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  1. #1
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    Default Smallest matter in existence



    Hi, I'm not sure if this is the right place to ask a question but last time, a lot of people were really helpful to me. I talked to some other people and asked them about atoms.

    I asked if there is anything smaller than an atom. So apparently, there is, I think they are called "quarks". But my question is, just what is the smallest matter that exists?

    Take for example a digital image, right? It consists of pixels, and every pixel has a single color. You can see the pixels by zooming in, when you reach the highest zoom to a single pixel, you can't zoom anymore because you're just going to be zooming on a dull color. That's what I'm wondering, all these atoms, quarks at the lowest sub-levels, since everything/universe is made up of such energies/vibrations, just how small are they, can we manipulate them? I'm looking forward to discuss this with someone as I'm pretty much in the dark.

    Thanks. -T

  2. #2
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    Default

    You'd have to guess wouldn't you -same as the question about the speed of light - you need an instrument that will measure something that is smaller than the lowest measurement.
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    Default

    Atoms are made of protons, neutrons and electrons. Protons and neutrons are made of quarks. No one has found an internal structure of an electron - yet. Similarly, no one has found an internal structure of quarks - yet.

    There are much smaller particles, called neutrinos, which have mass, but not very much of it. However, they do not assemble into atoms.

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  4. #4
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    Default

    I think they key lies within fractal algorithms for this one. As you can see on these pictures from the Mandelbrot Set, it's just an example of infinitely zooming in, and yet you still see a clear shape of the object (be it atom or proton).

    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedi...similar-x1.jpg Normal view
    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedi...similar-x6.jpg 6X Zoom
    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedi...milar-x100.jpg 100X Zoom
    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedi...ilar-x2000.jpg 2000X Zoom

    So the point is you can zoom in infinitely and still notice that there are even smaller objects that made up the whole object. Call me naive but if we were able to manipulate and experiment with these smallest matters ever (let's call them pixel matters), don't you guys think it would be an enormous breakthrough? Imagine a machine that would create a single "pixel matter", then we would have the means to create anything. I know I am jumping the gun, I admit, but I guess it's just my inner scientist bursting out :P.

    Thanks for the replies! - T

    Edit: KeithBC made a good explanation about the internal structures of molecules which are atoms and then protons, neutrons and electrons, and then quarks, but there must be a last internal structure of the atom, shouldn't there be one?
    Last edited by nasgath; 05-17-2011 at 01:23 AM.

  5. #5
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    Default

    Well you can go the other way too - there's a video somewhere of a cell of a fly on a guys shirt in a boat on a lake in USA on earth in the solar system of the milky way of the universe, then it keeps panning back to, a cell of a fly on a guys shirt in a boat on a lake in USA on earth in the solar system of the milky way of the universe, then it keeps panning back to, a cell of a fly on a guys shirt in a boat on a lake in USA on earth in the solar system of the milky way of the universe, then it keeps panning back to
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  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by jenniferchristine View Post
    Well you can go the other way too - there's a video somewhere of a cell of a fly on a guys shirt in a boat on a lake in USA on earth in the solar system of the milky way of the universe, then it keeps panning back to, a cell of a fly on a guys shirt in a boat on a lake in USA on earth in the solar system of the milky way of the universe, then it keeps panning back to, a cell of a fly on a guys shirt in a boat on a lake in USA on earth in the solar system of the milky way of the universe, then it keeps panning back to
    Yes! Exactly! But this means that the "cell" is the start point, which means, there is nothing smaller than a cell based on your example .

  7. #7
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    Default

    Quarks we are not able to observe as free particle. As result, even famous formula E=mc^2 not working for quarks. You need also include energy of other particles - gluons to get total E=mc^2.

    I think that a gluon is smaller than a quark (by energy) and it keeps quarks together. There are theories that there may be something smaller than a gluon but it is just a theory so for now there is none.

    Smallest length is Planck length 1.6 x 10^{-35} meters. So, smallest matter should have radius greater or equal to Planck length.
    Last edited by astroval; 05-17-2011 at 02:10 AM.

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  8. The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to astroval For This Useful Post:

    j.gardavsky (05-17-2011),nasgath (05-17-2011)

  9. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by nasgath View Post
    Yes! Exactly! But this means that the "cell" is the start point, which means, there is nothing smaller than a cell based on your example .
    But only in the example. In reality, we know that the cell is not the smallest item.

    What we don't know is how much smaller than quarks, etc. things get, or how much larger than the universe things get.

    Most people have trouble comprehending that it is entirely possible that there is no smallest item or largest item. Maybe there are items infinitely smaller than a quark and infinitely larger than the universe... Does there have to be a beginning and end to everything? Just because we can’t perceive (or comprehend) something doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.
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    Thanks for the info astroval .

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