Physics at the Edge of the Universe

John Webb and his colleagues have made a discovery that suggests the laws of physics may be entirely different in different parts of the Universe.  This goes in sharp contrast to Einstein’s Equivalence Principle which has dictated for almost a century that the laws of physics must be the same throughout space without exception.  If Webb’s discovery is proven, it could be a major scientific breakthrough with many thought provoking questions to follow.

The discovery came in the form of Webb’s observation of light.  The light Webb observed was seen at varying strengths depending on where in the cosmos the quasar emitting it was.  Webb had the same initial suspicion many others do about his findings until he checked again and once again discovered something was quite different than what he had anticipated.  If his discovery proves true, the laws of physics may not be universal laws at all, but rather spatial interpretations that change over time depending on where in the universe you are.

Of course if this is the case, and laws of physics are not universal then does everything go out the window sending us back to a time a hundred years?  Not necessarily.  Conservative estimates of this principle suggest that while the laws may bend, they will not necessarily break.  And still other scientists are skeptical of Webb’s discovery.

But what if there was something that entirely reinterpreted the laws of physics?  Such an anomaly might prove to be mankind’s greatest tool or else a tremendous threat.  When one imagines the different laws of physics that might behave differently, the imagination is allowed to run wild thinking up incredible scenarios that not only space travelers may one day setting off for, but with the massive span of the Earth’s orbit around the sun, still miniscule compared to the sun’s orbit around Galactic central point where a single rotation takes 225 million Earth years.

In this vast distance, and the distance unfathomable beyond, perhaps the Earth will one day find itself passing through a field that completely alters physics all over the world.  Or is it possible more localized anomalies may be passed through all the time?  Could this be one source of unexplainable events on our planet?

But more drastic changes could take place as well.  In time as Earth passes through the universe it could eventually come to a place where light no longer reflects, or where heat is visible, or certain colors once within the visible spectrum are no longer visible.  Of course these are fairly concrete examples of something fairly technical and even abstract, but there are other possibilities as well.  If magnets ceased functioning the same way, or reversed, or any number of relatively minor seeming laws of physics were suddenly changed life on Earth would be affected in ways we couldn’t even begin to imagine and could perhaps stop altogether.  Of course considering life has been around for millions of years, it’s likely we’ll have plenty of time to focus on the potential implications of a world without constant physics.