The Atom – building blocks of nature
Atoms are the basic building blocks of nature. The understanding of the atom has gone through exiting steps and we will explore the main ones.
“Atom” comes from átomos (Greek “ἄτομος”, from α-, “un-” + τέμνω – temno, “to cut”), which means uncuttable, or indivisible, something that cannot be divided further.
India – Kanāda and Vedic philosophy
Vaisheshika / Vaisesika (Sanskrit: वैशॆषिक, IAST Vaiśeṣika), is one of the six Hindu schools of philosophy, the Vedic system of India. It was related to the Hindu school of logic, Nyaya. The Vaisesika classifies in categories and says that all in the universe can be reduced to a given number of atoms. Kanāda is considered to be the founder and author of the Vaishesika Sutra (Full text at archive.org).
Kanāda says every object of creation is made of atoms (parmanu) which in turn connect and form molecules (anu). Sources disagree with the time Kanāda lived some say in the 6th century BCE some around the 2nd century BCE.
Greece – Democritus and Greek philosophy
The Greek Democritus (C 460- c 370 BC) is the one that got the fame for having discovered the atom. He mentions many Greek philosophers in his writings. Democritus inherited wealth and could travell and he purchased many writings of other philosophers. The theory of the atom is believed he got from Leucippus that influenced Democritus, but the very existence of Leucippus has been the subject of disagreement between scholars, even amongst the old Greeks themselves.
Democritus claimed that the properties of things were determined by the shape of its atoms. Sweet things had smooth atoms while bitter things are made up of sharp atoms. Not strange in the context of the stage of mathematics at that time in history and the preoccupation with geometry and shapes. Plato and Euclid were younger contemporaries.
If it was Kanāda, Leucippus or Democritus or somebody else who first put forward the concept is uncertain. Some even say the Greeks got the idea from the Egyptians. The god of creation standing between the nothing and the something Atum, also spelled Atom, is even said to be the source of the word atom. Ph.D. George G. M. James in his “Stolen Legacy: Greek Philosophy is Stolen Egyptian Philosophy” show how the concept of the god Atum ”the all and the not yet being” represent the principle of opposites as Democritus talks about the atom as ”movement of that which is” (To on) within ”that which is not” (To me on). James also makes arguments for the transliteration of the Egyptian word into Greek. If one is to accept this as the beginning of the concept of an atom it goes back to 4000 BC.
According to René Adolphe Schwaller de Lubicz (1887–1961) Egyptian gods, or Neteru (pl. – one Neter) as they are called were regarded as principles in nature, more than personifications. Personally I think it was both, as if the Egyptians were still in connection with a deeper layer of consciousness that is collective and is beyond both our awareness and the manifestations in nature.
Kanāda connected his atomic theory with the element and spoke of fire atoms and water atoms etc.
Dalton – Atoms as balls
The next mayor step in the understanding of atoms came from the English chemist, physicist, meteorologist, Quaker and mystic John Dalton (6 September 1766 – 27 July 1844). The earliest mention of the idea came from his work on the absorption of gases (read on 21 October 1803, published):
Why does not water admit its bulk of every kind of gas alike? This question I have duly considered, and though I am not able to satisfy myself completely I am nearly persuaded that the circumstance depends on the weight and number of the ultimate particles of the several gases.
Dalton said elements are made of small atoms, and each atom of an element have the same size, mass, and other properties, while atoms of other elements are different. Atoms cannot be divided, or crushed. They are the building blocks and combine as a whole unit with other atoms to make the different compounds. Chemical reactions are combining, separating or changing the structure of the earlier compounds. Dalton also suggested a “rule of greatest simplicity”, but with the lack of experiments that could confirm it, it was controversial. It is likely to believe his mystical inclined mind was looking for a unified simplicity at the basis of nature.
He also regarded Hydrogen to be the unit = 1, which fits well with modern physics.
So far atoms are dense balls of different size and weight.
J.J. Thomson – electrons as raisins in the pudding
Sir Joseph John Thomson (18 December 1856 – 30 August 1940) discovered in 1897 that cathode rays were composed of an unknown particle. Calculations showed it to be much smaller than the atoms. Compared to its small size it had a very high negative electric charge. The first subatomic particle, the electron was discovered.
This made it necessary to have both positive and negative parts in the atom and the “pudding model” became the updated atom.
