Living Reviews in Relativity – No. 100: “Varying Constants, Gravitation and Cosmology”

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Today, Living Reviews in Relativity has published a new review article on “Varying Constants, Gravitation and Cosmology” by Jean-Philippe Uzan. Please find the abstract and further details below.


Thus, our journal offers 100 review articles on 72 different topics in in various areas of relativity. All full texts are free of charge, following the principles of the Open Access to Scientific Knowledge movement. Our reference database now contains about 20,000 references which are linked to the reviews and can be exported in various formats.

The success of Living Reviews in Relativity has been acknowledged by its high Impact Factor (10.600), and just recently by SPIRES including 10 reviews in the Top Cited Articles during 2010 in gr-qc. Overall, nine articles made it to the list of the 100 most highly cited papers of all time.

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PUB.NO. lrr-2011-2
Uzan, Jean-Philippe
“Varying Constants, Gravitation and Cosmology”

ACCEPTED: 2011-03-23
PUBLISHED: 2011-03-29


(incl. 6 Figures and 554 references)

Fundamental constants are a cornerstone of our physical laws. Any constant varying in space and/or time would reflect the existence of an almost massless field that couples to matter. This will induce a violation of the universality of free fall. Thus, it is of utmost importance for our understanding of gravity and of the domain of validity of general relativity to test for their constancy. We detail the relations between the constants, the tests of the local position invariance and of the universality of free fall. We then review the main experimental and observational constraints that have been obtained from atomic clocks, the Oklo phenomenon, solar system observations, meteorite dating, quasar absorption spectra, stellar physics, pulsar timing, the cosmic microwave background and big bang nucleosynthesis. At each step we describe the basics of each system, its dependence with respect to the constants, the known systematic effects and the most recent constraints that have been obtained. We then describe the main theoretical frameworks in which the low-energy constants may actually be varying and we focus on the unification mechanisms and the relations between the variation of different constants. To finish, we discuss the more speculative possibility of understanding their numerical values and the apparent fine-tuning that they confront us with.



Living Reviews in Relativity
ISSN: 1433-8351

Published by
Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics
(Albert Einstein Institute)