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43
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5answers
6k views

Dimensionless Constants in Physics

Forgive me if this topic is too much in the realm of philosophy. John Baez has an interesting perspective on the relative importance of dimensionless constants, which he calls fundamental like alpha, ...
37
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3answers
6k views

Is the Planck length the smallest length that exists in the universe or is it the smallest length that can be observed?

I have heard both that Planck length is the smallest length that there is in the universe (whatever this means) and that it is the smallest thing that can be observed because if we wanted to observe ...
19
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10answers
13k views

Why and how is the speed of light in vacuum constant, i.e., independent of reference frame?

I was told that the Galilean relative velocity rule does not apply to the speed of light. No matter how fast two objects are moving, the speed of light will remain same for both of them. How and why ...
17
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5answers
4k views

How to get Planck length

I know that what Planck length equals to. The first question is, how do you get the formula $$\ell_P~=~\sqrt\frac{\hbar G}{c^3}$$ that describes the Planck length? The second question is, will any ...
16
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4answers
3k views

What is so special about speed of light in vacuum?

I will try to be as explanatory as possible with my question. Please also note that I have done my share of googling and I am looking for simple language preferable with some example so that I can get ...
16
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5answers
3k views

How can the speed of light be a dimensionless constant?

This is a quote from the book A first course in general relativity by Schutz: What we shall now do is adopt a new unit for time, the meter. One meter of time is the time it takes light to travel ...
15
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7answers
899 views

Is there a limit to acceleration? [duplicate]

As we all know the speed of light is the limit at which energy/matter can travel through our universe. My question being: is there a similar limit for acceleration? Is there a limit to how quickly ...
14
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4answers
716 views

Why isn't it $E \approx 27.642 \times mc^2$?

Sorry for the strange question, but why is it that many of the most important physical equations don't have ugly numbers (i.e., "arbitrary" irrational factors) to line up both sides? Why can so many ...
14
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6answers
3k views

Why does the speed of light $c$ have the value it does?

Why does light have the speed it does? why is it not considerably faster or slower than it is? I can't imagine science, being what it is, not pursuing a rational scientific explanation for the speed ...
14
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4answers
2k views

Is the Avogadro's constant equal to one?

Question: Is the Avogadro's constant equal to one? I was tasked with creating a presentation on Avogadro's work, and this is the first time I actually got introduced to the ...
13
votes
5answers
4k views

Is speed of light and sound rational or irrational in nature?

Just as circumference of circle will remain $\pi$ for unit diameter, no matter what standard unit we take, are the speeds of light and sound irrational or rational in nature ? I'm talking about ...
12
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4answers
1k views

What's keeping us from simply redefining Avogadro's Number / the Mole as a definite integer?

This might be a question to ask in a Chemistry site, but because there is a lot of talk about redefining many units of measurements in terms of Avogadro's Number / the Mole, I was wondering why we ...
12
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7answers
2k views

What is the proof that the universal constants ($G$, $\hbar$, $\ldots$) are really constant in time and space?

Cavendish measured the gravitation constant $G$, but actually he measured that constant on the Earth. What’s the proof that the value of the gravitation constant if measured on Neptune would remain ...
11
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4answers
498 views

Is the Fine Stucture constant constant?

I have read that the fine structure constant may well not be a constant. Now, if this were to be true, what would be the effect of a higher or lower value? (and why?)
11
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1answer
564 views

Is the fine-structure constant a parameter of the standard model?

According to the wikipedia entry on the fine-structure constant: In fact, α is one of the about 20 empirical parameters in the Standard Model of particle physics, whose value is not determined ...
10
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1answer
1k views

Gravitational constant in higher dimensions?

From Newton's law of gravitation we know that $$F=G\frac{m_1m_2}{r^2}$$ where $G$ is gravitational constant. We can also see that it has dimensions $$[G]=\frac{[L]^3}{[M][T]^2}$$ and we have a ...
9
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3answers
3k views

Have I discovered how to calculate the proton's mass using only integers?