Rutherford – gold foil and the nucleus
The famous experiment by Rutherford, where the thinnest layer of gold foil was bombarded with alpha particles to measure the gold atoms – the gold puddings – resulted in discovering the void. Basically he rarely hit anything, most particles went straight through.
The nucleus was discovered and we got a centre with some far off satellites as electrons.
Niels Bohr – complementarity and levels
Niels Bohr discovered those electrons to move in energy levels and that they had a complementary nature as either showing themselves as particles or waves.
This can be difficult to understand, but let us make an analogy. Imagine you have a sheet of paper that you hold up in the air so that electrons going through the paper can create holes. If it is the particle side that goes through it creates a triangular hole if it is the wave nature a circular hole. By the end you have, lets say 50% of each. You conclude from the paper and its holes that reality consists of two things; triangles and circles. Then Bohr says; but imagine they are cones! If they go through with bottom or top they create a circular hole, if side vice the hole becomes triangular. Reality does not consist of triangles and circles but of cones. By going up from a two-dimensional plane to three dimensions, two different things become one and the same. But particles and waves are not flat, so the unification does not become three dimensional but at least four dimensional.
This might just confirm how the atom with time has started to challenge our perception, but we know that is is more unified in its particle-wave aspects than first thought.
Now the atom became like a solar system with a sunny nucleus and electron-planets circling around. The exception would be that more than one planet orbited in the same circle, but still it was a model of the micro cosmos that fitted with the macro cosmos. This model is still what many people believe, learn and teach.
But the modell has advanced more steps. Compare each level or orbital to a surface on a huge ball. With balls around balls, like the Russian Matrjosjka dolls. Imagine each surface of the balls to be a sea that is constantly pulsating. The inner ball pulsates with 1, the next ball is an octave and pulsates with 2, the third a quint and pulsates with 3, the next is an octave of the first octave, the fifth and sixth etc. all increase its waves with one wave length.
The electrons would be the white froth at the top of waves appearing and disappearing from one place to another, without moving from one place to the other. Like a musical note that has a constant sound and a few times additionally sparks up with a flash. The flashes would always amount to a set number in each ball and when one disappears another one appears at one other spot, but it does not move from spot to spot.
Schrödinger – The periodic table and quantum physics
Schrödinger turned the whole periodic table, all the atoms in the universe into mathematics. With equations and four variables he was able to explain all the building blocks or atoms. In many ways this is the most completed understanding in nature with big certainty and good descriptions. As soon as we enter the world of living things we become much more uncertain and different opinions take place one after the other or play against each other.
The atom with Schrödinger is similar but the surface of the balls turn into foggy mist
We can say that with the four variables and a few simple rules basically to explain that each atom is different than another in one way or the other, the principles or laws behind the atoms are simply and beautifully explained. With Schrødinger and his quantum numbers the atoms entered the world of quantum physics and probabilities.
Atom has changed from a geometric solid where shape was believed to carry qualities as taste and colour, into balls of different size and weight. Different shapes became one ball, turning to puddings, from puddings to minute solar systems where particles and waves became one wave-particle. And then into foggy mists that sparkle particles or wave tops almost like a person calling to different friends around the world and make their phone screen brighten up.
The solid ball atom has lost its materiel aspect, but the very small and extremely frequent appearance of “particles” creates a feeling, a perception of a solid surface. If we diminished over selves to the size of an atom, matter would disappear and a sparkling ghost would be the only thing left. It is the same as if you magnify the picture in a paper you would disappear between small coloured dots. Or if you have seen people with banners on a stadiun creating different colourful images, they might appear smooth and connected from distance but are just separated fragments.
The micro cosmos is quantified, but the driving force behind it is not. It is only our perception that is limited. We see circles and triangles where there are ghostly cones. The phenomenon we sense are more connected than our mind is able to perceive.
As we go deeper and deeper into matter it disappear in front of us, it becomes a sparkling fire or a potential energy that incarnates in a split second to excarnate in the next. The atom is like a ghost that comes and goes. Behind every material manifestation there is a ghost.
Most of the old cultures used a decimal numeral system, based on 10 as we use today. There are a few exceptions based on 12, 20 (maya) or 60 (babylonians), but having 10 fingers it is quite natural that 10 has become the mostly used system of counting.
