Nature is characterized by a number of physical laws and fundamental dimensionless couplings. These determine the properties of our physical universe, from the size of atoms, cells and mountains to the ultimate fate of the universe as a whole. Yet it is rather remarkable how little we know about them. The constancy of physical laws is one of the cornerstones of the scientific research method, but for fundamental couplings this is an assumption with no other justification than a historical assumption. There is no 'theory of constants' describing their role in the underlying theories and how they relate to one another or how many of them are truly fundamental.
Studying the behaviour of these quantities throughout the history of the universe is an effective way to probe fundamental physics. This explains why the ESA and ESO include varying fundamental constants among their key science drivers for the next generation of facilities. This symposium discussed the state-of-the-art in the field, as well as the key developments anticipated for the coming years.
Astrophysical Probes of Fundamental Physics.- Atomic transition frequencies, isotope shifts, and sensitivity to variation of the fine structure constant for studies of quasar absorption spectra.- String Theory, Dark Energy and Varying Couplings.- The variation of G in a negatively curved space-time.- Beyond Bekenstein's Theory.- The cooling of white dwarfs and a varying gravitational constant.- Testing the Variation of Fundamental Constants with the CMB.- The value of the fine structure constant over cosmological times.- Current State of mp/me = m Measurements Versus Cosmic Time.- Robust limit on a varying proton-to-electron mass ratio from a single H2 system.- Searching for Chameleon-like Scalar Fields.- In search of the ideal systems to constrain the variation of fundamental constants.- Search for cosmological m variation from high-redshift H2 absorption; a status report.- Cosmological Birefringence: an Astrophysical test of Fundamental Physics.- ESO Future facilities to probe fundamental physical constants.- Starless cores as fundamental physics labs.- Spectrographs, Asteroids & Constants.