Why I’m Skeptical About the Changing Fine-Structure Constant

Not long ago, a new preprint on the fine structure constant got a bunch of press, nicely summed up by the Knight Science Journalism Tracker last week. I meant to say something about this last week, but what with it being the first week of classes and all, I didn’t find the time. I still […]

Inconstant Constants: “Probing fundamental constant evolution with redshifted conjugate-satellite OH lines”

Via Jennifer Ouellette on Twitter, I ran across a Discovery News story touting a recent arxiv preprint claiming to see variation in the fine-structure constant. It’s a basically OK story, but garbles a few details, so I thought it would be worth giving it the ResearchBlogging treatment, in the now-traditional Q&A format. What did they […]

Amazing Laser Application 11: Frequency Combs!

What’s the application? An optical frequency comb is a short-duration pulsed laser whose output can be viewed as a regularly spaced series of different frequencies. If the pulses are short enough, this can span the entire visible spectrum, giving a “comb” of colored lines on a traditional spectrometer. This can be used for a wide […]