In the early 1930s, when scientists began to penetrate the very small, they thought that they had found matter's elementary unit, for now they knew that all matter consisted of atoms that, in turn, consisted of protons, neutrons, and electrons. These elementary particles were considered to be matter's final indivisible components.
But two important developments in modern physics during the 1930s gradually undermined their certainty. These developments were based upon experimental, intellectual, and theoretical observations. The experimental field revealed new particles, and the relevant tools and techniques became far more sophisticated. The results showed that subatomic components were not elementary particles, for they were not even elementary. And, the number of fundamental particles continued to grow: 6 in 1935, 18 in 1955, and more than 200 today.
Subatomic particles challenge old assumptions
Classical physics held that an object's mass was connected to an elementary material that could not be annihilated or divided. But Einstein's theory of relativity disproved this by showing that mass was not related to a concept like essence, and that energy was an expression of a quantity associated with activity, process, and movement. Since a particle's mass is equivalent to a specific energy, the particle cannot be a static and stable object. Thus, a particle's mass has to be considered a dynamic entity. This energy process shows itself as mass.
The theory of relativity's most interesting aspect appeared when the process of extracting matter from pure energy was explained. Given that matter's elements were considered indivisible and non-changeable units or compounds that could be reduced to their origins, could matter be fragmented ad infinitum or would the smallest indivisible unit eventually appear? The theoretical physicist Dirac (1902-84) answered this question by showing that when two particles collide at a high speed, they generally are smashed. However, the residual pieces are not smaller than their originals, for these remnants are constituted as the same particles via kinetic energy.
Subatomic particles are split by using high energy levels to crash them into each other. Thus matter can be split forever, and no particle so obtained can be smaller than its original. Such collisions result in new particles, for the two colliding particles' energy is delivered between the particles so that new ones are formed. If there is enough such energy is produced, more particles are constituted than before the collision, meaning that subatomic particles are both divisible and indivisible.
As this is one of the best ways to study a particle's basic features, this field is called high energy physics. The necessary kinetic energy is obtained by using particle accelerators, which are a couple of miles in diameter, to accelerate protons almost to the speed of light and then crash them into another proton or neutron. It is interesting that such huge super-microscopes are used to analyze infinitely small objects.
Since 1960, the number of known subatomic particles has grown. There were electrons in the nucleus, and protons and neutrons in an atom's orbit. But what was in the proton? In 1970, Swiss researchers discovered a quark in the protons and neutrons. Its electric charge was explained by the charge value of protons and neutrons. But they could not explain what the energy was. Energy, which chained the quarks forming the proton in the nucleus, was called the strong nuclear force. But how could this energy bind the quarks together? Scientists postulated that energy was not an invisible force, but a feature formed by tiny granules and motes. Thus, these gluon (adhesive) particles bound the quarks together by pasting and clamping them in such a way that nuclear power was developed. In other words, the essence nuclear power was the gluon.
Photons, defined as particles carrying electromagnetic energy, were postulated to be the result of an exchange, a shifting between two particles. Thus, electromagnetism was a field of quantum, carried its energy through particles with no electric charge, had a spin value of 1, and was not radiating but rather perceived. Although photons had been known for a long time, scientists did not realize that they provided the force of attraction between protons and neutrons. Photons were the smallest energy packages forming the light. Now, the only thing left to be discovered was the weak nuclear force that controlled radioactive decay.
These forces had to be carried by particles. These particles (bosons), when discovered, were found to be of three types: positive (W), negative (W), and neutral (W). Thus, scientists learned that the universe's three elementary forces were carried by particles. But the particles (gravitons) carrying gravity, the weakest force, remained undiscovered.
Non-atomic particles are depicted as objects having a mass in terms of space, and as events and activities having as much energy as the quantity of the mass. Given this, the matter found in space is unstable and changes due to continuous activity and movement. This is surprising, for it means that particles move and consist of movement. In other words, matter's presence and movement are not different of each other, but represent different features of the same mechanical truth.
Based on these observations, particle physicists consider force to be an energy transition between matter, which it affects, and think that it is caused by the smaller particles' diffusion and absorption. For instance, charged particle's state of movement changes when it diffuses a photon. If another charged particle absorbs the photon, it gains energy and thus changes its condition of movement. Here, as the mutual movement changes between two particles occur as force, the change's total effect is perceived as force. And so there are no external forces, but only interactions via some inter-particles between the particles. In this way, quantum mechanics adds an unusual approach to non-atomic events and engenders a completely different description for force. In fact, force does not exist, because it is no more than tiny particles, motes, and rays. So, the interaction and continuous communication between particles give rise to force, which has no reality or presence by itself.
This truth disturbed materialists and determinists, for it showed that matter and force, which brought forth and sustain this magnificent universe, are based on another existence that indicates omnipotence. According to Said Nursi, the existence of this power is more definite than the existence of the universe, and each visible item is a proof and the sign of the Holy Power of God, the source of all objects and forces. He states: Every creature, either on its own or altogether, is this Power's solid word. Scientific names like ˜dynamic process,' ˜energy form,' or ˜effect mechanism,' are given to this governing power. However, modern science is beginning to show that the effect mechanism, which cannot be associated to any reason and is reduced to one truth, is really the manifestation of the ˜Holy Power.' Said Nursi further says The motion of particles is the vibration and motion from that writing and transcription, which occurs while beings pass from the World of the Unseen to the Manifest World, as they pass from knowledge to power. (The Words, Vol. 2, 30th Word, Second Aim, Footnote)
In conclusion, the activities and creation of creatures are manifested as wave-vibration-movement passing from the field of knowledge to the field of power. Then, the pen of Divine Power writes its fate and ushers it into the world of material existence.
- Hawking, Stephen, The Universe in a Nutshell, Bantam Books, Incorporated, 2001
- Penrose, Roger, The Emperor's New Mind: Concerning Computers, Minds, and the Laws of Physics, Oxford University Press, 1990
- Weinberg, Stewen, The First Three Minutes: A Modern View of the Origin of Universe, New York: Basic Books, 1988
- Hooft, Gerart T., In the Search of the Ultimate Building Blocks, Cambridge University Press, 1996
- Davies, Paul, God and New Physics, Simon & Schuster 1984. For other books by the same author: http://aca.mq.edu.au/pdavies.html