locality?

Has there been any cases where the only explanation has been that at least one of the physical constants must have changed to explain an experiment/event/obervation? I am not intrested in large scale ...
3
votes
2answers
1k views

What is the smallest existing thing in theory and law?

What is the smallest existing thing in theory and law?
37
votes
3answers
6k views

Is the Planck length the smallest length that exists in the universe or is it the smallest length that can be observed?

I have heard both that Planck length is the smallest length that there is in the universe (whatever this means) and that it is the smallest thing that can be observed because if we wanted to observe ...
38
votes
8answers
7k views

Why does the speed of light in vacuum have no uncertainty?

I could understand that the definition of a second wouldn't have an uncertainty when related to the transition of the Cs atom, so it doesn't have an error because it's an absolute reference and we ...
14
votes
4answers
720 views

Why isn't it $E \approx 27.642 \times mc^2$?

Sorry for the strange question, but why is it that many of the most important physical equations don't have ugly numbers (i.e., "arbitrary" irrational factors) to line up both sides? Why can so many ...
9
votes
3answers
216 views

Is it possible to speak about changes in a physical constant which is not dimensionless?

Every so often, one sees on this site* or in the news† or in journal articles‡ a statement of the form "we have measured a change in such-and-such fundamental constant" (or, perhaps more commonly, "we ...
5
votes
2answers
708 views

How can I explain the scientific basis of the constant speed of light to a $c$-decay proponent?

This Phys.SE question asks why and how the speed of light is constant. I would like to ask a related, almost converse question: Given that the speed of light is constant, how could I explain to a ...
6
votes
1answer
442 views

Is there an explanation for the 3:2:1 ratio between the electron, up and down quark electric charges?

I understand that the NNG formula relates $Q$, $I_3$, and $Y$ and can be derived in QCD; does this unambiguously predict the electric charge ratios without making assumptions about the definitions of ...
1
vote
1answer
1k views

What do physicists mean when they say “speed of light”?

Does it make sense to say, "The speed of light varies?" Some may say right off the bat "Yes, it changes as a wave passes through a different medium." However, I'd like to say no, because when I hear ...
17
votes
6answers
3k views

How can the speed of light be a dimensionless constant?

This is a quote from the book A first course in general relativity by Schutz: What we shall now do is adopt a new unit for time, the meter. One meter of time is the time it takes light to travel ...
9
votes
3answers
3k views

Have I discovered how to calculate the proton's mass using only integers?

Could it be possible that the mass of the proton can be calculated by a series of integer sequences? Or is this just a curiosity? $$\sum_{m=1}^{\infty } \frac{1}{10^{26}(m^2+1)_{2m}}=$$ ...
5
votes
1answer
568 views

Additional merits to Wetterich's “Universe without expansion” compared to standard cosmological redshift interpretation?

A recent news item in Nature promotes Wetterich's preprint "A Universe without expansion". All sounds very exciting but hard to judge for non-experts. As I understand from the Nature's article, the ...
5
votes
1answer
390 views

Deriving or justifying fundamental constants

Is there a fundamental way to look at the universal constants ? can their orders of magnitude be explained from a general points of view like stability, causality, information theory, uncertainty? ...
3
votes
1answer
115 views

From which dimensionful constants does proton mass arise?

It is well known that the most of the proton (or any other hadron with light quarks) mass is not made up from quark masses, but it is dynamically generated by QCD mess inside. I've also heard that, ...
1
vote
3answers
622 views

The vacuum light speed: Is it really constant, i.e., independent of location in space-time?

I am by no means an expert in this field, however something puzzles me about the speed of light and the relativity of time and space (space-time). Is is universally acknowledged that the speed of ...
15
votes
7answers
948 views

Is there a limit to acceleration? [duplicate]

As we all know the speed of light is the limit at which energy/matter can travel through our universe. My question being: is there a similar limit for acceleration? Is there a limit to how quickly ...
12
votes
4answers
1k views

What's keeping us from simply redefining Avogadro's Number / the Mole as a definite integer?

This might be a question to ask in a Chemistry site, but because there is a lot of talk about redefining many units of measurements in terms of Avogadro's Number / the Mole, I was wondering why we ...
5
votes
5answers
409 views

The gravitational constant $G$ theoretically?

