Rotating Question Curious About Astronomy? Ask an Astronomer

How will a change in the speed of light affect the evolution of the Universe?

What percent of change in the speed of light is needed, to affect significantly the evolution of our universe?

First, it will not be possible to detect a change in the speed of light (in vacuum)! It is only possible to detect a change in dimensionless numbers that are ratios of other constants that have dimensions (like c). I refer you to this article.

That said, if the fine structure constant (an important number in atomic physics, involving the charge of the electron, Planck's constant, speed of light) changes by an amount more than about 0.01, then things will be significantly different. There cannot be any more production of carbon in stars from burning helium; In other words, we would not exist today if the value of the fine structure constant in the past was significantly different from what it is today! For a more esoteric discussion, refer here.

December 2002, Jagadheep D. Pandian (more by Jagadheep D. Pandian) (Like this Answer)

Still Curious?

Get More 'Curious?' with Our New PODCAST:

Related questions:

More questions about Cosmology and the Big Bang: Previous | Next

How to ask a question:

If you have a follow-up question concerning the above subject, submit it here. If you have a question about another area of astronomy, find the topic you're interested in from the archive on our site menu, or go here for help.

Table 'curious.Referrers' doesn't existTable 'curious.Referrers' doesn't exist

URL: http://curious.astro.cornell.edu/question.php?number=496
This page has been accessed 25978 times since March 9, 2003.
Last modified: March 9, 2003 4:54:14 PM

Legal questions? See our copyright, disclaimer and privacy policy.
Ask an Astronomer is hosted by the Astronomy Department at Cornell University and is produced with PHP and MySQL.

Warning: Your browser is misbehaving! This page might look ugly. (Details)