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Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics

Image courtesy Jean PodevinThe constants of Nature are quantities, whose numerical value we know with the greatest experimental accuracy - but about the rationale for those values, we have the greatest ignorance. We might also ask if they are indeed constant in space and time, and investigate whether their values arise at random or are uniquely determined by some deep theory.

This mini-series of talks is part of the joint Oxford-Cambridge programme on the Philosophy of Cosmology which aims to introduce philosophers of physics to fundamental problems in cosmology and associated areas of high-energy physics. The talks are aimed at philosophers of physics but should also be of interest to a wide range of cosmologists.  Speakers will introduce the physical constants that define the standard model of particle physics and cosmology together with the data that determine them, describe observational programmes that test the constancy of traditional ‘constants’, and discuss how self-consistent theories of varying constants can be formulated. 


John Barrow, University of Cambridge
John Ellis, King's College London
Pedro Ferreira, University of Oxford
Joao Magueijo, Imperial College London
Thanu Padmanabhan, Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics, Pune
Martin Rees, University of Cambridge
John Webb, University of New South Wales, Sydney


Venue: University of Cambridge, Centre for Mathematical Sciences, Cambridge CB3 0WA, UK

Organisers: Professor John D Barrow FRS, Dr Jeremy Butterfield FBA, Dr David Sloan. Part of a collaborative University of Cambridge/University of Oxford research project on 'Establishing the Philosophy of Cosmology'.


How to register:

Registration is now open - please book online here. The conference is open to university research staff and current postgraduate students in physics and the philosophy of science. Registration is free, and includes morning coffee and lunch.

Please note that the deadline for registration is Friday 28 February 2014.


Monday 17 March Tuesday 18 March Wednesday 19 March
09.00 - 09.30 Registration (09.00-09.15) 
Welcome and introduction (09.15 - 09.30)
09.30 - 10.30 John Barrow: 
Introductory overview
09.30 -10.30 John Ellis: 
Constants in the Standard Model (ii)
09.30 - 10.30 John Webb: 
Astronomical probes of constants (ii)
10.30 - 11.00 Coffee 10.30 - 11.00 Coffee 10.30 - 11.00 Coffee
11.00 - 12.00 John Ellis: 
Constants in the Standard Model (i)
11.00 - 12.00 Thanu Padmanabhan: 
Cosmological constants (i)
11.00 - 12.00 Joao Magueijo: 
Variations of c and other constants
12.00 - 13.00 John Webb: 
Astronomical probes of constants (i)
12.00 - 13.00 Pedro Ferreira: 
Gravitation constants
12.00 -13.00 Thanu Padmanabhan: 
Cosmological constants (ii)
13.00  Lunch 13.00  Lunch 13.00  Lunch
18.00 - 19:00
Public talk
Martin Rees:
Our Universe and Others



Please note this timetable may be subject to slight change