Marks of Divine Wisdom BSD 
 
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» Amazing Creatures
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» Yet more Amazing Creatures
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» Outboard Motor
» The Amazing Cell
» Nature's Game
» Horrendous Complexity
» The Humble Eyelid
» the Chessmaster
» the Origin of Life
» Search for Alien Life
» Elephant in the Room
» Greetings from The Cosmos
» The Atom
» Center of the Universe
» the Light is Good
» the Mask of Nature
» Divine wisdom vs Human Wisdom
» the Nature of Reality
» Mysterious World of PLants
» Almost a Miracle
» The Bite of Rationalism
» The March of Science
» Afterword
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Sfarim
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<<Previous: Greetings from The Cosmos

** The Atom **
mathematical acrobatics
In 1903 there was a convention of physicists, and one of America's greatest physicists, Albert Michelson of the famous Michaelson-Morley Experiment, said physics is over. It's over, it's finished. We know everything we need to know, all that needs to be done is calculate the values to the eighth decimal point or the twelfth decimal point. He discouraged his graduate students from going into physics because it's a dead field. Gosh, it didn't turn out that way, did it?

In 1948 Max Morn said that physics will be finished in six months, because at that time they thought there were only 3 particles: neutrons, electrons and protons. Dirac found the equation for the electron, surely somebody in six months is going to find the equation for the proton and it'll be over. Of course, it didn't turn out that way. Neither for physics nor cosmology, nor biology nor any other field studying the wisdom in nature.[1].

Instead, one of the great observations being revealed by modern science is that the nature of wisdom is the same everywhere. Be it a blade of grass or an ant or an elephant or even an atom, it is all the same character of wisdom. Namely bottomless wisdom, one can spend years and years studying it and never fully understand it.

Today, no physicist would dare assert that our understanding of the universe is near completion. On the contrary, each new discovery seems to unlock a whole new Pandora's box of even bigger, even deeper physics questions[2]. Likewise in biology and all the other branches of natural science.

Though modern scientists continue to assert it is all an accident and no intelligence was involved, they are finding out the hard way just how ridiculously complex each and every thing truly is. Even the "simplest" bacteria turns out to be an intense world of bewildering complexity.

In the atom, we find a different sort of complexity than that of the cell. The cell is essentially a miniaturized city of robot machines, control systems, etc. The atom, however, is complex in a different way. It is not a machine like complexity, but rather a mathematical complexity.

As we probe the realm of the atom, we find things lose their physical identity. The deeper one goes, the more the mathematics takes over. You cannot look at things as tangible "objects" anymore otherwise you will be trapped with contradictions. The tangible identity is gone and all you have left is the husk of an abstract mathematical structure.

Scientists have been trying to probe this mathematical structure, but the further they go, the more it leads them to increasingly difficult ground. Physicist Richard Feynman said in his famous lectures:
"What turns out to be true, is that the more we investigate, the more laws we find, and the deeper we penetrate nature, the more this disease persists. Every one of our laws is a purely mathematical statement in rather complex and abstruse mathematics. Newton's statement of the law of gravity is relatively simple mathematics. It gets more and more abstruse and more and more difficult as we go on. Why? I have not the slightest idea... It is impossible to explain honestly the beauties of the laws of nature in a way people can feel without their having some deep understanding of mathematics... Mathematics is not just a language. It is a tool for reasoning... It is in fact the results of some person's careful thought and reasoning. By mathematics it is possible to connect one statement to another... - The Character of Physical Law, Feynman pg.42
As scientists probe the atom deeper and deeper, they are left to work out increasingly complex mathematical structures. Likewise, for other physical structures such as the fabric of spacetime. Even vacuum (empty) space turns out to be a ridiculously complex interaction of n-dimensional fields of mind-boggling mathematics.

A physicists describes the current state of affairs regarding the proton[3]:
One of the more confusing things about quantum fields is that they react differently depending on how they are observed. The way we observe protons is by hitting them with other high-energy particles in a particle accelerator and seeing what comes out. In a slow collision, with very little energy involved, the proton acts like a single point particle. If we give the particles slightly more energy, the proton looks more like a blob with three points in it --- these are the three quarks of common knowledge... If we give the colliding particles even more and more energy, the proton will appear to be an ever-more-dense amalgamation of all sorts of particles: quarks, antiquarks, gluons, photons, electrons, and everything else. We call these particle partons (because they're part of the proton)...
The tantalizing paradox in nature is that things appear so childishly simple at first. As mentioned earlier, the scientists thought matter was not so complicated. Only 3 particles right? And neutrons don't affect the properties of materials significantly. They are there to stabilize the atom. So really everything, all matter, is determined by only two particles - protons and electrons. That's it!

