Microcosmology: Atom In Jain Philosophy & Modern Science ► 01 ► [1.3.9] Atom in Modern Science - New Physics - Order beneath Chaos

Posted: 20.06.2007

Thus the answer to the fundamental question about a material object "what is it made of" would be a series of similar questions, e.g., what is a chair made of? It is made of wood and what is the wood made of? It is made of fibres. Then fibres are made of cells and cells are made of molecules. Molecules, under high magnification are found to be patterns of atoms and lastly atoms have turned out to be patterns of subatomic particles. Now what are these (particles) made of? Energy! But subatomic particles are not made of energy. They are energy and subatomic interactions are interactions of energy with energy. At this level there is no longer a clear distinction between what is and what becomes, being and becoming become one. Pure energy can perhaps qualify to be called the ultimate stuff of the physical universe. It is energy that assumes the form of a wave or a particle, and what is called a particle is being created, annihilated and created again. High-energy physics is the study of colliding, transmuting, appearing, and disappearing particles.

[1] The Dancing Wu Li Masters by Gary Zukav, p. 213.

How does this new physics compare with the old classical physics? While the old world-view was the picture of "order beneath chaos", the new one is that of 'chaos beneath order". [1] The rational laws which govern falling objects also govern the motion of planets and there is still, of course, much truth in this as far as the macrocosm is concerned. But in subatomic world-view of relativistic particle physics, there is an unending tumultuous dance of creation, annihilation and transformation.

[2] The Dancing Wu Li Masters by Gary Zukav, p. 213.

As Jack Sarfatti wrote, "Particles do not move formally in predetermined paths. Rather it is Marx Brothers' hyper kinetic pandemonium, Charlie Chaplin slapstick, now you see it, now you don't. In fact, it is not even clear what is that has a path Its psychedelic confusion until one sees the subtle order." [2]

Is there absolutely no law? There, of course, is law of conservation. In fact, the two separate conservation laws of mass and energy of the Classical Physics is replaced by a single conservation of mass-energy. For a major revelation by Einstein's theory of relativity is that mass and energy are not separate entities (like space and time) but different forms of the same tiling. What, then, is the single law of conservation? It says that the total amount of mass-energy in the universe always has been and always will be the same. Mass may be converted into the energy and vice versa but the total amount of mass-energy does not change.

[3] Every particle has an anti-particle. Photon is its own anti-particle.

In spite of what has been said above, the enormous variety of patterns falls into a few distinct categories and reveal a great deal of older. All atoms, and consequently all forms of matter in our environment, are composed of only three particles with mass - the proton, the neutron and the electron and a fourth without mass one - the photon that is the unit of electromagnetic radiation. Except the neutron, all arc stable particles, i.e. they live forever unless they are involved in a collision process. The neutron can spontaneously disintegrate into a proton by emitting an electron and a new type of massless particle called neutrino through a basic process of radioactivity called "beta decay". The electrons, which are emitted in this process, become powerful radiations and are used in biology, medicine, and industry. The neutrinos, or to be precise, the anti-neutrinos [3] are very difficult to detect as they have neither mass nor electric charge.


Except the above four, which are only a fraction of the total number of particles given in the table (See Appendix Atomic Table), are unstable, and decay again and again until a combination of stable ones remains. These unstable particles live for less than a millionth of a second. Some of them have different 'charge-states' as can be seen in the table. Again they have different mass - electron has the least mass, unions, pious and kaons are a few hundred times heavier, the others arc one to three thousand times heavier. All particles (except photon) fall into two broad groups: leptons' and hadrons'. The leptons do not participate in strong interactions as the hadrons do. The hadrons are again divided into mesons and baryons, which differ in various ways, one of them being that all baryons have distinct anti-particles, while meson can be its own anti-particle. The leptons are involved in weak interactions, which manifest themselves only in certain kinds of 'particle collisions' and in 'beta decay'.

Thus, the universe is made of both particles and antiparticles. Our pan of it is, however, made almost entirely of regular molecules, which compose regular atoms, to produce regular molecules, which make regular matter, which is what our physical world is made of Leptons, mesons, baryons, mass, charge, and anti-particles are some of the man-made concepts that the scientists use to describe the subatomic world.

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