IF EVERYTHING AROUND US CONSISTS OF ATOMS, MOST OF WHICH ARE MADE UP OF EMPTINESS, AND IF THE ACTUAL PHYSICAL STRUCTURES THAT COMPOSE OUR BODIES ARE SO FEW, THEN WHAT MAKES MATTER SO SOLID AND DURABLE?
When speaking of a huge emptiness in between the elementary particles, the French philosopher Jean Guitton (1901–1999) gives the following example:
Think of the proton of the oxygen nucleus as the size of a pinhead; then the rotating electron would draw a circle that traverses the Netherlands, Germany and Spain (assuming that the center of this orbit was France, as Guitton lived there). Therefore, if all the atoms that make up my body were close enough to touch one another, you wouldn’t be able to see me at all. [I] would be a particle of dust, just one thousandth of a millimeter.
If we could enlarge an apple to the size of the world, each atom, proportionally, would be the size of a football. We would then be able to learn everything about the atoms by taking one of those atoms and examining it in our hands, wouldn’t we?
No, we wouldn’t!
It isn’t this easy. Even if an apple were to be the size of the world, it would still be too small to attain enough information about its atoms. If we want to see the nucleus of the atom, we must enlarge it to the size of a town, not a football. Then the nucleus, which is the size of a football, is in the middle, and one of the electrons, orbiting 1 kilometer away, would be no larger than a walnut.
Now let’s apply this example to the hydrogen atom, which is the smallest atom. If the nucleus of a hydrogen atom were enlarged to the size of a football then the atom itself would be a sphere with a diameter of 2 kilometers.
The discovery of the atom is in fact the discovery of empty space. It might sound strange to hear the words “huge” and “emptiness” in the same sentence when talking about the atom.
One night, a pessimist, an optimist, and a physicist were looking at the cloudless sky. The pessimist said, “What a great emptiness,” while the optimist said, “There are countless stars.” The physicist, on the other hand, couldn’t say anything, because he wasn’t sure whether what they had seen was a vast amount of objects or a vast field of emptiness.
The developments in modern physics in recent years have changed concepts such as, “substance,” “particle,” and “vacuum.” Vacuum is usually defined as “the living environment, life breath, or energy” of the universe.
The vast vacuum that physicist sees in the sky is what we call the quantum field
The quantum field is formless and shapeless. It is the field of all forms and the basic essence of the universe. The durable and solid substance that we call a particle is the condensation of this field into small units. The quantum field is the environment of activity, transportation, and communication, all at the same time. It is noteworthy that this approach is very close to the ancient approach that claims that space is full of ether.
Albert Einstein defined matter as the space region in which this field was extremely condensed. According to the understanding of the new physics, both the matter and the field of the matter are the same thing.
According to quantum physics, all matters in space are like islets in an ocean, and are connected to each other through subjacent earths. In the concept of a quantum field, space is a stable integrated whole and unity of waves and these interactions happen in “waves.”
Vacuum is not emptiness
The vacuum was once believed to be a place with nothing inside it. However, the universe has a beginning, and everywhere in this universe was once a single place that later came into existence. Therefore, it is impossible for a place in which “there is nothing” to exist in the universe. In brief, subsequently, there must have been something everywhere that has been created. Just as there is no dry place in the sea, there cannot be any emptiness in this sea of existence that was created out of nothing. Underlining this truth, quantum physics defines the universe as a whole and says there is no emptiness in the absolute sense. In other words, the universe in which there is no “empty” space is a world that has been “called into being.”
If everything around us, even human beings, consists of atoms, most of which are made up of emptiness, and if in fact the actual physical structures that compose our bodies are so few, then why can’t we go through walls or closed doors, like cartoon characters? What makes matter so solid and durable?
In fact it is not easy to answer this question. Electrons are created in small places, like atoms, and have been given phenomenal speed. An electron moves at 1,000 kilometers per second (that means it rotates one million times around the nucleus). As a result of this phenomenal speed, the atom becomes a tough and solid mass. We can compare this to airplane propellers that appear to be a solid and flat surface when spinning.
The amazing electron
The features of electrons, such as being able to pass through two holes in an obstacle at the same time (no other particle can do this) have astonished scientists and brought out a metaphysical dimension that are beyond the wave nature of light. The granular structures of subatomic particles contradict the understanding of matter. According to the findings of quantum mechanics, the particle is in fact nothing but a dynamic effect and movement. The particles can be composed of energy or they can be entirely converted to energy. The classical concept of elementary particle is becoming obsolete in today’s world.
Nevertheless, the changes in our perception of matter do not necessarily mean matter is unreal. The truth is that particles of matter do not have a constant reality or an independent essence, in contrast to what has been assumed. Whatever seems to be or is reflected as matter, energy, or value, or whatever we call it, is nothing but the manifestation of the Divine Names of the Creator Who created “nothingness.”
Think of a shadow play. The image that the audiences see on the curtain, which is far from the source of light, is not “real.” The real thing is another object that is in front of the source of light or behind the curtain. What we see is the reflection of the object itself or its movements. If we don’t know how this play has been staged, we may think that the image on the curtain is real. Even though there is an image on the curtain, it does not have its own existence and is not real. In the same way matter exists but its existence and its being in this condition is not something under its control.
Before the realm of the quantum was discovered, Newtonian physics had accepted matter as being solid, durable, and constant. Everything we touch, such as walls, trees, and all the objects we see have the solid and durable condition of matter. But if one looks at an object through an electron microscope, they will see that 99% is vacuum and 1% is light. We can form circle of light if we swing a light source in a dark room. If we add a second, third, and fourth source, and move them so that they can form illuminated spheres, someone who is observing from a distance will perceive a three-dimensional sphere instead of a two-dimensional illuminated circle. Thus, we can understand that by increasing the number of spheres we form a three-dimensional model of matter. According to quantum physics, matter found in the universe is pretty much like this example. In short, matter does not consist of a combination of solid particles. There is almost no difference between the “building stone” of human beings and the image of human on television. And we can say that just as the television broadcast disappears when there is a power cut, it is also possible for this universe, which seems so permanent, to disappear with one command.
A television broadcast is constantly being renewed through the transmission of pictures and sound by means of electronic signals. As in the example above, if our existence is like the image on television, then can we say that the universe is also being renewed every second like a TV broadcast?
None of the objects we see (trees, birds, humans, etc.) take their existence from the concrete reality of the matter that we perceive. Thus, they must receive their existence from the power and the names of the Creator Who creates everything out of nothing and keeps it in perpetual motion. In brief, although created out of nothing, existence is being created all the time.