“Using a quasar located 12.3 billion light-years away as a beacon, a team of astronomers detected the presence of molecular hydrogen in the farthest system ever, an otherwise invisible galaxy that we observe when the Universe was less than 1.5 billion years old, that is, about 10% of its present age. The astronomers find that there is about one hydrogen molecule for 250 hydrogen atoms. A similar set of observations for two other quasars, together with the most precise laboratory measurements, allows scientists to infer that the ratio of the proton to electron masses may have changed with time. If confirmed, this would have important consequences on our understanding of physics.”
Important consequences is a pretty serious understatement. This is HUGE. Capital H-U-G-E. If this verifies it means that we have to go back and re-evaluate all the calculations that lead folks to postulate the existence of dark matter and dark energy. (If the gravitational constant is greater in the early universe than it is today, then we have a different explanation for the unusually high gravity observed in the early Universe.) If the basic constants of the Universe can change over time then it means we have to rework whole swaths of cosmological reasoning.
Of course this wouldn’t do much to explain the funky rotation curves of the local galaxies, but still…
(Via Physics Org.)