Twinbird24

Could the laws of physics have been different in the past?

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For example, is it possible that time moved slower in the past, and therefore the predicted age of the Earth is actually greater than ~4.5 billion years. Or perhaps the speed of light was different, which would mean things like the distance of stars from our planet are not what they may seem. I've so far encountered no evidence to suggest this, but would just like to open a discussion on it. My background is in Biology so forgive my naïveté in the matter.

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There have been a number of measurements made to see if various physical constants have changed. Some come from astronomy: when we look at distant galaxies, we are effectively looking back in time (because of the time taken for light to get here). If the speed of light or other physical constants were different then we would expect to see the some changes (such as different spectral lens of elements).

Another source of information is the natural nuclear reactor that existed at Oslo in Gabon about 2 billion years ago.

As far as I know, none of these studies have produced any evidence that physical constants have changed. Although we can never prove that they haven't changed, just that any change must be smaller than the experimental error.

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By "laws being different" does this just mean that  values for quantities like c could have been different or might there be "qualitative" **different in the way things worked?

 

Is our imagination the limit as to what rules the universe could play by?

 

 **"qualitative"not the right word...... 

Edited by geordief

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Well, its an interesting question: could it be that the equations describing how things work would need to have been different in the past? Possibly. But only if the end result looked just the same as that predicted by our current equations! The earliest evidence we can see appears to be consistent with current models.

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1 hour ago, Strange said:

 Another source of information is the natural nuclear reactor that existed at Oslo in Gabon about 2 billion years ago.

Oklo. Oslo is a little further North.

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2 hours ago, Twinbird24 said:

and therefore the predicted age of the Earth is actually greater than ~4.5 billion years.

Earth's age is measured using Rubidium-87 Strontium-87 radiometric dating method.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rubidium–strontium_dating

It uses fact that Rubidium-87 decays exclusively to Strontium-87 via beta decay minus. Half-life is 49.23 billions years

Strontium-87 is stable isotope, so it's not decaying anymore (and remain that way in the rock).

 

It just tell us "when the last time rock was melted".

(melting of rock will mix atoms and destroy proportions between Rb-87/Sr-87)

I showed calculations in OpenOffice SpreadSheet in this thread:

http://www.scienceforums.net/topic/104881-isochron-plots/?do=findComment&comment=983374

 

 

Edited by Sensei

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3 hours ago, Twinbird24 said:

For example, is it possible that time moved slower in the past, and therefore the predicted age of the Earth is actually greater than ~4.5 billion years. Or perhaps the speed of light was different, which would mean things like the distance of stars from our planet are not what they may seem. I've so far encountered no evidence to suggest this, but would just like to open a discussion on it. My background is in Biology so forgive my naïveté in the matter.

 

49 minutes ago, Sensei said:

Earth's age is measured using Rubidium-87 Strontium-87 radiometric dating method.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rubidium–strontium_dating

It uses fact that Rubidium-87 decays exclusively to Strontium-87 via beta decay minus. Half-life is 49.23 billions years

Strontium-87 is stable isotope, so it's not decaying anymore (and remain that way in the rock).

 

It just tell us "when the last time rock was melted".

(melting of rock will mix atoms and destroy proportions between Rb-87/Sr-87)

I showed calculations in OpenOffice SpreadSheet in this thread:

http://www.scienceforums.net/topic/104881-isochron-plots/?do=findComment&comment=983374

 

 

Isn't it true that time passed slower in the past because time passes slower nearer to a mass than away from it? If so then wouldn't time have passed slower the nearer you get to t=0? 

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54 minutes ago, Moontanman said:

Isn't it true that time passed slower in the past because time passes slower nearer to a mass than away from it?

Gravitational time dilation (in GR) has the same/similar influence on the all rocks here on the Earth.

I was just explaining how age of the Earth is measured.

 

Edited by Sensei

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18 minutes ago, Sensei said:

Gravitational time dilation (in GR) has the same/similar influence on the all rocks here on the Earth.

I was just explaining how age of the Earth is measured.

 

I understand that but is it true that time passes faster as time goes by? At least from the perspective of an outside observer? The more I think about the more absurd my question becomes. Perhaps I misunderstand the OP's question.  

