It has long been thought that the universe is spatially symmetric with respect to its fundamental physical properties. Cosmologists relying on data from different regions of the sky (collected from different hemispheres or during different seasons) have always arrived at similar conclusions about the general features of the universe. But new research indicates the universe might not be so symmetric after all.
“Century-Old Physics Law Violated” declares Steven Mirsky in a recent report for Scientific American. But, as any philosopher of science will tell you, the laws of nature cannot be violated. At least not in the actual world, where the MIT researchers conducted their experiments (as opposed to some merely possible world). They discovered that when two bodies are brought to within ten billionths of a meter, the heat conducted between them is over a thousand times more than Planck’s theory of blackbody radiation predicts. Does this show that there are exceptions to Planck’s law of blackbody radiation? No. In the first place, “Planck was very careful, saying his theory was only valid for large systems,” Continue reading “When is a Law of Nature Broken?”