Tap to unmute

Why Is 1/137 One of the Greatest Unsolved Problems In Physics?

Share
Embed
  • Published on Sep 27, 2022 veröffentlicht
  • Thank you to Squarespace for supporting PBS. Go to ​ www.squarespace.com/pbs for a free trial, and when you are ready to launch, go to Squarespace.com/PBS to save 10% off your first purchase of a website or domain.
    PBS Member Stations rely on viewers like you. To support your local station, go to: to.pbs.org/DonateSPACE
    Sign Up on Patreon to get access to the Space Time Discord!
    www.patreon.com/pbsspacetime
    The Fine Structure Constant is one the strangest numbers in all of physics. It’s the job of physicists to worry about numbers, but there’s one number that physicists have stressed about more than any other. That number is 0.00729735256 - approximately 1/137. This is the fine structure constant, and it appears everywhere in our equations of quantum physics, and we’re still trying to figure out why.
    Check out the Space Time Merch Store
    www.pbsspacetime.com/shop
    Sign up for the mailing list to get episode notifications and hear special announcements!
    mailchi.mp/1a6eb8f2717d/space...
    Search the Entire Space Time Library Here: search.pbsspacetime.com/
    Hosted by Matt O'Dowd
    Written by Fernando Franco Félix & Matt O'Dowd
    Post Production by Leonardo Scholzer, Yago Ballarini, Pedro Osinski, Caique Oliveira, Adriano Leal & Stephanie Faria
    GFX Visualizations: Ajay Manuel
    Directed by Andrew Kornhaber
    Associate Producer: Bahar Gholipour
    Executive Producers: Eric Brown & Andrew Kornhaber
    Executive in Charge for PBS: Maribel Lopez
    Director of Programming for PBS: Gabrielle Ewing
    Assistant Director of Programming for PBS: John Campbell
    Spacetime is produced by Kornhaber Brown for PBS Digital Studios.
    This program is produced by Kornhaber Brown, which is solely responsible for its content.
    © 2022 PBS. All rights reserved.
    End Credits Music by J.R.S. Schattenberg: clip-share.net/user/MultiDro...
    Special Thanks to Our Patreon Supporters
    Big Bang Supporters
    Scott Gilgallon
    Ryan Salsamendi
    Steffen Bendel
    Gautam Shine
    NullBlox.ZachryWilsn
    Adam Hillier
    Bryce Fort
    Peter Barrett
    David Neumann
    Charlie
    Leo Koguan
    Alexander Tamas
    Morgan Hough
    Amy Hickman
    Juan Benet
    Vinnie Falco
    Fabrice Eap
    Mark Rosenthal
    David Nicklas
    Quasar Supporters
    Vivaan Vaka
    Glenn Sugden
    Sujasha Gupta Vaka
    Vikram Vaka
    Alex Kern
    Ethan Cohen
    Stephen Wilcox
    Christina Oegren
    Mike Conroy
    Mark Heising
    Hank S
    Hypernova Supporters
    Floki
    Ryan Moser
    Ivari Tölp
    Vyce Ailour
    Brandon Paddock
    Oneamazinguy
    Ken S
    Gregory Forfa
    Kirk Honour
    Mark Evans
    drollere
    Joe Moreira
    Marc Armstrong
    Scott Gorlick
    Paul Stehr-Green
    Russell Pope
    Ben Delo
    Scott Gray
    Антон Кочков
    John R. Slavik
    Mathew
    Donal Botkin
    John Pollock
    Edmund Fokschaner
    Joseph Salomone
    chuck zegar
    Jordan Young
    John Hofmann
    Daniel Muzquiz
    Gamma Ray Burst Supporters
    Nikhil Sharma
    Alexander Gruber
    Jonathan Cordovano
    John Anderson
    Scott Hannum
    Paul Widden
    Bradley Ulis
    Craig Falls
    Kane Holbrook
    John Yaraee
    Ross Story
    teng guo
    Mason Dillon
    Harsh Khandhadia
    Thomas Tarler
    bsgbryan
    Sean McCaul
    Carsten Quinlan
    Susan Albee
    Frank Walker
    Matt Q
    MHL SHS
    Terje Vold
    James Trimmier
    Anatoliy Nagornyy
    comboy
    Andre Stechert
    Paul Wood
    Kent Durham
    jim bartosh
    Nubble
    Ramon Nogueira
    The Mad Mechanic
    Ellis Hall
    John H. Austin, Jr.
    Diana S
    Faraz Khan
    Almog Cohen
    Alex Edwards
    Ádám Kettinger
    MD3
    Endre Pech
    Daniel Jennings
    Cameron Sampson
    Geoffrey Clarion
    Russ Creech
    Jeremy Reed
    Eric Webster
    David Johnston
    Web Browser
    Michael Barton
    Mr T
    Andrew Mann
    Isaac Suttell
    Devon Rosenthal
    Oliver Flanagan
    Bleys Goodson
    Robert Walter
    Bruce B
    Mirik Gogri
    Mark Delagasse
    Mark Daniel Cohen
    Nickolas Andrew Freeman
    Shane Calimlim
    Tybie Fitzhugh
    Robert Ilardi
    Eric Kiebler
    Craig Stonaha
    Graydon Goss
    Frederic Simon
    Tonyface
    John Robinson
    A G
    David Neal
    justahat
    John Funai
    Tristan
    Bradley Jenkins
    Kyle Hofer
    Daniel Stříbrný
    Luaan
    Cody
    Thomas Dougherty
    King Zeckendorff
    Dan Warren
    Patrick Sutton
    John Griffith
    Daniel Lyons
    DFaulk
    Kevin Warne

