The Constants

As a physicist and astronomer, Al was, of course, always interested in and very knowledgeable about the so-called universal constants. He encouraged his colleague Dr. Troncale, for example, to convert his extensive bio-data for the new field of Systems Allometry to planck units. As a result, conversations between Wilson and Troncale often touched on the natural constants. Those constants were a puzzle to physicists and astronomers at the time because none of them seemed to be related to the others. They seemed to be random values, yet each value appeared to be critical to the stable existence of natural systems at their most fundamental scales.

Al and Len used to meet to talk all day while walking Topanga Canyon near Al’s wife’s (Donna’s) book store. On one occasion, Len, who was also an early systems scientist in addition to being a biologist, suggested that that the constants were NOT random but actually positioned (in value) at the intersects in an unknown web or network of how the fundamental particles made stable systems. They just seemed random because the intersects were not known or understood. This was just an untestable intuition for Len derived more from systems awareness than physics.

But for Al it was a testable hypothesis on the mathematical, theoretical level. For years he used what we think was General Morphology to discover how the constants might be related in a single formula. He told Len once that he had been able to devise one equation which related several of the constants to thirteen significant figures. But he never told anyone what that equation was. We are searching his archives to try to find it. This is a reconstructed story of that search.