The Urban Sherpa - a blog by Christopher DeWan

(providing metaphors for better living...)

Read Work and Other Essays, a collection of nonfiction by Christopher DeWan.

Fundamental Particle rating=3

Cluster

These were the same scientists who spent their days looking at invisible things—neutrinos and quarks and electrical charge—the same people who were searching for what they'd agreed to call the "God particle"—yet somehow it slipped their minds that they spent their days trafficking in miracles, because they'd grown to take for granted, first of all, that math is a miracle.

So they were confused and speechless when the first set of images came back from their atom-smashing: they thought it was a mistake. One even laughed out loud: "That looks exactly like Markarian's Chain." She'd done graduate work in astrophysics. "It's a set of galaxies in the Virgo Supercluster."

As they compared the other images, the feeling in the room grew from uncanny to worse. Everything looked like something else. The scientists had been seeking the smallest particles in existence, and it turned out each of them was a scale replica of the largest. Zooming in to look at the atom, they'd found a literal complete universe inside, made up of stars and galaxies and nebulae and quasars, all drifting apart; ontogeny recapitulating phylogeny; and a photon was no different from a supernova. These were measured people, forced to conclude that everything they knew was but one layer tucked inside many: zoom in or zoom out, there was no difference, only collisions and explosions and beginnings and ends, and people looking outward and people looking in; and this was the God Particle, after all.