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The Mysterious Number 137

Nature volume 137, page 877 (23 May 1936) | Download Citation



IT is a remarkable fact, first made prominent by Sommerfeld's discussion of the fine structure of the hydrogen spectrum, that from three physical constants, h (Planck's constant), c (the velocity of light in vacuo) and e (the charge on an electron), a dimensionless pure number can be formed, which usually occurs in the form 7ic/2Tce2, with the numerical value 137, or more accurately 137-2.

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