How Flashes Deep Within the Atom Reflect the Life We’re Hungry For
July 16, 2017
I’ve been mulling it over — this line I saw recently and can’t remember where.
Mulling it over while dragging sprinkler hoses across hot grass lawns, while driving kids to appointments and swim lessons, and every time I curl up beside family and friends while stretching summer long. Iced coffee cubes crash against condensed glass, dripping summer’s heat across bare legs.
“How we spend our days is how we spend our lives.”
And the audacity of it lingers in my brain this week. In moments and days that crash by, dripping lost to the ground, this claim that we can choose, can order, can decide to step fully into each moment and to control how we live our lives is brash, bold.
|Photo credit: Flickr user Robert Couse-Baker, Creative Commons cc license|
I love it, and the science of atoms flashes to my mind. In a textbook years ago, I read about the wild, intricate behaviors of protons, neutrons, and electrons within an atom.
Inside the nucleus is a flurry of activity where protons and neutrons exchange tiny particles called pions in a frenzy of energy. Electromagnetically, like charges repel each other. Protons, as positively-charged aspects of the atom, should repel each other, like same-sided magnets do. Yet, mysteriously, they don’t.
Bewildered scientists wondered for years why the protons’ positive charges didn’t repel each other and explode. They knew there must be a strong force holding everything together, but didn’t know what. Experiments and observations hinted at the existence of this strong force, but not much was known until the 1930s and 40s, when scientists confirmed the existence and nature of this strong force, the strongest force in creation.
Do you know what thrills me about this force?
This strongest force in creation, this strong force that overrules normal magnetism and is stronger than gravity… this strong force in science reminds me of the Three-in-One God. Protons and neutrons are huddled so closely in the nucleus of the atom because they are giving of themselves.
Taking part of themselves to manufacture pion particles, they give sacrificially to each other. Over and over they break off part of themselves and give to the other. In what reminds me of sacrificial love, there is a frenzy of breaking and making and giving and receiving, and breaking and making and receiving. Pions flash as gifts that last for a brief instant, then are gone.
Giving of themselves to each other, they are wrapped intricately close. This — the strongest force in the world– is woven so tightly that all other natural laws of magnetism, poles, and gravity are broken, and in the center of the atom, unseen by the world, protons and neutrons give of themselves and hand off themselves as endlessly-given gifts to each other. And it’s the strongest force in science.
Want to live the life you’re hungry for? This strong force, this endless breaking and making and giving…
Who knew it was modeled in pions deep within atoms?
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(Adapted from an archived post of mine.)