If we were to see things at the atomic level, what would the world look like? I began to think about this, after reading “Flaws of Perception” by Deepak Chopra, where he sheds light on how we function at the atomic level. It’s an interesting perceptive, to think in terms of the atoms, it’s the karma of those gazillion little pieces that we live and breathe, but what I am curious about is what the world and universe looks like at that level.
But before we can imagine things at the atomic level, we need to know what an atom looks like. Now, no one has really seen an atom, nor do we have any instruments that can zoom into the level of an atom and provide us with a picture. All we have to work with is the model of an atom we all have learned in our physics and chemistry classes, you know, the one with the nucleus in the middle, with electrons revolving around it. To make things a little easier, let us imagine that the atoms are like little planetary systems, where the nucleus resembles the sun, and the electors resemble the planets that revolve around the sun.
When we look at it that way—at the atomic level, things might just be like the universe around us—lots of space, clusters of atoms, and rivers of atoms. What comes to mind is the scene from “The Matrix“, where when you peel off the skin, and you see the world as the building blocks, in this case computer code. Imagine a similar view at the atomic level, where instead of zeros and one, we see clusters of active mobile atoms, with other atoms entering, leaving, colliding, or just passing through the gaps in the atomic cluster that forms us.
Now that is probably a simple view, and if we add to the mix the ability to see the collision of light photons, neutrinos passing through us, and other sub-atomic particles bouncing off us, it probably will start to form a very noisy and chaotic view. What I am trying to get at is that there is a very active world that we are oblivious to, and at that level maybe everything just looks the same, and we are nothing but a group of atoms who have decided to stick together in an ocean of atoms and other sub atomic particles. Here is an excerpt from Deepak Chopra’s article to give you a better idea of what I mean:
In just the last 3 weeks, a quadrillion atoms, 10 to the power of 15 atoms have gone through your body that have gone through the body of every other species on this planet. And if you do radioactive isotope studies which have been done very elegantly, you can prove beyond a shadow of doubt that you replace 98% of all the atoms in your body in less than one year. You make a new liver every 6 weeks, a new skin once a month, a new stomach lining every 5 days, a new skeleton – it seems so hard and solid, but the skeleton you have now you didn’t have three months ago. Even the brain cells that you think with as carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen and oxygen, as those basic elements, they weren’t there one year ago. And the DNA that holds memories of millions of years of evolutionary time, in fact hundreds of millions of years; the actual raw material of it comes and goes every six weeks. Those atoms drift in and out like migratory birds every six weeks.
Aren’t we glad we don’t have to see the world and the universe at that level of detail, but definitely something to think about? In the end, I am left with these questions—how small does the universe get? what is the fundamental building block of the universe?