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Review of Spectroscopic Data for Determining the Fine Structure Constant

  • K. R. Lea
Conference paper

Abstract

The Sommerfeld fine structure constant α has played an important role in atomic spectroscopy ever since its introduction by Arnold Sommerfeld in 1916 (1). It originated in Sommerfeld’s theory of the fine structure of the optical spectrum of atomic hydrogen. In a relativistic treatment of the Kepler problem in the Bohr theory, the quantity v1/c (where v1 is the velocity of the electron in the first Bohr orbit, and c is the velocity of light) was denoted by α. But its utility goes far beyond this particular case. We note the following features regarding α:
  1. 1.

    Dimensionless fundamental constant.

     
  2. 2.

    α = e2/hc ≈ 1/137, or, in SI units, α= (μ c2/4π(e2/hc).

     
  3. 3.

    Basic coefficient in the electromagnetic°interaction.

     
  4. 4.

    Expansion parameter in quantum electrodynamics (QED).

     
  5. 5.

    Cosmological significance? Group-theoretical interpretation?

     

Keywords

Hyperfine Structure Atomic Beam Lamb Shift Kepler Problem Metastable Atom 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Company Ltd 1972

Authors and Affiliations

  • K. R. Lea
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PhysicsYale UniversityNew HavenUSA

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