What Is The Fine Structure Constant That Shapes The Universe?

evreni-şekillendiren-ince-yapı-sabiti-nedirWhat is the fine structure constant that shapes the universe? If the fine structure constant that determines the strength of the electromagnetic and strong nuclear forces were slightly different, stars would not form and the universe would be destroyed. The fine structure constant, so to speak, enables matter to be formed at the atomic level. The emergence of atoms and molecules always depends on the value of this universal constant. So who or what fine-tuned this constant? Did the universe come into being on its own, or was there an element in the universe that made the laws of physics favorable to human life and fine-tuned the universe at the time of the big bang? Let’s see it in the context of the anthropic principle. Let’s find out what the physical, universal, and fundamental constants are.

What is the fine structure constant?

The famous Austrian physicist Wolfgang, who introduced the Pauli exclusion principle in quantum mechanics, which explains the electron orbits and the origin of matter Pauli once said: “When I die, my first question to Satan will be: “What does the fineness constant mean?” Richard Feyman, the famous American physicist and science lecturer who developed quantum electrodynamics (QED), which is the quantum mechanics of electrons, also called the fine structure constant “a magical number we don’t know what it is”. We denote this constant with the first letter of the Greek alphabet “alpha” (α). The constant α is a dimensionless number in mathematics. Whatever unit of measurement you use (meters or feet), the value of α is always the same: Approximately 1/137.

So α is a ratio derived from other equations that show the workings of the universe. According to research, if the value of the fine structure constant changed by only 4 percent, we would not exist in this world; because stars would not be able to synthesize the elements carbon and oxygen. However, they are the foundation of life. We said that the fine structure constant determines the matter at the atomic scale, but who or what fine-tuned this constant? After all, this setting is important for the existence of life. For example, you can use the anthropic principle to explain the 26 constants that determine the universe together with the fine structure constant:

Accordingly, the universe is suitable for human life; because if it wasn’t convenient, we humans wouldn’t be here, but it’s kind of like a vicious circle isn’t it? Of course, god or gods created the universe, you can say the universe is a simulation created by aliens or computers. Proposing the theory of the multiverse, you can say that the universe came into being by itself, and the value of the fine structure constant depends on random quantum oscillations. I have explained these separately, but in the article in your hand, I will say new things in the context of the fine structure constant and especially about the design of the multiverse.

First of all,

Universal constants do not come from the laws of physics that explain the universe. We measure their value in nature (we don’t know why) and manually add them, for example, to Einstein’s general theory of relativity, which describes gravity as the “weak energy condition”. Thus, the general theory of relativity explains our universe. As a matter of fact, if you changed the value of the universal gravitational constant in theory, general relativity would still work. Whereas this time it would describe another universe where gravity is stronger or weaker. So in order to understand how the universe came into being with the big bang, we need to know why these 26 constants are the way they are. Though today we’re only going to focus on the fine-tuning constant:

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How to calculate the fine structure constant?

You see the equation we used to calculate the α constant: We used to think that the value of α was exactly 1/137, but as experimental device technology has improved, it has become more precise. we measured. So we got the value in the picture. So much so that the fine structure constant is one of the most well-known universal constants today. Only “constants that are so by definition”, such as the speed of light at 299,792,458 km per second, are known more precisely than the fine structure constant; because that’s exactly what they’re worth. There is nothing to measure more precisely.

In any case, we measure the fine structure constant with 0.23 parts per billion. Since it is a dimensionless number, there are no units of measurement attached to it. Dimensionless units are interesting because they are independent of arbitrary units such as kilometers and miles.In summary, the fine structure constant is a ratio like the number Pi. For example, in the modern world we use the decimal number scheme. This is because we have a total of ten fingers on our hands and feet. Whereas, we use binary number order, that is, 1 and 0’s in software. The reason for this is that the first transistors included an “on and off” electrical circuit.

In short,

Which number scheme we will use determines the limbs, tools and the function of our tools. Incidentally, how many universal constants determine the universe also depends on which theory you use to explain the universe. Generally speaking, we say that there are 26 fundamental constants in the universe. However, you can derive them from the 4 most basic constants. These are constants that cannot be reduced to the basics: the speed of light c, Planck’s constant h, the universal gravitational constant G, and the cosmological constant lambda (Λ), which determines the energy of empty space and the rate of expansion of the universe, and even the shape of space.

By the way, for now I made functional definitions for you. I’ll get into terms like fundamental constant, physical constant soon. All these numbers and notations are fine, but why is the fine structure constant 1/137? Why not 1/1,768 for example? Here’s a little bit of technique to understand it:

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What is a physical constant?

