Wednesday, 28 September 2016

99.9999999% of your body is empty space

It might humble you to know that all of those things — your friends, your office, your really big car, you yourself, and everything in this incredible, vast universe — are almost entirely, 99.9999999%, empty space.
Here's the deal:  the size of an atom is governed by the average location of its electrons — how much space there is between the nucleus and the atom's amorphous outer shell. Nuclei are around 100,000 times smaller than the atoms they're housed in.
If the nucleus were the size of a peanut, the atom would be about the size of a baseball stadium. If we lost all the dead space inside our atoms, we would each be able to fit into a particle of dust, and the entire human race would fit into the volume of a sugar cube.

So then where does all of our mass come from?
At a pretty basic level, we're all made of atoms, which are made of electrons, protons, and neutrons. And at an even more basic — or perhaps the most basic — level, those protons and neutrons, which hold the bulk of our mass, are made of a trio of fundamental particles called quarks.
But, as I explained in Symmetry, the mass of these quarks accounts for just a tiny percentage of the mass of the protons and neutrons. And gluons, which hold these quarks together, are completely massless.
A lot of scientists think that almost all the mass of our bodies comes from the kinetic energy of the quarks and the binding energy of the gluons.

So if all of the atoms in the universe are almost entirely empty space, why does anything feel solid? 


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