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Nuclear efficiency and the fine structure constant?

  1. Oct 5, 2004 #1
    I find in Martin Rees "Just Six Numbers" that hydrogen undergoes fusion to helium with a mass energy conversion of .007, that is, the mass of the helium formed is less than the mass of the hydrogen by this ratio.

    Is it a coincidence that this number is the same as the fine structure constant from QED which I find described in



    I have pretty much convinced myself that it is, but would appreciate confirmation or correction if necessary. My doubt has to do with the notion that QED relates to electromagnetic events involving electrons and photons, while nuclear reactions are governed by the electro-weak force, confined to the nucleus.

    Thanks for any help.

    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 5, 2004
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 5, 2004 #2
    It has to be a coincidence. There is nothing special about H and He.

    At the risk of causing more trouble, here is a more obvious coincidence that was brought up to me today by a teacher of mine who said that in high school, he thought this was important, but of course it is not.

    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 5, 2004
  4. Oct 5, 2004 #3
    They're completely unrelated. The fusion reaction is a matter of strong/weak nuclear forces, and the fine structure constant sets the coupling strength of the EM force. Doing numerology with these and other constants is not a very worthwhile endeavor. If you do a PF search, you can probably find a few threads on various other coincidences - but do take them with a (large) grain of salt.

    Here's an attempt to summarize them: https://www.physicsforums.com/showthread.php?t=46055
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