The Fine Structure Constant


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The fine structure constant, alpha (α), has a value of 1/137…. It first appeared as the velocity in speed of light units of the orbiting electron in its lowest energy state in a hydrogen atom. The analysis of the orbital velocity gives the equation


where e is the charge of the electron ħ is Planck’s constant, and c is the speed of light.

The fine structure constant is the ratio of electromagnetic forces to nuclear forces. Furthermore, alpha appears throughout quantum electrodynamic (QED) theory. QED physicists use the constant throughout their analyses of the interactions of electron and photons. However, they have not the least idea of its origin. Many physicists reading a book, when they come to page 137, will pause and wonder what the origin of α is.

During the years 1967 to 1970, the McDonnell Douglas Company funded the Advanced Propulsion Research Group to develop a new physical theory which, hopefully, would lead to extremely advanced propulsion. The group consisted of Joseph M. Brown (PhD Purdue – Mechanical Engineering), Darell B. Harmon, Jr. (PhD UCLA – Physics), Leon A. Steinert (PhD Colorado – Physics), and Robert M. Wood (PhD Cornell – Physics).

The research centered on developing a theory of physics based on an absolute space – separate absolute time universe filled with an ether of extremely small, smooth, elastic spheres. We dubbed this the kinetic particle theory of physics. Two parameters characterizing such a gas are the particle mean speed vm and the particle RMS speed vr. Toward the end of the research effort, we discovered the relation


The value 1/137….. results since vr/vm =√(3π/8). This expression, modified by the orbital analysis of the atom using the atom center of mass system, gave the factor 1/137……. This quantity agreed with the value of the fine structure constant within one part in 70,000, see the paper by Brown, Harmon, and Wood [1].

Based upon the precise agreement of this arrangement of the kinetic particle gas parameters and the fine structure constant, our group felt greatly encouraged that the kinetic particle theory of physics should be developed.

We assumed that nuclear particles consisted of condensations of the ether gas and that a condensation would act like a (fluid mechanic) doublet. Further, matter had to consist of mass orbiting at the speed of light. This was required to give matter energy as E=mc2. The computation of the interaction of one nucleon with another consisted of the analysis of two doublets. From this it was deduced that the strength of the strong nuclear force was proportional to the square of the mean velocity and, of course, proportional to the ether mass density. Thus, nuclear forces are proportional to ρvm2. This analysis was reported by Brown and Harmon in reference [2].

We soon concluded that these condensations moving at the speed of light in a circle making matter had been neutrinos translating in a straight line (at the speed of light, of course). For a condensation to be stable, it had to suck in gas particles, align them, and then expel them in two extremely fine streams. This required a pumping mechanism and streams that were so fine that this outflow would not interfere with the inflow. This fine stream requirement necessitated an extremely large mean free path to particle diameter ℓ/d ratio. The ℓ/d for the ether gas is 1018, see page 51 of [3].

It was noted that when particles were taken from a Maxwell-Boltzmann gas, aligned to be parallel and directed with the same sense, then squeezed together so that they formed a solid stream without changing their energy, then the translational velocity will jump from vm to vr, an 8.5% increase in velocity. The neutrino does what is specified above. This means that the neutrino will translate at the velocity vr-vm. Therefore, the speed of light is c=vr-vm. This discovery was reported in reference [4] and [5].

Knowing that the speed of light is vr-vm, we know that electromagnetic forces are the background density ρ times (vr-vm)2. With this information and that the strong nuclear force is proportional to ρvm2 we now know that


is the ratio of the electromagnetic force to the strong nuclear force.

The neutrino has two fine streams of ether particles exiting in opposite directions from the spherical neutrino. The stream directed forward is a solid stream translating at the velocity vr. The stream directed aft is at the velocity vm. When a neutrino is in a circular orbit, being a nuclear particle, such as the proton, then it produces a spherical wave with a velocity amplitude vr followed by a velocity amplitude vm. Thus, one of the primary characteristics of the electrostatic field is wave spaces with dimensions of 10-16m (the orbital radius of the proton, see page 600 of [3]). The waves advance spherically symmetric from the proton at the velocity vr-vm, or c.

The interactions of photons and electrostatic charge are dominated by these wave spaces. A photon consists of a string of the ether gas particles strung out uniformly over a harmonic wave. For high energy photons each wave space has many particles and for very low energy photons many wave spaces along the harmonic curve may have no particles. The wave spaces always travel radially from the charged particle at the speed of light. Thus, the speed of light is always the same, which is vr-vm. The wave space encapsulate the photon particles making up the photon.

From the above discussion and analyses it is clear that we know much about the fundamental mechanism of the fine structure constant. However, we still do not know why the electron in its lowest state in the hydrogen atom has the velocity [(vr-vm)/vm]2.

1. Brown, J.M., Harmon Jr., D.B., and Wood, R.M., “A Note on the Fine Structure Constant,” McDonnell Douglas Astronautics Company Paper MDAC WD 1372 Huntington Beach, CA, June 1970.
2. Brown, J.M., Harmon, Jr. D.B., “A Kinetic Par- ticle Theory of Physics”, J. Mississippi Academy of Sciences, VXVIII, Pages 1-26, 1972. Avail- able from Basic Research Press.
3. Brown, J.M., The Mechanical Theory of Everything, ISBN: 978-0-9712944-9-3, Basic Research Press, Starkville, MS, 2015.
4. Brown, J.M., “A Counter Example to the Second Law of Thermodynamics”, Abstract p.98, Jour- nal of the Mississippi Academy of Sciences, Vol. XXVI Supplement, 1981. Available from Basic Research Press.
5. Brown, J.M., “Force Production from Interacting Gas Flows for BMD Applications”, Final Report on U. S. Army Contract DAS6-80-C-0034 Administered by U. S. Army Ballistic Missile Defense Agency, Box 1500, Huntsville, Al. 35807, October 1, 1981.

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