Comments • 7 136

  • Enes Miraç Kaya

    Some alien civilization wanted to make a fully simulated space game. One programmer set a constant as 1/137 during development, then left the dev team. After a while some other programmer went over the code and couldn't figure out what the constant was for. He commented the code saying "I don't know what it does or why it has that value. When deleted the whole universe breaks down so don't touch it."

  • Emergent Form
    Emergent Form 4 hours ago +2

    Whoa trippy. Love this channel and how it keeps telling me wild things I've never heard before, despite being relatively well versed in physics for a layperson.

  • Ender Wiggins
    Ender Wiggins 7 hours ago +3

    You don’t mention that using QFT you can show that the anomalous magnetic moment g-2 is alpha / pi to first order (which blows my mind)

  • felixu95
    felixu95  +438

    Excellent video, but I think the number most universally stressed out over by physicists is the rent.

  • sean h
    sean h 4 hours ago +18

    i can attest: it's amazing how i always understand almost exactly 1/137th of every PBS spacetime video i watch

  • Eric Swells
    Eric Swells 4 hours ago

    Is this a perfect example of seeing things you want to see?

  • Michael Niles

    Little known fact: our universe was a typo, the 4D experimentalists had originally meant to type "1337" for the seed phrase

  • Mitchell Sayers
    Mitchell Sayers 4 hours ago +1

    I thought I found a video that had the answers to life. Instead I found a video about quantum physics that’s way over my head.

  • Mr. Unacceptable Shadowbanned By Google

    If 1/137 is a marker of our universe what would a 1/138 or a 136 look like? is there any way to tell? Is the number a way of classifying universes? As in only 1/137 has carbon based life? 1/158 has silicon life? Is there a way of telling if other ratio universe could sustain life or not just from the ratio. Like when a wave form joins another and doubles. Or other trait.

  • Onlythetruth Willsetyoufree

    I like the number 137.035999 better. Much more esthetically pleasing!

  • KirksNeckChop

    Putting the fine structure constant in a communication seems like a good way to make aliens think the message is just a natural fluke.. after all, it turns up everywhere and in strange places.

  • ckl
    ckl 16 hours ago

    And I thought 42 was the answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe, and everything.

  • Lewis
    Lewis  +800

    These videos manage to blow my mind even though I only understand about 1/137 of the physics.

  • kee
    kee 9 hours ago

    What if there is intelligent life on the electron level or other places where 137 comes up trying to communicate to alien life somewhere else that they are intelligent by 'sending out' 137. Question is: Who started using 137 and why?

  • Just Saying
    Just Saying 9 hours ago +17

    Watching this video made me feel like I learned something without actually having to have learned anything. Well done.

  • Genari Perez
    Genari Perez 4 hours ago

    I got a question.

  • Mr. Oblivious
    Mr. Oblivious 4 hours ago

    So 137 only works in base 10?

  • Brian Batie
    Brian Batie 7 hours ago +1

    Question, has it been determined with certainty that the coupling constant has indeed "bottomed out", and is not still dropping, but in increments so small that we lack the ability to measure them?

  • Great American Eclipse

    Outstanding and stimulating video! When I studied physics at UC Berkeley, my quantum mechanics classes were Physics 137A and 137B, not a coincidence

  • Atoms of stardust
    Atoms of stardust Day ago +20

    Why am I hearing about this number for the very first time in my life after years of watching various popular science videos like that? Odd it’s not talked about more.