Author(s): John Barrow
The constants of Nature are the fundamental laws of physics that apply throughout the universe: gravity, velocity of light, electromagnetism and quantum mechanics. They encode the deepest secrets of the Universe, and express at once our greatest knowledge and our greatest ignorance about the cosmos. Their existence has taught us the profound truth that Nature abounds with unseen regularities. Yet, while we have become skilled at measuring the values of these constants, our frustrating inability to explain or predict their values shows how much we have still to learn about inner workings of the Universe.
"What is the ultimate status of these constants of Nature? Do we know why they are as they are? Are they truly constant? Are they everywhere the same? Are they all linked? Could life have evolved and persisted if they were even slightly different? And are there other Universes where they are different? These are some of the issues that this book will grapple with. It will look back to the discoveries of the first constants of Nature and the impact they had on scientists like Einstein. New theories of the Universe lead us to expect that other dimensions of space exist. Our constants of Nature may offer us a unique window into higher dimensions of space.
This book also tells the story of a tantalising new development in astronomy. For the first time astronomical observations are suggesting that some of the constants of Nature were different when the Universe was younger. So are our laws of Nature slowly changing? Is anything about our Universe immune from the ravages of time? Are there any constants of Nature at all? Read this book to discover the latest thinking about these dramatic questions. First published 2002.
'Fascinating...The major strength of the book lies in the diversity of topics discussed' Nature
John Barrow is Research Professor of Mathematical Sciences in the Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics at the University of Cambridge. He is the author of several bestselling books, including Theories of Everything and Impossibility.