We know all that the gravitational constant is $$G=6.67428±0.00067\times 10^{-11}m^{3} kg^{-1} s^{-2}.$$ But can we calculate it theoretically?
7
votes
5answers
2k views

Is the speed of light in vacuum always the same value?

The escape velocity of different planets and stars vary. If they vary, the velocities of bodies escaping from the respective stars or planets should also vary. Like, if I want a ball to reach 10 ...
3
votes
2answers
861 views

The famous drop of $c$

In this, in my opinion, intriguing speech, Rupert Sheldrake, tells the story of the drop between the measured valued of $c$ in 1928 and 1945. When he goes to visit the Head of Metrology of the Physics ...
4
votes
5answers
2k views

Planck mass is about the mass of one eyebrow hair

Unlike most Planck units named after "Planck" such as Planck length, Planck temperature, etc, the Planck mass seems more closed to daily life. It is about $10^{-5}$g, same order of magnitude of one ...
3
votes
1answer
224 views

If Fine Structure Constant in not uniform in space what would that imply for cosmic background?

Recently J.Webb submitted paper which has extraordinary claim - that Fine Structure Constant is different in different directions in space! He (with others) measured $\alpha$ using quasar spectrum ...
2
votes
3answers
477 views

Are length contractions limited by Planck length?

While we are getting closer to speed of light our length in the direction of the movement is according to Lorentz transformation getting shorter. But we can not (even theoretically) consider length ...
1
vote
1answer
127 views

Planck length paradox [closed]

This is a paradox I thought of a few days ago, and I wanted to ask whether it makes any sense and where the mistake is. We know that the nothing but light can move faster than light itself. So in a ...
1
vote
1answer
194 views

Why is the gravitational force $10^{38}$ times smaller than the strong nuclear force?

Also, why is the weak interaction force $10^7$ times smaller than the strong nuclear force?
1
vote
3answers
485 views

What is the reason behind specific values for charge of electrons, protons?

Why do things like protons and neutrons have specific values. Also speed of light is a speed in which even if you go towards it, the speed does not vary. But why does light have to travel at speed?
7
votes
3answers
347 views

why there is no accuracy of the measured value of $G$?

With the advancement of Modern Technology still there is no accuracy of the measured value of $G$ Gravitational Constant, why!?
4
votes
1answer
177 views

Fine Tuned Universe

Is the fine tuning that cosmologists talk about (that our Universe is fine tuned for intelligent life) is the same as the fine tuning of the squared mass parameter of the Higgs in the Standard Model? ...
3
votes
1answer
133 views

The fine structure non-constant

If the fine structure constant is different in different parts of the universe, then what would happen if we travelled to those regions? (I realise this is completely impossible as they are ...
3
votes
3answers
189 views

What widely recognized organizations set standards used by physics?

I recently answered a question about the meaning of the word "dimension" as used in physics. In that response, I provided the definition given in the International Vocabulary of Metrology (VIM) and ...
2
votes
2answers
320 views

Why is the Luminiferous aether theory wrong? [closed]

I saw on this page about the constant speed of light that there are two ways of interpreting this constant speed: General relativity The Luminiferous aether theory I understand why the theory of ...
2
votes
2answers
348 views

Newton's Law of Graviation: Why $G$ and not e.g. $\dfrac{1}{4\pi G_0}$?

I've been wondering, in Coulomb's Law, $k_e = \dfrac{1}{4\pi\epsilon_0}$. Therefore, why do we use $G$ in Newton's Law of Gravitation? What if the constant is more like Coulomb's Law, e.g. $G = ...
0
votes
1answer
111 views

In general, could any ad-hoc relationship of constants be useful?

In general; if one creates an ad-hoc relationship of constants, can we use it to solve equations OR is it just an abstract/artificial math construct? I'm a grad student and as we all know, these ...
-2
votes
1answer
156 views

Emission and absorption of photons by electrons [closed]

Two questions occur at a critical review of the two famous experiments devised by Millikan in 1914, respectively Duane, Hunt and others in 1917-1920, which confirmed the action constant calculated by ...
-2
votes
4answers
587 views

Why is the speed of light considered as a fundamental constant if its speed changes with medium resulting in refraction? [duplicate]

I know that the speed of light, the universal constant of gravitation and the Planck's constant are considered to be the three fundamental constants of the universe. But, why is speed of light ...