It appears that the standard model of physics contains around 26 of these constants and further it appears that changing most of these by even the smallest amount can result in changes to chemistry, nuclear physics and space itself that would cause life to be impossible. 2 There appears, to use Davies’ often used phrase “some fine tuning” going on. So if the constants are changing, or have changed – why did they change to a value that today makes life possible?
The way that the laws of nature, expressed in mathematics, describe the relationships between space, time and matter has a great formal coherence. 1 There are fundamental constants in physics that are apparently arbitrary—numbers that seem to exist entirely in their own right, without reference to the rest of the universe. No obvious reason seems to exist for them to be as they are; they are simply the way the world is.
The fine structure constant is one of the fundamental constants in nature, just like the speed of light or Planck's constant. It is there, and that's all we know for sure. We don't really have a compelling theory on its origin, nor a mechanism that explains its value 3
The fine structure constant is one such parameter: This number, which has become ubiquitous in physics, remains mysterious. One of the pioneers of quantum theory, Wolfgang Pauli said of it, “When I die, my first question to the devil will be: What is the meaning of the fine structure constant?”
Michael Murphy writes that “All ‘everyday’ phenomena are gravitational and electromagnetic. Thus G and α are the most important constants for ‘everyday’ physics” .
The laws of physics seem peculiarly well suited to life. The laws of physics: - or more precisely the constants of nature like the charge on an electron or G or α - are consistent with the existence of life.