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The Proton Is the Most Complicated Thing Imaginable

Democritus suggested that all matter in the universe was made up of tiny, indivisible, solid objects. He called these particles "atomos” which is Greek for “uncuttable” or “indivisible.” Later scientists discovered that these atoms could be divided into smaller particles known as the electron, proton, and neutron. Now, more than a century after Ernest Rutherford discovered the proton at the heart of every atom, physicists are still struggling to fully understand it.

High school physics teachers describe protons as featureless balls each with one unit of positive electric charge. College students learn that the ball is actually a bundle of three elementary particles called quarks. But decades of research have revealed a deeper truth, one that’s too bizarre to fully capture with words or images. Most recently, a monumental analysis found that the proton contains traces of particles called charm quarks that are heavier than the proton itself.

Mike Williams, a physicist at MIT, said, “This is the most complicated thing that you could possibly imagine. In fact, you can’t even imagine how complicated it is. (The proton) has been humbling to humans. Every time you think you kind of have a handle on it, it throws you some curveballs.”

Our understanding of the atom has come a long way. While it has taken several thousand years, our knowledge of the fundamental structure of all matter has advanced considerably. And yet, there remain many mysteries that are yet to be resolved. With time and continued efforts, we may finally unlock the last remaining secrets of the atom. Then again, it could very well be that any new discoveries we make will only give rise to more questions and they could be even more confounding than the ones that came before!

Possible Preaching Angle:

Scientists continue to expand our knowledge of the universe and how it operates. Just as the universe is massively complex with uncounted galaxies, so the subatomic world is massively complex. Together they are silent witnesses of the mind of our omniscient and omnipotent Creator who designed it and “in him all things hold together” (Col. 1:17).

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