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16
votes
10answers
9k 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 ...
14
votes
4answers
2k 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 ...
11
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 ...
11
votes
5answers
3k 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 ...
9
votes
3answers
195 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
2k 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 ...
42
votes
5answers
5k 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, ...
11
votes
4answers
464 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?)
12
votes
6answers
2k 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 ...
4
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 ...
4
votes
5answers
4k 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?
8
votes
0answers
150 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 ...
3
votes
3answers
674 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 ...
3
votes
2answers
645 views

What is the smallest existing thing in theory and law?

What is the smallest existing thing in theory and law?
7
votes
4answers
385 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 ...
6
votes
1answer
376 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 ...
10
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? $$\sum_{m=1}^{\infty } \frac{1}{10^{26}(m^2+1)_{2m}}=$$ ...
7
votes
1answer
156 views

Why is it meaningless to speak about changes in a dimensional constant?

Every so often,* we get a question about what would happen should there be a change in a physical constant that contains dimensional information, such as $\hbar$, $c$, $G$, or often "the scale of the ...
11
votes
4answers
355 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 ...
1
vote
4answers
349 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? ...
5
votes
2answers
627 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 ...
5
votes
1answer
338 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? ...
4
votes
1answer
518 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 ...
1
vote
1answer
875 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 ...
16
votes
5answers
2k 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 ...
15
votes
7answers
586 views

Is there a limit to acceleration?

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
286 views

The gravitational constant $G$ theoretically?

We know all that the gravitational constant is $$G=6.67428±0.00067\times 10^{-11}m^{3} kg^{-1} s^{-1}.$$ But can we calculate it theoretically?
3
votes
1answer
211 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 ...
1
vote
3answers
453 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
329 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
5answers
1k 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 ...
4
votes
1answer
165 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
126 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 ...
2
votes
2answers
322 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 = ...
2
votes
3answers
188 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 ...
1
vote
3answers
544 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 ...
0
votes
1answer
97 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 ...