We sometimes use the terms fundamental constant, fundamental physical constant, or universal constant interchangeably, but the correct term is “physical constant.” We assume that this, too, is a physical quantity, universal in nature, and that its value does not change over time (here it is: constant). Simply put, we use the Hubble constant to measure the expansion rate of the universe, but since it changes over time, it’s not actually a constant, it’s a Hubble parameter. Physical constants are different from mathematical constants; because mathematical constants are constant numbers. Physical constants are ratios derived from fundamental constants in nature, such as the speed of light.

Physicists even think that when we understand how the universe came into being, we will understand why the speed of light and the universal gravitational constant are the way they are in this universe. So much so that if the speed of light were different, the value of the fine structure constant would also be different. In this sense, we can say that the speed of light is the most fundamental constant. On the other hand, if we develop the theory of everything, we can understand why the speed of light is exactly 299,792,458 km per second in this universe. In fact, according to the multiverse design, there is more than one universe in the universe and the speed of light may be different in some of them. Still, whatever the speed of light is, nothing with mass can travel faster than light.

In short, even if there are other universes where the speed of light is different, you cannot go faster than light in those universes. What can we call that? Perhaps we could say that the speed of light is a hyper-universal constant. However, let’s not confuse physical constants with other constants or equations we don’t know, with dimensionless constants such as the fine structure constant. For example, when we say that the speed of light is constant in every universe, but its value can vary between universes, we mean that the speed of light is a dimensional physical constant.

Fine structure constant

Only It is a mathematical ratio and therefore falls within the scope of the “dimensionalless universal constant”. Therefore, one should not confuse dimensionless physical constants (eg Reynolds number) with universal dimensionless physical constants (eg fine structure constant). In physics, we call dimensionless physical fundamental constants that cannot be derived either proportionally or differentially from any other source, “fundamental physical constant”. However, we call dimensional constants such as the universal gravitational constant, Planck’s constant and the speed of light the fundamental physical constant, although we do not know where they came from. Who knows? Perhaps, when we develop the theory of everything that explains the entire universe, we will see that all kinds of dimensional and dimensionless constants derive from a single source. Anyway… I taught you the correct terminology. You can discuss the rest with your physics professors at the university. Let’s get to the root of the fine structure constant:

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Fine structure constant and electron

If we write the fine structure constant α in different ways, it shows the ratio of the two energies to each other. we’ll see.This is actually very simple. It is the ratio of the speed of electrons orbiting a given classical atom to the speed of light. In the classical model of the atom, this ratio is ~1/137.

When I say the classical atomic model, I do not mean the atomic model in classical physics, but Bohr’s first quantum atomic model. In this model, Niels Bohr thought of electrons as negative charges orbiting a positive nucleus. However, it was soon realized that this model was wrong. This is where the dimensionless universal physical constant called the fine structure constant came out! Come on then, a brief history of science: We think about atoms a little differently today than Bohr did. As we solved quantum mechanics more deeply with the Schrödinger equation, we realized that electrons are both particles and probability waves.

Electrons are not individual particles orbiting the atom in specific orbits. These are probability clouds orbiting orbitals around the atom. Moreover, the nucleus is also a partially fuzzy cloud of proton and neutron probability. Therefore, the shape of high-energy atoms changes as in the picture. Look at the fundamental and driven energy levels of the hydrogen atom! It takes a thousand witnesses to say that these are the same atom. So how does the fine structure constant come into play here and what does it do in quantum mechanics?

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Fine structure constant and charged particles

{ 4}This number directly depends on the strength of the electromagnetic force, which, for example, determines the intensity of interactions between two electrons. It also determines how strongly the positively charged protons in the atomic nucleus will pull the negatively charged electrons towards themselves. Careful readers will see that this is similar to the famous Coulomb’s constant from the famous Coulomb’s law. As a matter of fact, this constant shows how strong the force is between two charged particles, such as electrons, at a distance of r radius from each other.

So that if you write the dimensional Coulomb constant (k), which is the electric charge constant, as dimensionless, the fine structure constant (α) ) you get. Now you understand, don’t you? If the fine structure constant were different by 4 percent, it would be impossible for stars to synthesize heavier atoms such as carbon and oxygen by fusing helium atoms through nuclear fusion and under high heat and pressure. Ultimately, the electromagnetic force is related to chemistry and biochemistry, that is, it determines the chemistry of life. If α were different, life would not exist in the universe.