I just came back from my last seminar in Helsinki, Finland were I shared my studies into the common roots of the old classical cultures.
One thing which many of the old cultures share is the understanding of a ladder or sequence from the highest to the lowest in 10 stages. A hierarchy from God to Man in ten steps.
Jacob’s Dream by William Blake (c. 1805, British Museum, London)
The Chinese described it through the 10 heavenly stems and in the Buddhist tradition we have The Ox Herding Pictures. In Egypt we have the Creation Myth of Heliopolis (On in Egyptian). There are many more examples.
Of all these traditions the Kabbalah explains and describes these stages into an elaborate degree of detail and precision. Here we see the sequence in the Tree of Life.
The Tree of Life also describes this sequence as going through 4 worlds. These correspond from above downwards to the 4 elements.
In the Kabbalah these worlds describe creation as a process of condensation of moving from pure energy into matter. The upper triangle is the triangle of fire and points upwards, it is regarded as separated from the rest of the Tree by an abyss. A symbol of how this upper world of God belongs to a higher order, a level above the rest of creation. The abyss is to explain the huge spiritual distance.
The next two triangles are pointing downwards, the upper is of air and the lower of water. The uppermost triangle of fire is the source of creation, constantly emitting into the others in sequence.
The air triangle represents the world where the creative power becomes organized into archetypical principals then these condense even more in the next stage and start the formation of shapes in the triangle of water.
At the bottom we have the worldly kingdom the material earth. Here the archetypical principles that got form in the water world becomes materialized.
In the Kabbalah each of the ten Sephiroth represents and aspect of God with a hierarchy of different angelic beings in each. Angels (Cherubim) are the kind closest to us and take part in many aspects of our life, most important is the gathering of people into a higher degree of coherence a higher holonity. The next level, the archangels (Bnei Elohim) give us light and guidance on the path. Principalities (Elohim) are above the archangels they work with us on a even more energetic level and drive our development and evolution. They make us grow in their garden of human souls. In this garden we grow towards the spiritual aspect of the sun, where we have the malachim or kings, they cultivate virtues in us. And the sequence follows all the way to God where the seraphim eternally prays the creator in his holiness with singing “holy, holy holy”.
If we look at the Lords prayer it shows the same understanding. We will take it from Sephira to Sephira from the top to the bottom of the Tree of Life.
It starts with the upper triangle of God with:
Kether: Our Father
Chochmah: who art in heaven
Binah: hallowed be thy name.
Then it moves to the connection of God or Heaven and Earth
Chesed: Thy kingdom come.
Geburah: Thy will be done
on earth as it is in heaven.
Tiphereth: Give us this day our daily bread
Then it moves to the water triangle and interhuman realm:
Netzach: and forgive us our trespasses,as we forgive those who trespass against us,
Hod: and lead us not into temptation,
Yesod: but deliver us from evil.
Then we have the doxology, that is added later:
“For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen“
Malkuth is the kingdom
Yesod gives power – Gabriel = Powerful God
Hod is glory
Netzach means eternity
Amen would be Tiphereth.
The symbol of joining both hands is also a nice way to say 1 = 10 and 10 = 1
Or God is all and mans union with God returns him to oneness.
If we compare this with the commandments.
The upper trigon:
I am the Lord thy God,
Kether: Thou shalt have no other gods before me
Chochmah: Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image
Binah: Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain
The upper air trigon:
Chesed: Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy
Geburah: Honor thy father and thy mother
Tiphereth: Thou shalt not murder
The water trigon:
Netzach: Thou shalt not commit adultery
Hod: Thou shalt not steal
Yesod: Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor
Malkuth: Thou shalt not covet (Neighbors house, wife, servants, animals or anything else)
This same structure we find in many of the old traditions.
In the creational myth of Heliopolis in Egypt Atum (Amun) created from within himself Shu and Tefnut.
The three together represent the highest triangle.
Then Shu and Tefnut got Nut and Geb. The upper part of the air triangle, representing the gods of heaven and earth.
They got Osiris, Isis, Nephtys and Set.
Representing Tiphereth, Yesod, Netzach and Hod.
Finally Osiris and Isis got Horus (Malkuth).
There are many more examples to illustrate how all this cultures discovered the same path and stages from man to God. One day I will share more of them with you.