Einstein's relativity theory is one of the things people learn in basic physics, and most of the applications that shape today's science are applied on it. But what if the theory doesn't always hold true? That's not to say that it's wrong, but just that it didn't foresee everything. Physicists at Indiana University (IU) believe they may have found abnormalities in the Lorentz invariance, a crucial part of Einstein's theory, which prove relativity is not always constant.
"It is surprising and delightful that comparatively large relativity violations could still be awaiting discovery despite a century of precision testing. Discovering them would be like finding a camel in a haystack instead of a needle," says Alan Kostelecky, a distinguished physics professor at IU.
Basically, these violations would mean that the flow of space and time are not the same always, or even in the same areas. That is to say, various objects, such as the proverbial apples, fall differently from a tree each time because the conditions that led to their falling are never the same. These inconsistencies in the Lorentz invariance could also account for why objects behave differently in identical conditions.
"No dedicated experiment has yet sought a seasonal variation of the rate of an object's fall in the Earth's gravity. Since Newton's time over 300 years ago, apples have been assumed to fall at the same rate in the summer and the winter," the physicist adds. "The gravitational properties of antimatter remain largely unexplored. If an apple and an anti-apple were dropped simultaneously from the leaning Tower of Pisa, nobody knows whether they would hit the ground at the same or different times."
The new study proposes some experiments to test if the abnormalities in the Lorentz invariance can be detected in nature. The research was funded by the Office of Science belonging to the US Department of Energy.