Monday, November 8, 2010

Quantum Masses

For a few decades physicists would tell me that quantum gravity effects are only relevant at the remote Planck scale, just like the stringers said. They don't say that anymore, because a few too many experimentalists have released results that they cannot explain, but they still often espouse the view that quantum gravity phenomenology will involve small corrections to the standard picture, via well behaved parameters.

This post aims to illustrate the error in this thinking. On the subject of mass coincidences, and after reading a lovely blurb by Graham D, I was reminded of a post by Louise Riofrio from last year. Louise refers to recent work by cosmochemist M. Wadhwa, who has dated the solar system at precisely

$4568.7 (+0.2/-0.4) \times 10^6$ years.

Observe that three times this figure gives exactly $13.7$ billion years, the oft quoted official age of the universe. Now Graham D, who is far ahead of the rest of us in the dating game, points out that using instead a factor of $e$ we obtain exactly $12.41$ billion years, associated to the epoch of the oldest stars.


  1. Thanks! Fascinating to wonder if there might be some physical principle behind these ratios. Scale R of the Universe is related to its age t by the simple R = ct. The larger the scale, the simpler the Universe seems to get.

  2. Yes, as Relativity taught us, time is observer dependent, and we should not be surprised if the simplest epochs that we can measure are simply related.


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