Fine Structure Constant Quotes

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Fine Structure Constant Quotes

Since only a narrow range of the allowed values for, say, the fine structure constant will permit observers to exist in the Universe, we must find ourselves in the narrow range of possibilities which permit them, no matter how improbable they are. We must ask for the conditional probability of observing constants to take particular ranges, given that other features of the Universe, like its age, satisfy necessary conditions for life.
— John D. Barrow —

The strength of the electromagnetic interaction, for example, is fixed by a number called the "fine-structure constant," a famous quantity in physics that is numerically close to 1/137.

— Sean Carroll

If the deep logic of what determines the value of the fine-structure constant also played a significant role in our understanding of all the physical processes in which the fine-structure constant enters, then we would be stymied. Fortunately, we do not need to know everything before we can know something.

— John D. Barrow

Since only a narrow range of the allowed values for, say, the fine structure constant will permit observers to exist in the Universe, we must find ourselves in the narrow range of possibilities which permit them, no matter how improbable they are. We must ask for the conditional probability of observing constants to take particular ranges, given that other features of the Universe, like its age, satisfy necessary conditions for life.

— John D. Barrow

As Sommerfeld said in his famous text "Spectral Lines and Atomic Constitution," on which a generation of physicists learned the subject, "In the fine structure constant e is the representative of the electron theory, h the appropriate representative of the quantum theory, c comes from relativity and characterizes it in contrast to classical theory.

— Emilio Segrè

But some numbers, called dimensionless numbers, have the same numerical value no matter what units of measurement are chosen. Probably the most famous of these is the "fine-structure constant," ... Physicists love this number not just because it is dimensionless, but also because it is a combination of three fundamental constants of nature.

— John Archibald Wheeler

Today alpha equals 1/137.0359 or so. Regardless, its value makes the periodic table possible. It allows atoms to exist and also allows them to react with sufficient vigor to form compounds, since electrons neither roam too freely from their nuclei nor cling too closely. This just-right balance has led many scientists to conclude that the universe couldn't have hit upon its fine structure constant by accident.

— Sam Kean

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