Here is a thought, when the first mother of our species was ‘created’, it was done so by the accumulation of trillions of atoms to form a ‘mass’ that is a human mammal with all the operational functions that we think of as making us distinctively human.
In order to understand how we humans came to be, first we have to understand exactly what ‘mass’ is and what is involved in the mechanics of forming it. I will start with our solar system, I could keep going out further but our own solar system is far enough to make a point. So we start with the biggest bit of mass in our solar system which is of course… you in the back row! yes you! daydreaming??? what is the biggest object of mass in the solar system? The sun? Yes of course it is the sun. Then we step down then to Jupiter the next biggest bit of mass, skip over a couple and make your way down to earth, and within earth we have rocks. And what is all this mass made up of? It is all molecules and they all work as a team to form a mass of something. And so it is with every lump of mass in the solar system, from rocks to planets to a sun, everything of mass has a molecular structure. For perspective, about 45 billion, billion molecules would make an object the size of a dice.
But what makes up molecules? Well that, of course, is our old friend the atom. The ancient Greek philosopher Democritus first theorised that all matter would continually be divisible until it gets down to a point where it could no longer be divisible and that point he called an atom. Atom literally means indivisible. It was the invention of the cathode ray tube in the 1890’s that enabled physicist, JJ Thomson, to ‘see’ the effect caused by an atom within the beam of light and in his experiments he identified the electron, the negatively charged cloud within the atom.
The cathode ray tube is what enabled the creation of television, which is the transfer of particles to enable us to see in one location what is happening in another location. It is interesting to note the 1926 prophesy of famous inventor Nikola Tesla:
“When wireless is perfectly applied the whole earth will be converted into a huge brain, which in fact it is, all things being particles of a real and rhythmic whole. We shall be able to communicate with one another instantly, irrespective of distance. Not only this, but through television and telephony we shall see and hear one another as perfectly as though we were face to face, despite intervening distances of thousands of miles, and the instruments through which we shall be able to do all of this, will fit in our vest pockets”.
Here he accurately predicted the cellphone but also identified that the earth is simply a huge brain that can enable communication between all the particles that make it up. In fact this same description can be applied to the whole universe.
The fact that all atoms are cloaked with the negative energy charge that we call an electron is the reason we cannot walk through a brick wall. Like forces repel each other as any kid playing with a magnet knows. So it is when your negatively charged atoms try to walk through the negatively charged atoms that are the brick wall. And if the wall has trillions more atoms bonded together than your body, because different chemical elements contain different numbers of protons, neutrons and electrons, then you are flat on your arse with a lump on your head.
Our own Ernest Rutherford worked out that there was more to an atom than just this negatively charged electron. And so with experiments he identified a nucleus within the atom. It wasn’t easy to spot because atoms are not big things. I am reliably informed that about a million of them standing one behind the other would bridge the width of a needle. And if we then imagine the atom as the size of a basketball, the nucleus would be the size of a marble inside it (about 1:1000).
Following on from that he eventually found the proton, the little positive charge housed within the nucleus. He named it ‘proton’ after the Greek word ‘protos’ meaning ‘first’.
Rutherford then discovered that he could disintegrate the nuclei of nitrogen atoms by firing particles from a radioactive source which, in turn, resulted in the release of fast protons. This was the first ever artificially-induced nuclear reaction, a breakthrough that would lead ultimately to nuclear power and the atomic bombs that devastated Hiroshima and Nagasaki in World War II. But while smashing atoms into each other may change the structure of the atom, he did not end up with two half-atoms split down the middle as the common language would imply. An atom does not die, it always was and always will be.
In 1932 an English physicist, James Chadwick, identified the neutron, the neutral particle within the nucleus and finally we had the trinity of energy that makes up the one atom; the positive, the neutral and the negative, like the red, green and black wires in the cord that turns on our light.
Moving onwards to us humans, as well as other animals and living plants, and we discover that after our atoms sort themselves out into the appropriate molecular structures (seven billion billion billion molecules make up a 70kg human; so I am probably a tad over 7 billion billion billion). Of this, almost 2/3 is hydrogen, 1/4 is oxygen, and about 1/10 is carbon. These three molecular structures add up to 99% of the total human. The molecules then co-operate to create cells, over 30 trillion of them in fact (although again I might be a tad over that).
So how do all these atoms, molecules and cells actually cohabit within a body in a way that does not create chaotic collisions everywhere? Communication. It is what makes the world go round. Just as humans walking down the street by intuitive cooperation and unspoken signals of communication do not continually bump into each other, so too quantrillions of atoms have a communication system that allows them to co-operate harmoniously and creatively avoiding bumping into each other; and they create more communication systems within the molecules and cells that they create.
Once all the required cells have produced a mammal such as Eve, a few of them form into a pea sized gland called the pineal and happily nestle between the two hemispheres of her brain. In fact this is the first gland to be created in the human body after initial conception. You may recall an earlier blog where I wrote about the cultural and religious significance we have historically given to this tiny, pine-shaped gland. I concluded that this little gland may in fact be our human router connecting our PC (brain) to the universal internet. Do we have a built in universal wi-fi? If so is it this wi-fi that connects us with all other groups of atoms also connected (other humans and mammals) by their pineal router and enables us to co-operate, avoid bumping into each other and live in harmony (unless our ambition or hunger overrides such harmony)?
When you ask a physicist to describe an atom he or she will tell you:
- It is invisible to the eye. We can only perceive its existence by its effect on things we can see.
- It is three elements in one.
- It is eternal. It had no beginning and has no end.
- It is all-powerful. It creates the universe and everything in it.
- It exists everywhere. There is nowhere that the atom is not present.
I was raised in Christian schools my entire school life. I know by heart the Christian theologian’s description of God. It is as above, word for word.