But herein lies the paradox. Consider for a moment that we are civil engineers charged with the task of building a giant skyscraper. How many different types of materials will we need to build it? We'll need various cements, metal beams, floor tiles, strong cables, ventilation shafts, electronics and wiring for the electrical systems, etc. etc. Quite a long list of materials. What if I were to tell you, I can build it all with a special super material. It has great flexibility and can be used for everything.

Now consider that all matter on earth, consists of atoms. The trees and flowers and animals and birds, the sea and clouds and sky and even stars - everything. Now consider that the properties of atoms are determined primarily by two particles - protons and electrons. Everything we see can be built by merely two particles - protons and electrons. These two "simple" structures which are the same everywhere, are so incredibly flexible that they can be used to build every thing in the universe! Do you not see the brilliant underlying wisdom here?!

Indeed the more one studies these "basic" particles, the more he will discover worlds of complexity. The proton and electron are intense worlds of mathematical complexity. Yet they appear at first tantalizingly simple. Drawing the scientists along with elegantly simple mathematical equations.

Likewise, for the laws of physics that govern them. Gravity appears simple at first. It just pulls things together. So it appears quite simple and machine like. "Something" is pulling things together. That's all. But as one probes deeper the laws of physics, here too it begins harder and harder to explain it in terms of machine-like, cause/effect phenomena. It seems more and more that mathematics takes over and that there is some sort of "over-all Intelligence" keeping track of everything.

For example, in quantum mechanics an unobserved photon exists in all possible states simultaneously but, when observed or measured, exhibits only one state. The act of observing it by a human affects the physical reality.

Another example, "entangled particles" such as electrons or photons remain connected so that actions performed on one electron affects the other electron, even when the two are separated by hundreds of miles or even more.

The phenomenon so riled Albert Einstein that he called it "spooky action at a distance." According to his theory of special relativity, this weird behavior was impossible since the particles "communicate" with each other faster than the speed of light or even instantly. Several studies have now confirmed that, no matter how far apart entangled particles are, how fast one particle is measured, or how many times particles are measured, their states become inextricably linked once they are measured[4].

All this weirdness and spookiness disappears once you realize that nature is not a machine running on its own, with its own independent existence, but rather that there is an over-all Intelligence behind it all and keeping track of everything.

Indeed, Max Planck, a key founder of the quantum theory and one of the most important physicists of the twentieth century, said:
"As a man who has devoted his whole life to the most clear headed science, to the study of matter, I can tell you as a result of my research about atoms this much: There is no matter as such. All matter originates and exists only by virtue of a force which brings the particle of an atom to vibration and holds this most minute solar system of the atom together. We must assume behind this force the existence of a conscious and intelligent mind. This mind is the matrix of all matter".
As scientists probed the atom further, the "simple" shell peeled off and they were left with this mind boggling mathematical structure of boundless depth. As mentioned before, mathematics is not "real". It is essentially a language of thought. This is what led Max Planck to conclude there must be a "conscious and intelligent Mind" behind it all.

Interestingly even in abstract mathematics, we find these weird inexplicable connections between seemingly totally unrelated things. For instance Euler's formula which relates 5 of math's very important numbers into one beautifully simple equation. Mathematicians still marvel at it; many considering to be the most beautiful equation in mathematics. It's just too coincidental to be a coincidence. All this perfection and wisdom points that it is the work of an absolute Intelligence. See here interesting words by a school math teacher. Here is an excerpt:
I read a stat one time that said that a mathematician is 2.5 times more likely to believe in G-d than a biologist. No idea how legit that stat is at all but I can totally believe that. Math to me is like an exploration of creation. Of the Divine. It's all theoretical and abstract. You really spend your time thinking in this absolute truth mindset. You think a lot about infinity and complexities beyond your understanding. You get to practice trying to understanding something which you can never fully understand. To me math and G-d are so intertwined. G-d made math and in math I can learn about how G-d works. Every time you go a little deeper into the math it's like you get a tiny glimpse into His mind. And the more you learn, the more you realize there's so much more you'll never understand...
She ends off with a quote from Mike Roshko, a mathematician of the University of Alberta:
For me, it's amazing the way in which the seemingly different areas of mathematics fit together. When you begin studying advanced math, you tend to think of geometry, algebra, analysis and so on as separate entities, each beautiful and elegant on its own.

But as you go on, you realize that these different areas are connected in the most astonishing yet natural ways. You may discover that what you thought of as purely a part of geometry turns out to be an essential part of algebra. And what we're dealing with is not just something we've made up. It's a reality. It's there.

And it all intertwines and works so perfectly, so beautifully, that you realize that Somebody or Something must have done this. It simply could not have happened by chance. It's a kind of revelation, I guess. And it's very convincing." (see there for more)


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Footnotes