eldavojohn writes: Two papers in prepublication claim that the fine structure constant has changed (probably over time). It's long been theorized that as the universe ages constants we have now change ever so slightly over time and the only way to test this theory is to point very sensitive equipment at light that passed through gas clouds millions of light years away. The real conundrum comes from the measurements that researchers have collected from the Keck Telescope in 2004 and the Very Large Telescope today. The Keck data, which was harvested from the Northern Hemisphere, indicates that the fine structure constant was once smaller while the VLT data, which was harvest from the Southern Hemisphere, indicates that the fine structure constant was once LARGER. This causes the research to indicate a spatial dependence on variances in the fine structure constant with suggestions that changes in the fundamental constants may be observable as 'spatial anisotropy in the cosmic microwave background, the accelerated expansion (dark energy), and large-scale structure of the Universe.' Of course, challenging constants is all the rage these days.