Let’s also point out that electrons repel each other by exchanging virtual photons, and protons and electrons attract each other by exchanging virtual photons. As a matter of fact, when an electron in the atomic orbit absorbs (absorbs) a photon and goes to the upper orbit, it loses energy by emitting a photon of the same wavelength and touches its former orbit. On the other hand, photon emission is random due to the uncertainty principle. So the stronger the fine structure constant k, the higher the probability that the electron will absorb and emit photons; that is, the electron will do this more often with less energy (less photon). So we started to see the role of the fine structure constant in quantum mechanics:

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Fine structure constant and atoms

The famous German theoretical physicist Arnold Sommerfeld introduced this constant in 1916. Bohr said in 1912 that the orbital distance of electrons orbiting around the atomic nuclei depends on the energy they have. You can see this with common sense in classical physics. The higher the angular momentum, that is, the orbital velocity of the electron, the higher the centrifugal force ejection velocity. This allows the electron to spin further away. On the other hand, in classical physics, electrons lose energy very quickly. Therefore, it rapidly falls into the nucleus and combines with protons to form neutrons.

In classical physics, even a neutron star can form from a chair, so to speak! The way to avoid this in quantum physics is Bohr orbits. The details don’t matter, but if the electrons revolve around the nucleus only in certain orbits at a certain distance, you avoid neutron collapse.Therefore, as the electron cloud, they were not orbiting in certain orbits, but in orbital probability intervals, that is, in orbitals, as in the picture. The distance and amplitude of these orbitals were determined by the fine structure constant.

As a result, in the original Bohr atomic model of 1913, the energy of atomic electrons depended only on the quantum number written with “n”. However, this could not explain the frequency of light emitted by atoms at certain energies. Sommerfeld not only showed that orbitals are actually orbital. Electron energy in the orbital gaps was also bisected, forming two sub-orbitals spaced apart like the rings of Saturn in each orbital. To the curious, this discovery would soon evolve into Wolfgang Pauli’s Pauli exclusion principle, which we can simplify to two electrons with opposite spins can spin in one orbit.

But it’s not just that{6 }

Bohr’s model (as Paul Dirac would do in the future) required taking into account the effect of Einstein’s special theory of relativity on electron mass and velocities (again, from which, for the curious, quantum electrodynamics was born). As a result, Sommerfeld was able to correctly explain the light emitted by energetic atoms by adding the fine structure constant to the Bohr model. You can see the factor that Sommerfeld added to the Bohr equation just to the right of the plus sign in the equation. This term is of course the fine structure constant. So how do we measure this constant?

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Measuring the fine structure constant

α We can measure the α value in cyclotron particle accelerators at Fermilab facilities. For this, we accelerate the electrons in the magnetic field and measure their magnetic moments. For this, let’s know that electrons are actually small bar magnets (not exactly, but I said so for clarity). Electrons have a north and south pole. Thus, it generates its own magnetic field. We call the strength of the magnetic field and its orientation relative to the electron magnetic moment (magnetic momentum, of course).

Do you remember? I told you that the magnetic moment of muons, which we can call heavy electrons, is measured differently than predicted in the quantum standard model of particles, and that I also said that it could be a harbinger of new physics… Those measurements turned out to be wrong and the standard model survived again as if it was a great ingenuity, but this is the origin of that story I told. 😉 In any case, we calculate α as 1/137 with magnetic moment. This small number is also very important; because it shows that the electromagnetic force is weaker than the strong nuclear force that holds atomic nuclei together.

This allows electrons to spin quite far from the nucleus. Thus, heavy elements and complex chemistry are formed from helium. The universe would not consist of a shapeless molecular and inert hydrogen and gas cloud. Now let’s look at the Bohr radius in the picture again. This is the radius of the lowest energy hydrogen atom. No problem; because there is only one electron in a hydrogen atom. So r is the lowest orbital of the electron and is equal to its distance from the hydrogen atomic nucleus. Let’s dig into this equation a little bit:

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Fine structure constant and orbitals

The reduced Planck constant h with stripes in the equation, me electron mass, c light speed, and α da is the fine structure constant. Notice that the radius of the atom is inversely proportional to α. The lower the fine structure constant, the larger the atoms. Indeed, if the hydrogen nucleus were the size of a golf ball, the electron orbital would be 2.5 km away from the nucleus! 😮 99% of atoms are empty. This is a much larger space than if the human body is made up of 60-70 percent water. Large atoms are good.

