We consider a toy universe containing conventional matter and an additional real scalar field, and discuss how the requirements of gauge and diffeomorphism invariance essentially single out a particular set of theories which might describe such a world at low energies. In these theories, fermion masses and g-factors, as well as the electromagnetic coupling turn to be scalar field dependent; fermion charges and the gravitational coupling might be assumed to be constant. We then proceed to study the impact of a time variation of the scalar field on measurements of atomic spectra at high redshifts. Light propagation is not affected by a sufficiently slow change of the fine structure constant, but changes of the latter as well as variations of fermion masses and g-factors do affect the observed atomic spectra. Finally, we prove the independence of these predictions on the chosen conformal frame, in a further attempt to address differing views about the subject expressed in the literature.
Armendariz-Picon, Christian, "Predictions and Observations in Theories with Varying Couplings" (2002). Physics. 232.
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