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What's the smallest unit of matter?


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Initial post: Feb 22, 2012 9:38:27 AM PST
I'm not very scientific, so bear with me.

I had always thought it was the atom, but then learned that the atom is composed of neutrons, and protons and stuff like that. And then you have quarks and subatomic particles as well.

But if those named things exist, they also in turn must be made out of something smaller. If it exists, it must have mass, and therefore must be composed of something, right? So could this go on for infinity???

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 22, 2012 10:18:56 AM PST
tom kriske says:
-->But if those named things exist, they also in turn must be made out of something smaller. If it exists, it must have mass, and therefore must be composed of something, right? So could this go on for infinity???

no.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 22, 2012 10:21:53 AM PST
No?

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 22, 2012 10:32:29 AM PST
tom kriske says:
photons exist - they do not have mass, rest mass anyway, and are not comprised of anything more fundamental. further, loop quantum gravity, which shows promise in a number of areas, rather clearly demonstrates a smallest possible volume that an object might occupy.

so...no.

Posted on Feb 22, 2012 1:26:49 PM PST
Ambulocetus says:
Also, if I'm not mistaken, quarks aren't quite like the protons and neutrons which they compose, since no one has ever seen a quark in isolation. They ONLY ever come in threes, unlike the particles which comprise the atom.

I may be wrong about this, and if so, please correct me. Basically, physicists seem to have found that time and space are more "granular" than was once thought--it is not just a blank continuum with no bottom--so this means that matter doesn't end up being "turtles all the way down," either.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Planck_length#Physical_significance
http://astronomy.swin.edu.au/cosmos/P/Planck+Time

I thought it was a GREAT question--perhaps because of my abject ignorance of physics.

Posted on Feb 23, 2012 7:53:36 AM PST
anne says:
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In reply to an earlier post on Feb 23, 2012 11:00:04 AM PST
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In reply to an earlier post on Feb 23, 2012 11:10:10 AM PST
Nat says:
"That takes you back to the temple where everything has better and simpler answer." No it doesn't and no we won't.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 24, 2012 3:25:44 PM PST
Ambulocetus says:
I don't know what mystical gobbledygoock you're peddling, but whatever it is, the actual PHYSICS that's involved is a hundred times more bizarre, awe-inspiring, and incredible.

To say nothing of useful.

Posted on Feb 24, 2012 7:18:07 PM PST
jpl says:
What's the smallest unit of matter?

jpl --
Nobody knows.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 24, 2012 7:23:21 PM PST
D. Thomas says:
No.

Posted on Feb 24, 2012 7:54:31 PM PST
jpl says:
What's the smallest unit of matter?

Quantum theory, like Einstein's specific and general relativity theories, is far more awe-inspiring to me than a superstitious belief in gods. The very fact of the mystery of quantum mechachanics, which, like Einstein's theories, has been proved over and over, blows my mind far more than any beliefs in a god or gods.

Believers can't live with "What". That's when they make a leap of faith. Maybe somebody knows "what". But whatever "what is", is, it can't be described in words, nor can it be readily dismissed by gullible beliefs.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 24, 2012 8:31:56 PM PST
ALWHorses says:
Your question presumes that "small" and "large" have a definite (not relative) meaning. Your body is "large" compared to an atom. It is "small" compared to a galaxy. Which is it -- "large" or "small"?

Your question also assumes that something is composed of something else. To whom? An observer? Who? When? Where?

"So this could go on for infinity?" It already has, does, and always will.

Posted on Feb 24, 2012 9:37:03 PM PST
D. Thomas says:
Many leading physicists, including Brian Greene and Stephen Hawking, think the smallest units of matter are vibrating one-dimensional oscillating lines called strings.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 26, 2012 11:37:24 AM PST
noman says:
http://htwins.net/scale2/
The Scale of the Universe

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 26, 2012 1:17:00 PM PST
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In reply to an earlier post on Feb 26, 2012 2:55:19 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Feb 26, 2012 2:59:20 PM PST
E. Stone says:
Thanks for that link noman.

Made me feel very big, and very very small all at the same time. :D

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 27, 2012 6:39:44 PM PST
@schwamm

logical fallacy

there may be an end to the chain and ultimate smallest item
which is exactly what M theory provides

*everythgin* is just the manifestation of vibrating energy of a ten dimensional membrane - this works perfectly on a small scale

theories to combine that with the large scale and gravity may require 248 dimensions

not everything has mass

mass happens in certain cases as the condensation of energy
when matter is formed

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 27, 2012 6:40:37 PM PST
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In reply to an earlier post on Feb 27, 2012 6:42:04 PM PST
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In reply to an earlier post on Feb 27, 2012 6:43:19 PM PST
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In reply to an earlier post on Feb 27, 2012 6:44:03 PM PST
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In reply to an earlier post on Feb 27, 2012 6:45:08 PM PST
@ thomas

that has long since been disproved

M theory has replaced all the string theories

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 27, 2012 7:59:37 PM PST
Doctor Who says:
That is factually incorrect. M theory has only provided a new view of the different types of Bosonic string theory. The fundamental units of the theory as well as the basic structure are unchanged. Branes can do many great and useful things, but the fundamental unit is still the 1D brane or string.

Posted on Feb 27, 2012 8:43:15 PM PST
Arrival Of says:
"An atom is the smallest possible unit into which matter can be divided and still retain its unique characteristics."
This is the definition from a chemistry text book at high school. Not saying it is correct because our education system is not based on truth, just what they choose to manipulate our minds with.
M theory etc are more so vibratory existences than matter from my understanding. This should help us realize that our spirit does not have to be matter. Vibrations have form.
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Discussion in:  Science forum
Participants:  31
Total posts:  127
Initial post:  Feb 22, 2012
Latest post:  Nov 15, 2012

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