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Word Count: 1,323
A whiff of heresy is in the air There are very few beliefs in science that have the force of doctrine but among them is the conviction that the speed of light is fixed It forms the rock upon which Einstein built one of the 20th centurys most enduring monuments the General Theory of Relativity But in science nothing is sacred and several leading theoretical physicists are now toying with the delicious notion that the speed of light may not be constant after all - but may actually have varied during the 15 billion years the Universe has existed To some it remains anathema It took us a year to get the first paper published in Physical Review says Dr Joo Magueijo a young Portuguese physicist now a lecturer at Imperial College in London The scientists who were asked to comment just couldnt accept it Finally the editor stepped in and it appeared At the age of 11 Dr Magueijo was inspired by The Evolution of Physics a slim volume by Einstein and Leopold Infeld A dog-eared copy in Portuguese lies on his desk at Imperial College The best book ever written about physics as he calls it set him on a course that took him to the University of Lisbon then Cambridge as a research fellow at St Johns and now London But if he is right Einsteins conviction that light travels at a fixed and unalterable speed is about to be dethroned Dr Magueijo and colleagues with whom he has worked - Dr Andy Albrecht of the University of California at Davis and Professor John Barrow of Cambridge - were not quite the first to have this idea Dr John Moffat of the University of Toronto had floated it but they were unaware of his work until he complained it hadnt been properly acknowledged in the Physical Review Of course nobody would make such a radical suggestion
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