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The smallest possible thing in the universe?

atom universe smallest zeno andy parker

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#1    Still Waters

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Posted 03 September 2012 - 02:09 PM

Science's ongoing quest to find the smallest possible things remains tantalisingly incomplete, as physicist Prof Andy Parker explains.

Physics has a problem with small things. Or, to be more precise, with infinitely small things.

We imagine that we can move any distance we like, no matter how small.

This perception was exploited by Zeno in one of his famous paradoxes. Achilles could never actually get anywhere since the distance he would have to cover could be halved an infinite number of times - halfway there, halfway again, and so on. He would have to take an infinite number of ever-smaller steps to reach his goal.

Mathematicians have explained this apparent paradox, and are completely comfortable with infinite numbers, as well as infinitely small distances and objects. Their answers are used in physics to describe the world inside the atom.


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#2    Eldorado



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Posted 03 September 2012 - 02:13 PM

The Blonde Brain or Lawyer's Heart.  (only joking)

Nice article, SW.  The paradox will do my head in all day now.  Thank you. :)

#3    StarMountainKid



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Posted 03 September 2012 - 03:04 PM

Good article, as always. It demonstrates we're far from a complete understanding of nature.

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A mind untouched by thought...the end of knowledge.
To see reality loose your opinions.

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