Number 137 : One of the greatest mysteries of physics

July 24, 2020 | By | Reply More

Relativity, electromagnetism and quantum mechanics are unified by one number : 137

“One of the greatest damn mysteries of physics: a magic number that comes to us with no understanding by man” said brilliant physicist Richard Feynman

Fine structure constant which is a fundamental constant and denoted by greek letter alpha is which nearly equals 1/137

Alpha is the best example of a pure number (one that doesn’t need units). It combines three of nature’s fundamental constants – the speed of light, the electric charge carried by an electron, and the Planck’s constant. Thus number 137 appears at intersection of 3 key areas of physics.

One use of this mystery number is to measure the interaction of charged particles like electrons with electromagnetic fields. Alpha determines how fast an excited atom can emit a photon.

Looking to math behind fine structure constant more specifically, the way you arrive at alpha is by putting the 3 constants h,c, and e together in the equation

Category: General

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