The Constants Of Nature (Physics)

1/137.03599913 … commonly described as 137 on t-shirts and blackboards. And labeled “alpha”.

It’s a constant of nature, the fine-structure constant, and has no units. It’s a pure number in nature. It combines the electric charge carried by one electron, Plank’s constant, and the speed of light. If it were any different, we wouldn’t be here.

Some physicists are obsessed with alpha. Why does it have this value? No one has a clue.

Which is just a small version of “why is the universe is the way it is?”. Why the electron mass? Why the speed of light? Why quarks and photons and just why is everything the way it is? Change one small constant and we’re not here.

The easy answer has always been if it were any other way we wouldn’t be here. But that explains nothing and is just ridiculous. A better question is could there be constants of nature that lead to more and better intelligence? Is it possible to have a universe where conscious beings discover all the secrets of the universe? And can we imagine what the parameters for such a universe might be?

The universe seems to be tuned to produce conscious beings. But is this the only possible universe that could produce “us”?

The really depressing part, and what makes me so mad is that I and every other person in the universe will die and never know the secret. That makes life seem very boring.

Author: stephen d mccloud


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