 Responsa

# 137–The Fine Structure Constant

Q:This question is that of a physicist I know with whom I spoke about "137", the fine structure constant gematrias. His comment is how can any conclusions be drawn when the fine structure constant is not a whole number but 137.abc etc…i.e. fractional?

A: The number 137 is a very close approximation. For a long time physicists were not sure if it is an exact number, or whether there is a decimal to be added to it. As a rule, the Written Torah  and Oral Torah always round off numbers, especially when they are very close to a whole, natural number. There is no problem whatsoever in relating to a number and the significance of the number even if it is slightly rounded off. Even to the extent that pi is sometimes considered to be 3, which is a very rounded off version of pi.

The justification for rounding off a number is that theoretically, in the source, it is the simple, natural number. As it descends, or enters into reality there is a certain "curvature of space" which adds an additional fraction to the pure, natural number. In the case of pi, for instance, the infinite series of numbers, whose infinite limit is what we know to be pi does actually begin with the number 3. So is the case for e, the infinite limit of a series which begins from 3. This is not the place to discuss this in depth, but it is a very important concept in the Torah.

All the pure numbers of physics and science begin from some natural number. As in an infinite series, the limit can be an irrational or even transcendental number. However, as stated, the series always begins from a natural number. In this case it is very clear that the natural number of the fine structure constant is 137. Back to Responsa table of contents

#### Q&A: Wrong Place at the Wrong Time? 