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Surprises in Numerical Expressions of Physical Constants
Ariel Amir, Mikhail Lemeshko and Tadashi Tokieda
The American Mathematical Monthly
Vol. 123, No. 6 (June-July 2016), pp. 609-612
Published by: Mathematical Association of America
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.4169/amer.math.monthly.123.6.609
Page Count: 4
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In science, as in life, “surprises” can be adequately appreciated only in the presence of a null model, what we expect a priori. In physics, theories sometimes express the values of dimensionless physical constants as combinations of mathematical constants like π or e. The inverse problem also arises, whereby the measured value of a physical constant admits a “surprisingly” simple approximation in terms of well-known mathematical constants. Can we estimate the probability for this to be a mere coincidence, rather than an inkling of some theory? We answer the question in the most naive form.
Copyright the Mathematical Association of America 2016