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7 hours ago, swansont said:

Oklo. Oslo is a little further North.

I'm going to blame autocorrect (and bad typing). I don't think my knowledge of geography is that bad! 

6 hours ago, Moontanman said:

Isn't it true that time passed slower in the past because time passes slower nearer to a mass than away from it? If so then wouldn't time have passed slower the nearer you get to t=0? 

But you wouldn't be getting closer to mass. The mass is distributed (roughly) uniformly throughout the universe and that remains true as you go back earlier in the universe. If anything it becomes more evenly distributed (no stars and galaxies, just a uniform plasma) and so there is less possible variation in gravitational time dilation.

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Thanks for all the replies so far. I have not even heard of gravitational time dilation up until this point! I'm curious how the Oklo reactor provides evidence that physical constants have not changed for billions of years. The example that was provided regarding distant stars is great, something I could not have thought of.

 

Also, if anyone happens to know of any peer reviewed articles regarding this matter I would love to give them a read!

Edit: full disclosure, the reason I originally asked this question was in response to a small discussion that started on Reddit. Click here for the discussion (I am arguing against the God claim). A counterpoint was made that "I'm not confident that time works like you're thinking it does. Time is subject to things like speed/gravity/mass/energy. You can't just set a metronome and count back a number of ticks and pretend that gives a reasonable answer."

At this point, no evidence was provided that billions of years ago, things like time (along with any other physical constants) worked much differently than today. However, the scope of the discussion is going beyond what I know, so I'm trying to catch up and fill the gap.

Edited by Twinbird24

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20 hours ago, Twinbird24 said:

For example, is it possible that time moved slower in the past, and therefore the predicted age of the Earth is actually greater than ~4.5 billion years. Or perhaps the speed of light was different, which would mean things like the distance of stars from our planet are not what they may seem. I've so far encountered no evidence to suggest this, but would just like to open a discussion on it. My background is in Biology so forgive my naïveté in the matter.

This is part of Kent Hovind's ideas that (in his opinion) show a young earth.

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2 hours ago, Itoero said:

This is part of Kent Hovind's ideas that (in his opinion) show a young earth.

He's a creationist and is manipulating physics concepts to peddle his agenda. 

3 hours ago, Twinbird24 said:

Thanks for all the replies so far. I have not even heard of gravitational time dilation up until this point! I'm curious how the Oklo reactor provides evidence that physical constants have not changed for billions of years. The example that was provided regarding distant stars is great, something I could not have thought of.

The constants that govern nuclear structure had to have been constant or fission either would not have happened, or given the products that it did.

3 hours ago, Twinbird24 said:

Also, if anyone happens to know of any peer reviewed articles regarding this matter I would love to give them a read!

Edit: full disclosure, the reason I originally asked this question was in response to a small discussion that started on Reddit. Click here for the discussion (I am arguing against the God claim). A counterpoint was made that "I'm not confident that time works like you're thinking it does. Time is subject to things like speed/gravity/mass/energy. You can't just set a metronome and count back a number of ticks and pretend that gives a reasonable answer."

At this point, no evidence was provided that billions of years ago, things like time (along with any other physical constants) worked much differently than today. However, the scope of the discussion is going beyond what I know, so I'm trying to catch up and fill the gap.

We can check spectra from distant stars and see that the coupling constants relevant to those interactions have not changed. We can do precise measurements over some interval to show that the constants are currently not changing. Typically this is the fine structure constant.

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The video interviews on "Closer to Truth" give a number of well-known and Nobel Prize winning physicists' answers to this very question.

Here is the summary, introducing the interviews, on the topic "Are the Laws of Nature Always Constant?":

Summary: "The laws of nature or physics are assumed to be everywhere the same, on the far side of the universe as sure as on the far side of your house. Otherwise science itself could not succeed. But are these laws equally constant across time? Might the deep laws of physics change over eons of time? The implications would be profound."

Here is the link to the video interviews: https://www.closertotruth.com/series/are-the-laws-nature-always-constant

 

Edited by Rob McEachern

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