It’s a number that all physicists have somewhere on their whiteboards (Mysterious Number)
It was a number that was on the radar of almost all the great physicists.(Mysterious Number)
Paul Dirac once called it “the biggest unsolved problem in physics”.
There’s even a joke about it that is told about physicists. They say that if you are a thief and you are trying to unlock a physicist’s briefcase, the first number you have to break into is 137
Indeed it is, it’s a number that all physicists have somewhere on their whiteboards. It also puzzles them all.
From a numerical point of view, the fine structure constant is denoted by “Alpha”, the first letter of the Greek alphabet. It gives a result very, very close to 1/137. It is usually found in all the formulas governing light and matter. Without it, many formulas are incomplete and incomplete.
Eric Cornell of the University of Colorado, also a Nobel Prize-winning physicist, said, “It’s like the golden ratio, like in architecture.” And he continued. “In the physics of low-energy matter like atoms, molecules, chemistry and biology, there is always a ratio. The ratio of big things to small things. And when you look at these ratios, you see that they are all multiples of 1/137 of the Fine structure.”
Isn’t that weird?
Let’s take a look at where this constant comes from and where it is found, and then let’s try to understand from many different angles why this constant and the constants that govern our universe are important.
First of all, you know, we have talked a lot about quantum physics in our videos. The electrons in the atom exist at certain energy levels rather than orbits.
When you think of these energy levels as packets, there are certain, fixed energy levels to which an electron can belong. This is the basic logic of quantum. It can’t be in between, it’s either on one level or the other.
But when you get a little closer and look carefully at these packages, these energy levels, you see that they are also divided into much more delicate levels. It’s like Inception. The cascades within cascades. Energy levels within energy levels.
So far it’s already strange, but what’s even stranger is when we look here.
The interval between the energy levels here is much finer, much more precisely measured. That’s what they call fine structure, delicate or fine structure.
And when we look at these intervals more carefully and measure them, you know what we find?
These intervals are calculated exactly as the square of the number of protons in the nucleus of the atom times the precision structure constant.
No matter where you look, no matter which atom you look at. This is the situation. Fine structure equals protons squared times the fine structure constant.
Not only here. It appears in the strangest places.
I’ll tell you about it.
It’s one of the most damned mysteries in physics. It’s the most magical number in the universe that we know nothing about.
Richard Feynman put it this way. the “fine structure” constant.
We may actually have a key. Some special numbers or constants can unlock the mysteries of the universe, secrets waiting to be solved.
Another great aesthetic about this number is that it doesn’t need any units, as I mentioned at the beginning.
It is a pure number.
And you know what the best thing is?
We’re always trying. We want to unify the forces in the universe, we want to unify that one force. 137 gives us that too. The speed of light, the electric charge carried by an electron and Planck’s constant. So relativity is where electromagnetism and quantum mechanics meet.
It’s like this;
Alpha equals e2, where e is the electron charge, divided by h bar, which is Planck’s constant times 2 pi, times c, the speed of light, as we see in the Heisenberg uncertainty principle.
The result of these. Yes, 1/137.
Actually, to put it precisely; 1/137,03599913.
If you want to understand nature, you must first understand these rules.
Sometimes as humans we feel like we are the masters of nature. The best answer to this is that we can understand as much as nature allows us to.