Where Do We Go?!

From the microscopic to the macroscopic, from the atom as the basic building block of matter to the farthest reaches of the universe, there is clearly a limit to what the human mind can encompass.

It was around 450 B.C. that the idea of atom was first introduced. But the idea was forgotten for more than 2000 years. It was given a re-birth by Dalton early 19th century.

Typical atoms have a radius somewhere in the order of about one hundred trillionths of a meter. A human hair is about a million atoms wide.

Originally it was thought that it is indivisible. But research has shown that itconsists ofa nucleus. And the nucleus consists of two elements called protons and neutrons. The whole is surrounded by a cloud of electrons. (Electrons are 10-16 across).

The atom is the basic article of the chemical elements, and the chemical elements are distinguished from each other by the number of protons that are in their atoms. For example, any atom that contains eleven protons is sodium, any atom that contains 29 protons is copper, and so on.

Everything: a grain of sand, a mountain, or the earth is made of atoms. Humans (and all living beings) are also made of atoms.

It is estimated that there are 100 trillion atoms in a cell.Our galaxy, the Milky Way, contains approximately 100 to 400 billion stars. And, the universe is thought to consist of 200 billion galaxies.

Atoms can attach to one, or more, other atoms by chemical bonds,to form chemical compounds.

In 1897,  Thomson discovered that cathode rays are not electromagnetic waves but made of particles. He measured these particles to be 1,800 times lighter than hydrogen .

The positive charge of the atom is not distributed throughout the atom’s volume but is concentrated in a tiny nucleus at the center.

Though the word atom originally denoted a particle that cannot be cut into smaller particles, in modern scientific usage the atom is composed of various subatomic particles.

The constituent particles of an atom are the electron, the proton and the neutron.

In 1926, Erwin Schrödinger developed a mathematical model of the atom that described the electrons as three-dimensional waveforms rather than point particles.

The electron is, by far, the least massive of these particles at 9.11×10−31 kg, with a negative electrical charge. Protons have a positive charge and a mass 1,836 times that of the electron, at 1.6726×10−27 kg.

An atomic nucleus is shown here as a compact bundle of the two types of the particles in the nucleus: protons (red) and neutrons (blue).

In this picture, the protons and neutrons are shown as distinct elements, which is the conventional view in chemistry. But in an actual nucleus, as understood by modern nuclear physics, the nucleons are partially delocalized and organize themselves according to the laws of quantum chromodynamics.

The atom is too small to be seen by the naked eye. Even electron microscope does not help. What can be done is to create images.

Another problem is the spaces; since they are huge, they cannot be expressed as so many millimeters, or kilometers. For instance, the Sun is 150, 000, 000km, from us. Travelling at the speed of 300,000 kms a second, its light takes four minutes to reach us.

In other words, 300000 x 60 seconds x 60 minutes x 24 hours x 365 days is the distance light travels in one year. So, instead of this cumbersome expression it is called one light year.

Our galaxy is about 50,000 light years across. And there are 200 billion galaxies in the known universe. And according to latest discoveries, there are many universes. They call it multiverse.

The approximate size of the universe is around 95 billion light-years

According to the latest estimates, our universe is 95 billion light years end to end. And, as mentioned above, there are unknown (and unknowable) universes apart from ours.

So, where do we go from here?

Or, where do our ‘minds’ go from here?

The answer is: nowhere.

Instead: “Therefore, flee unto Allah …” (The Qur’an 50: 51)

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