No, this is not a Carnival of the Vanities announcement. That was back here in ought-five, though the following comment was added to it by a reader:
Wikipedia places the value of the Sommerfield fine-structure constant at 137.03599911.
There’s no discernible reason it should have that value; scientists have been looking for the “why” ever since it was first defined, with no tiniest glimmer of a way to find a clue, much less actual evidence — but if it were different we wouldn’t be here, because many processes go the way they go because of that value.
The anthropic principle doesn’t say the fine structure constant has that value because we’re here; it says we’re here because the fine structure constant is what it is — if it were different it would still be what it was, but there wouldn’t be any physicists to calculate it. It answers the “many worlds” and “multiverse” hypotheses by saying, in effect, “So the f* what? Pay attention, people!”
Similarly, Richard P. Feynman (source):
It has been a mystery ever since it was discovered more than fifty years ago, and all good theoretical physicists put this number up on their wall and worry about it. Immediately you would like to know where this number for a coupling comes from: is it related to pi or perhaps to the base of natural logarithms? Nobody knows. It’s one of the greatest damn mysteries of physics: a magic number that comes to us with no understanding by man. You might say the “hand of God” wrote that number, and “we don’t know how He pushed His pencil.”
I will say this: Construct a circle. Divide it by two radii to form the golden ratio. The smaller of the two sectors will be close to — but not exactly — 137 degrees.
And unwilling to be exclusionary, I’ll add this: Physicist Wolfgang Pauli, who was one of the worriers described by Feynman, died of pancreatic cancer in 1958 in a hospital in Zurich — in room 137.