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ibstubro's avatar

What's the smallest particle of matter so far hypothesized, and how do we know it exists?

Asked by ibstubro (12179 points ) March 1st, 2014

If we humans ever discover the smallest, root particle of the Universe, is it possible that that particle will be synonymous with God?

Most of our superstitions and traditions have a basis in truth – a reason they existed in the beginning. Is it possible that God will be found in the smallest universal particle of matter?

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21 Answers

talljasperman's avatar

Neutrinos. God particle… their will always be one smaller like a string.

PhiNotPi's avatar

So far, the elementary particles are the smallest known, if you are talking about physical size (like diameter). In fact, scientists have been unable to measure their actual size, because they are simply too small. String theory implies that particles do have a non-zero size, but they are still really really small.

I don’t see any reason the particle would be related to God.

CWOTUS's avatar

It may be that, like electrons (or what we have hypothesized electrons to be, since even they haven’t very well been “observed” yet), the smallest particles may consist of energy wave-particles. That is, like light, they may be particles that sometimes act in a particular way (pun not intended) and sometimes act like an energy wave, or waves with properties of matter.

I don’t pretend to understand all (or even 10%) of everything that I’ve read about quarks and neutrinos and other subatomic particles, but it does seem to me that the questions about god or gods are more about “why”, and the questions about “the stuff that stuff is made of” are more about “what”. Yeah, god might turn into a “what” question, and the subatomic questions may turn into “why” questions, so in that narrow way there may be some rough equivalence, but I don’t think that god is going to be as particular as this. (Okay, that pun was intended.)

gailcalled's avatar

James Joyce was responsible for “quark.”

flutherother's avatar

The smallest particle of matter is a grain of dust or the tip of a hair. One you get smaller than that it isn’t matter anymore, just waves and probabilities.

Cruiser's avatar

It’s that damn sliver in my thumb! Even though I can’t see it I know it exists and despite my best tweezers I can’t get it out!

Bill1939's avatar

Einstein’s famous equation suggests to me that all particles are concentrated energy that at a Planck scale do not exist as physical things. Conversely, if one could see the entire universe it would appear to be a single particle.

flutherother's avatar

The singularity at the centre of a black hole.

Bill1939's avatar

@flutherother I question whether the mathematical definition of a singularity is the same as a singularity at the center of a black hole. I think that a black hole’s singularity might be a Planck length in diameter. However, your point is well taken. The compressed energy within a Planck singularity would be the smallest “particle” possible in the physical universe.

KNOWITALL's avatar

Interesting concept. I assume the particle has a consciousness of some kind, maybe even alien consciousness, so why not.

Bill1939's avatar

@KNOWITALL I fail to see how the concept of consciousness applies. Are you imagining that a Planck singularity might be self-aware? I find it difficult to conceive of a star or planet having consciousness.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@Bill1939 Theists generally agree that God is a thinking being, I think you can probably follow my thought processes from there.

LostInParadise's avatar

Pardon my obtuseness, but I do not see where you are going with this. Could you please explain. The only thing I can think of is the pantheist view that God and the Universe are one and the same, but I did not think that was how you look at it.

Bill1939's avatar

@KNOWITALL the assumption that a God would “think” in anyway analogous to how humans think is unwarranted. I reject the notion that deities are afflicted with the same emotional foibles that people have, such as jealousy or hubris.

ibstubro's avatar

Yes, Pantheism is essentially the basis for my question, @LostInParadise, although I did not know that such a term existed when I wrote the question.

When I was younger, I delved into most of the world’s prominent religions, but I don’t recall hearing of Pantheism. My brain wants to associate it with Candide.

LostInParadise's avatar

I learned about pantheism when we covered Spinoza in philosophy 101. As far as I know he is the most prominent exponent of that point of view. Reading a translation of Spinoza is a hoot.
His major work Ethics was written to look like Euclid, with axioms and theorems. There is a lot of great stuff to ponder over, but you have to read between the lines to truly appreciate it.

Spinoza’s philosophy was considered quite radical at the time. He was, and still is by some, branded as an atheist. He was excommunicated from his local Jewish community, in part (or so I was told) because the Jews were very frightened that the Dutch might kick them out of the only European country that tolerated them.

ibstubro's avatar

Spinoza I am familiar with, @LostInParadise. I guess Pantheism got lost in the volume of information when I encountered him in the past. Thanks for enlightening me!

Dan_Lyons's avatar

I dunno @Bill1939the assumption that a God would “think” in anyway analogous to how humans think is unwarranted.”

It may quite warranted my friend. Imagine, if this God did create humans. Don’t you think it would create us (our thought processes) similar to itself?

Bill1939's avatar

@Dan_Lyons the notion that God created humans (in His image) requires that one believe that creation is complete, which I doubt. Key to life on Earth is DNA. Differences between the simplest life forms and the most complex are the products of the length and order of a succession of four chemicals linked in a chain. If God has DNA, I suspect that it would be far more complex than our own. Following this assumption all life is made in His (or Her) image, but all fall short of being equal to the Creator.

LostInParadise's avatar

Didn’t God mix his DNA with that of Mary so that she could give birth to Jesus?

Bill1939's avatar

@LostInParadise, no. The notion that Christ was conceived without sexual intercourse was invented centuries after the crucifixion, as was the concept of the Trinity.

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