Could it be possible that the mass of the proton can be calculated by a series of integer sequences? Or is this just a curiosity? $$\sum_{m=1}^{\infty } \frac{1}{10^{26}(m^2+1)_{2m}}=$$ ...
9
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1answer
472 views

Gravitational Constant in Newtonian Gravity vs. General Relativity

From my understanding, the gravitational constant $G$ is a proportionality constant used by Newton in his law of universal gravitation (which was based around Kepler's Laws), namely in the equation $F ...
9
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3answers
1k views

Why do universal constants have the values they do?

This is meant to be a generic question of the type that we get repeatedly on this site, in different versions: The origin of the value of speed of light The gravitational constant G theoretically? ...
9
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3answers
215 views

Is it possible to speak about changes in a physical constant which is not dimensionless?

Every so often, one sees on this site* or in the news† or in journal articles‡ a statement of the form "we have measured a change in such-and-such fundamental constant" (or, perhaps more commonly, "we ...
8
votes
16answers
2k views

The origin of the value of speed of light

Meaning, why is it the exact number that it is? Why not 2x10^8 m/s instead of 3? Does it have something to do with the mass, size or behavior of a photon? To be clear, I'm not asking "how we ...
8
votes
2answers
3k views

Has the speed of light changed over time?

Could someone judge my (stoner) hypothesis that the speed of light has changed over time -- ie. as the universe has expanded in volume light has slowed down, perhaps going so far as back to the big ...
8
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2answers
465 views

What constant varies in the fine structure constant?

Using the renormalization group approach, coupling constants are "running". If we apply this to the fine structure (coupling) constant, we do know that, e.g., at energies around the Z mass, $$\alpha ...
7
votes
4answers
413 views

Cases of any known fundamental physical constants changing within our locality?

Has there been any cases where the only explanation has been that at least one of the physical constants must have changed to explain an experiment/event/obervation? I am not intrested in large scale ...
7
votes
3answers
347 views

why there is no accuracy of the measured value of $G$?

With the advancement of Modern Technology still there is no accuracy of the measured value of $G$ Gravitational Constant, why!?
7
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3answers
318 views

Why is Planck's constant the same for all particles?

This question came to me while reading Where does de Broglie wavelength $\lambda=h/p$ for massive particles come from? This question has a nice answer that explains that wave number has be ...
7
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0answers
197 views

Why is the Planck length the shortest measurable length? [duplicate]

I quote from the Wikipedia article on Planck length: According to the generalized uncertainty principle, the Planck length is in principle, within a factor of order unity, the shortest ...
6
votes
1answer
757 views

Why can you remove the gravitational constant from a computer game simulation?

I've seen in a few gravity simulation games (ie. bouncing balls) the equation: force = G * m1 * m2 / distance^2 shortened to this by removing the gravitational ...
6
votes
3answers
169 views

Can someone explain Planck's constant simply? [closed]

Can someone explain Planck's constant simply? I know the math, however I don't understand the relevance. To explain what I'm asking, what is the significance of it when doing quantum mechanical ...
6
votes
3answers
320 views

Is there a simple way to compute some physical constant from Feynman diagram statistics?

I've been playing around writing some software to generate Feynman diagrams for QED, respecting the vertex "rules" described here, and avoiding creating isomorphic duplicates. So from a starter ...
6
votes
1answer
130 views

Is $4 \pi G$ the true most fundamental gravitational constant? [closed]

Newton's law of gravitation is: $$F = G m_1 m_2 \frac{1}{r^2}$$ It looks simple and natural. But that's only in 3 dimensions. Let's look what happens in $n$ dimensions: $$n=2 : F = 2 G m_1 m_2 ...
6
votes
1answer
428 views

Is there an explanation for the 3:2:1 ratio between the electron, up and down quark electric charges?

I understand that the NNG formula relates $Q$, $I_3$, and $Y$ and can be derived in QCD; does this unambiguously predict the electric charge ratios without making assumptions about the definitions of ...
5
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6answers
6k views

Do we take gravity = 9.8 m/s² for all heights when solving problems? Why or why not?

Do we take gravity = 9.8 m/s² for all heights when solving problems?
5
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5answers
398 views

The gravitational constant $G$ theoretically?

We know all that the gravitational constant is $$G=6.67428±0.00067\times 10^{-11}m^{3} kg^{-1} s^{-2}.$$ But can we calculate it theoretically?
5
votes
4answers
1k views

Can Planck's constant be derived from Maxwell's equations?

