The Secret World of Quanta

Delve into the quantum world and explore how particles keep you alive.

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1. Quanta

Suspend your beliefs and disbelief,  and take a journey into the quantum universe. Imagine, if you will, your body; the organs that are keeping you alive. Your heart; can you hear it beating? Can you feel your pulse? It allows you to know you are still alive. Delve into your body, peel away the skin, the veins and arteries, the muscles and tendons. Picture your skeleton, the articulated bones that keeps your body from flopping like jelly. See your heart, safe in its cage of ribs, pulsating as it pushes blood through your body. 

Go deeper, zoom into to the individual elements and the bonds between them. Further, closer. The atoms of these elements, thousands upon thousands of tiny, unthinkablly tiny atoms. A collection of protons, electrons and neutrons, together to create an atom, which in turn make up everything you see. 

Look closer, move past the outer electrons, fly through the empty space which makes up the majority of the atom. See the nucleus? That ball of protons and neutrons, held together by the strong nuclear force? 

Can you see me? I'm waving at you. There's not much room here - only 0.5 femtometres between me and the next nucleon. I'm Proton #3 in this oxygen nucleus. My kin and I allow this atom to exist and in turn, this atom is part of the thousands of oxygen atoms that pass through your blood and into your cells that allows respiration to happen. 

So really, i am at least part of the reason you are alive. 

I suppose you could call me a heroine. 

I know I'm female, but I'm not sure why or how. Maybe I don't have a gender, but because i am talking to you, a human, who will identify as something, even if it is not male or female, I am female for now. 

I just wanted to inform you of all that we - the quantum people - do for you. Then you may appreciate us more. 

Do you yearn for more? We can go deeper if you want. I am made up of quarks - elementary particles, like electrons. Two up quarks and a down quark if you were wondering. But like you, i consider myself an individual despite being made up of smaller particles. 

Zoom back out, all the way out, passed the nucleus, back through the atom, passed the electrons and out into the sea of atoms in your veins. The sea becomes a river of blood, and out into your body. Zip up your skin and come back to your world. 

But don't forget about my world, the strange, fascinating quantum world that lurks beneath the surface of every thing in your world, animate and inanimate.

I am always there, keeping you alive, making your world the way it is. Remember that, next time you take life for granted. 

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