– Fine-Structure Constant


– Fine-Structure Constant

In: Physics

Oh man. You picked a hard one. I’ll take a stab and wait for the real physicists to correct me. I don’t think there is an eli5 explanation here and I admit it’s at the outer bounds of my understanding.

This constant shows up all sorts of places with all sorts of physical interpretations, from electrical engineering to particle physics. At its essence is it is trying to describe how the electric field ( or at least the smallest possible electron charge down at the electron level) interacts with all sorts of other things in the universe, and it’s implied that this in an intrinsic universal state anywhere in our universe. It is used as a tool to relate different properties to each other.

Originally this was taken to be the ratio of the velocity of the electron in its lowest orbit to another important physical constant ‘c’ the speed of light in a vacuum. This is important as a tool to tie other things together more than it is important on its own.

Another interpretation is that the fine structure constant is the ratio between the gravitational force and the electrostatic repulsive force of 2 particles with of plank mass (which is their gravitational component) and elementary unit charge (which is their electrostatic force component)

In general it is used in this manner, to relate fundamental electron related behaviors to other fundamental universal forces. Some interpretations compare what you might think are completely unrelated things, with the core theme that many different forces are actually intrinsically related in some underlying way.

I think.

I don’t know if I explained like your five, but I feel about five years old trying to explain it.