Can mathematics (including statistics, dynamical systems,...) combined with classical electromagnetism (using only the constants appearing in chargefree Maxwell equations) be used to derive the Planck ...
5
votes
2answers
700 views

How can I explain the scientific basis of the constant speed of light to a $c$-decay proponent?

This Phys.SE question asks why and how the speed of light is constant. I would like to ask a related, almost converse question: Given that the speed of light is constant, how could I explain to a ...
5
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1answer
384 views

Deriving or justifying fundamental constants

Is there a fundamental way to look at the universal constants ? can their orders of magnitude be explained from a general points of view like stability, causality, information theory, uncertainty? ...
5
votes
2answers
422 views

Is the fine structure constant actually a constant or does its value depend on the energy scale?

The value of the fine structure constant is given as $$ \alpha = \frac{e^2}{4\pi\varepsilon_0\hbar c} = \frac{1}{137.035\,999..} $$ It's value is only dependent on physical constants (the elementary ...
5
votes
1answer
312 views

Definition of Fine-Tuning

I've looked in and out the forum, and found no precise definition of the meaning of fine-tuning in physics. QUESTION Is it possible to give a precise definition of fine-tuning? Of course, I guess ...
5
votes
1answer
380 views

Variable speed of light in cosmology

In this paper, D. H. Coule argues that warp drive metrics, like the one proposed by Alcubierre, require the exotic matter to be laid beforehand on the travel path by conventional travel. At section 5 ...
4
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3answers
588 views

Why didn't we replace our SI units with a better system? [closed]

Intro It seems to me that the SI units we use today are nothing but the result of a historical 'coincidence'. I recently began researching about natural (absolute) systems of units, which are ...
4
votes
3answers
387 views

What is the opposite of the Planck length?

What "large size" unit of length could be considered at the opposite end of spectrum from Planck's length? Is there a table of smallest and largest value for various physical quantities that can be ...
4
votes
5answers
902 views

Why are $\mu_0$ and $\epsilon_0$, which appear in electrostatics and magnetostatics, related to the speed of light which appears in electrodynamics?

$\epsilon_0$ and $\mu_0$ appear in electrostatics and magnetostatics. When we include time varying fields we have electrodynamics and the appearance of c which turns out to be related to $\epsilon_0$ ...
4
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4answers
315 views

How accurate are constants in cgs units?

I am just curious that if constants in cgs units change the answer of an equation. For example, Coulomb's constant, in SI units it equals to $8.98...\times 10^9 \,\mathrm{N\,m^2\,C^{-2}}$. However in ...
4
votes
3answers
191 views

In what subfields and how far can the naive limit $c\rightarrow\infty$ of special relativity be carried?

Even if many interesting similarities between the classical and the quantum mechanical framework have been worked out, e.g. in the subject of deformation quantization, in general, there are some ...
4
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3answers
228 views

why are the anthropometric units (which are about as big as we are) as large as they are relative to their corresponding Planck units? [duplicate]

so this might have some duplicated inquiry that this question or this question had, and while i think i have some of my own opinion about it, i would like to ask the community here for more opinions. ...
4
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1answer
140 views

Official definition of astronomical units

As it is relatively easy to find an official value for a large number of physical constants, (thanks to CODATA), it is not so easy for some units widely used in astronomy (Wikipedia, Google and IAU ...
4
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3answers
1k views

Why are the classical electron radius, the Bohr radius and the Compton wavelength of an electron related to each other?

Using the definition of the fine-structure constant $\alpha = \frac{4 \pi \epsilon_0 \hbar c}{e^2}$ and the Compton wavelength of an electron $\lambda_c = \frac{h}{m_e c}$ the classical electron ...
4
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1answer
176 views

Fine Tuned Universe

Is the fine tuning that cosmologists talk about (that our Universe is fine tuned for intelligent life) is the same as the fine tuning of the squared mass parameter of the Higgs in the Standard Model? ...
4
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2answers
263 views

Fundamental Constants in a theory of everything (TOE)

Do physicists ever expect to be able to derive the fundamental constants of nature from theory? For example, if string theory or some other theory unites the four forces, would the theory be ...