This way, electron exchange between atoms is easy. Atoms easily react chemically and can form complex organic molecules such as DNA, which are the basis of life. Now, let’s come to the issue of “fine tuning” of the fine structure constant… Who or what tuned the universe?


In 1957, the big bang I have the first edition of the book he wrote in 1950; Many astronomers have studied the stars:

So they found that the fine structure constant must be exactly at the measured value for there to be enough oxygen (breathing) and carbon (meat, soft tissues) in the universe.No stellar nuclei could fuse because their strong electron shells repulsed each other.

So why so?

According to string theorists, the value of fine structure and other constants is determined by the number and shape of the 7 hidden additional space dimensions in space. However, string theory is not a theory that can be proven and has not been proven so far (there are a lot of string theories anyway). Still others say that the fine structure constant is determined by random quantum oscillations that took place during the big bang. However, this leads to the infinity problems I described earlier. I also wrote about god and universe simulation in physics. It should be noted, however, that the models of the multiverse, which say that there is more than one and perhaps an infinite number of universes in the universe, are derived from quantum oscillations:

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Fine structure constant and the multiverse

First of all, those who believe in the anthropic principle I’m not one. I have explained the reasons a lot, but in summary, if the universe was not suitable for human life, humans would not exist, but this does not mean that the universe was created for humans. On the other hand, there are Feynman’s words: The fine structure constant is “one of the most troublesome mysteries of physics. You can say that the hand of God wrote that number, but we don’t know how he used his pen.” Feynman said that he was an atheist when he was younger. So you have to understand that he is joking. However, we can attribute this to the multiverse; because I said that the fine structure constant is a dimensionless proportional fundamental constant.

So that the value of α depends on the value of the other fundamental constants. However, the most basic constants such as the speed of light are dimensional, and the number and shape of space dimensions change according to the temperature of the universe. This is easy to understand if you think of dimensions as directions in which particles can move in spacetime. In short, when the universe was small, it was very small, therefore very dense, and therefore very hot. The vacuum of space today is cold as the universe has been expanding ever since the big bang. However, at the time of the big bang, the temperature of the universe was at least 1 quadrillion kelvin. At that time, the value of α was 1/127.

So the laws of physics change at very high temperature and pressure. In this case, there is no need to think that the fine structure constant was handwritten by God when the universe was being formed. This could have been easily determined by the coincidental initial conditions of the universe. In fact, the cosmic inflation theory we developed to explain the big bang without a singularity also provides the mechanism for the universe to form on its own. Cosmic inflation has been proven. I won’t go into details, but cosmic inflation predicts an infinite number of observable universes and an infinite number of foam megauniverses containing them.

Our universe is also

one of the observable universes in one of these megauniverses. Many universes are not suitable for life. In fact, since you cannot live naked in space and at the poles, neither the universe nor most of the Earth is suitable for human life! Yet it is unavoidable and normal for some to be fit for life by chance (due to Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle in quantum mechanics) in an infinite or many universes. The real problem is to get around the infinite number of universes problems. How do we overcome this?

How do black holes bend space?

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Afterword for the fine structure constant

Let’s put the problem first: The universe is finitely complex. The multiverse and god are infinitely complex. Explaining a finite thing with an infinite thing is contrary to the Ockham’s razor principle in philosophy and is illogical. On the other hand, in the multiverse, both the observable universes in the megauniverses and the individual megauniverses are disconnected from each other. As a result, they were formed disjointedly and randomly with the phase transition inside the inflaton field that created the cosmic inflation. When we say phase transition, the physical laws of the universes are independent of the environment that created them.We can delete them as if simplifying 1/0 expressions in equations. This gives us the following opportunity: It is only theoretically possible to explain scientifically how the universe we live in consists of quantum oscillations. I think it is possible in practice. If we are explaining many things scientifically and there is no evidence to the contrary, why can’t we explain how the universe came into existence in the distant or near future?

Since the fine structure constant is derived from other constants, and even the speed of light is a dimensional constant, that is, it is unique to the universe. There is no need to think that someone wrote it by hand. I have given so many references in this article that I will end here without adding anything else. See you in the next article, stay with science and health. 😊

9 ways to travel through time

1Cosmological Constant, Fine Structure Constant and Beyond{9 } 2Fine-Structure Constant Connects the Polarizability of Atoms and Vacuum
3Search for a Variation of the Fine Structure around the Supermassive Black Hole in Our Galactic Center
4 Improved access to the fine-structure constant with the simplest atomic systems


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