Are we made of Stardust?
My Persian ex-husband Foad was studying Natural Science in London when I met him in 1979. He was a genius child playing chess at age 8, winning and competing against adults and he was the first person who introduced me to Quantum Mechanics and the idea that an atom is mostly space.
First of all, atoms are ridiculously small – they’re about one tenth of a millionth of a millimeter across. That means that a human hair, one of the narrowest things visible to the eye is around a million atoms across. Put another way, there are more atoms in a glass of water than glasses of water in all the oceans in the world. And the story gets really strange. An atom isn’t just tiny, it’s over 99.9% empty space. All the weight of an atom is concentrated in a mind-numbingly tiny object at its center. It’s a trillionth of a centimeter across and is called the nucleus. The rest of the atom is entirely empty apart from a few ghostly objects called electrons that skim about at a great distance from the nucleus.
To give you a sense of how empty an atom is – if the nucleus was the size of a football, the nearest electron would be half a mile away. That means even the most solid-looking objects we see are predominantly nothingness. Put another way, if you were to remove all the empty space in the atoms that make up a human being, he or she would be a lot smaller than a grain of salt.
If you removed all the empty space from the atoms that make up all the humans on the planet, then you could fit all 6 billion of us inside a single apple.
This astonishing discovery that atoms are mainly empty was made in 1909 at Manchester University by the indefatigable Ernest Rutherford. Rutherford had great courage as a scientist and was prepared to fly in the face of convention. So when he announced that the atom was mainly empty, he did so knowing his claim flatly contradicted the then known laws of physics. These demanded that all atoms collapse instantly. It was a seismic moment in the history of science. Forced to explain the atom’s mysterious emptiness, scientists had to throw out everything they had believed to be true for the previous two centuries. Their response was to invent an entirely new science, which we now call Quantum Mechanics.
The strangest and most disturbing fact that scientists uncovered while investigating the atom was a law called the “Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle”.
In a nutshell, this states that atoms are in more than one place at the same time until a conscious observer looks at them.
Think about this for a moment – if no-one’s looking at the atoms that, say, make up your foot, they’re effectively spread out across the entire Universe. Then when someone, maybe even you, looks at your foot, the atoms instantly coalesce into the foot-like shape you’re familiar with. Of course, this is an extreme example. We know that once trillions of atoms bind together to make up everyday objects, like your foot, they stop behaving in a weird spread-out way but no one really knows when and how they switch from one state to the other. The point is, it seems arbitrary where we draw the line between the strangeness of the atomic realm and the commonsense world of our senses.
I thought about this for many years and became more and more convinced that there was a way to clear old emotional patterns on an atomic level through light and sound frequency and that we are not stuck with the imprinting of our ancestral journey, but how?
If ideas like this make your head hurt, don’t worry. Even Albert Einstein, who as a young man pioneered atomic physics, was horrified by the idea that we somehow “invent” the Universe every time we look at it. He said: “I like to think that the Moon is there even if I am not looking at it.”