What is the universe made of?
Curiosity is the spice of life. Literary Sunil Gangopadhyay once said this through the mouth of a vagabond Nillohit. People have been asking various questions since prehistoric times because of the taste of this spice. He has been trying to find the answer for thousands of years. Some of it matched, some are still unknown. Such a question: What is our universe made of?
In answer to this you may say, I, you, that brick, that brick, that stone, that stone, paper, polythene, moon, sun, planets, stars, etc. make up our universe. But there is a huge problem with this listing method. First, listing objects in this way will only make them longer and longer. But that list will never end. Because it has to add all the objects or substances in the world one by one. Even all the stars, all the planets, and satellites in the universe have to be added.
Again, the true answer to the question can not be found. In fact, we need an answer that can easily express the almost infinite variety of objects around us. It is for this purpose that the ancient Greek philosophers thought that there were four basic elements of the universe. They are fire, water, air, and soil. Indian philosophers of that time thought almost the same. According to them, the world is made up of five ghosts or elements: soil, water, energy, wind, and sky. This is called the Panchabhuta. When someone dies, it is called Panchataprapti. Because after death, the human body is merged with these five ghosts. Scholars in many East Asian countries, including China, also believed that the earth was made up of five elements. They are – water, fire, soil, wood, and metal.
However, as science has advanced, these have not been the main elements of the universe. The material world around us is made up of the smallest unit of matter. The ancient Greek philosophers called it atom or indivisible. That is to say, an atom is an object which cannot be broken when it is broken. Ancient Indian philosophers named this smallest unit of matter the atom. However, the fact that matter is really made up of atoms was proved in the early twentieth century. In 1905, a study by Albert Einstein, the father of the theory of relativity, found mathematical evidence for the existence of atoms. Later in reality its existence was also proved.
About 117 atoms have been discovered so far. Of these, 92 atoms are found naturally. These atoms are the smallest unit in our visible world. These atoms explain everything we’ve seen, touched, or tasted with hundreds of elementary particles.
However, more detailed research in the twentieth century has shown that the atom is not the last word. When an atom is broken down, protons, neutrons, and electrons are found. When protons and neutrons are broken down, smaller particles called quarks are found. This quark is now called the elementary particle of matter. Depending on the arrangement, three quarks are made up of protons or neutrons. Simply put, a proton is made up of two up quarks and one down quark. A neutron is formed by combining two down quarks and another quark. Protons and neutrons combine to form the nucleus of a small atom. And around them are tiny particle electrons in a state of rotation or clouds. This is how protons, neutrons, and electrons combine to make an atom. Of course, be aware that some force particles are involved. A molecule with a few atoms. This is how matter is formed, that is, our visible material world.
Then it turns out that it is possible to create any substance in the whole universe with just up quarks, down quarks, and electrons. That is, it is possible to make any atom in the periodic table of the element. These elemental particles are the structural unit of everything we have seen, touched, or tasted so far. We have acquired this knowledge through the labor and talent of millions of people over thousands of years. That is why we human beings can pat ourselves on the back once. If you want, you can slap your back once now.
But as well as being proud of this knowledge, we also need to know that our knowledge is still incomplete. Because in addition to the particles that are needed to form the molecules we know, some more particles have been discovered. Since the last century, particle physicists have discovered a total of 18 particles, including electrons, up and down quarks. Of these, six are quark particles: Up Quark, Down Quark, Strange Quark, Charm Quark, Bottom Quark, Tom Quark. The force particles are a photon, W boson, jade boson, gluon, Higgs-boson. There are also electrons, muons, tao, electron neutrino, muon neutrino, and tao neutrino. These six particles are called leptons. The standard model of particle physics is made up of all these particles. Just know that for the time being, the force particles exchange the ball between the other particles. For example, a gluon particle binds two quarks tightly to each other by exchanging balls between two quarks. That is why it is called the gluon. Just as glue sticks to two objects, so do glue particles to two quarks.
However, some of these particles are again quite bizarre. Such as spooky neutrino particles, which can travel billions of kilometers without colliding with any particle. The lead wall is also invisible to neutrinos.
Material particles can be formed with other quark particles, but they are much heavier. But our visible world is made up of up and down quarks and electrons and other force particles. The question is, then, what is the function of the particles of these extra quarks? Apart from these, do any other particles exist? We do not know the answer yet.
All the stars, planets, satellites, and comets in the universe are made up of only three elementary particles. Of course, there is a big mistake in this description. Needless to say, the smallest part of the universe is made up of just three elementary particles. This smallest part is called normal. Because this is the part we know and understand. And the amount of this normal part is only 5 percent. Physicists call this part Dark Energy. Scientists believe that the universe is constantly expanding because of this secret power. That is all we know. We don’t know anything else about Dark Matter and Dark Energy.
Let’s talk about the remaining 4.6 percent of the objects we know. There are many things in it that we do not know yet. For example: Suppose, what is the use of extra particles? In some cases, we do not even know the exact question through which these mysteries can be unraveled.
A while ago, we were patting ourselves on the back for the achievement of mankind. And now it turns out that a large part of the universe is still unknown to us. It’s as if we’ve been researching an elephant for thousands of years and suddenly found out that we’ve only been reading its tail for so long. The entire body of the elephant has yet to be discovered. Many may be disappointed to understand this. But there is nothing to despair about, but it can be seen as a much bigger opportunity. That is the opportunity to search and learn. If you ever know, we’ve only discovered about five percent of the world’s landmass. What to do then? Your inquisitive and adventurous mind will surely dance like Columbus when given the opportunity to explore and discover new lands.
History has shown that in the Middle Ages, adventurous adventurers risked their lives to explore new worlds. Such as Hiuen Tsang, Ibn Battuta, Vasco da Gama, Columbus, and many more. At one point they discovered new terrain. Even these unknown aspects of science can be compared to such expeditions and discoveries. There are now many opportunities to discover, through which we can discover many mysteries and unknowns of the universe. Of course, this discovery may change our outlook so far.
History has seen such incidents before. Revolutionary discoveries have already taken place in the world of science, which has caused us to abandon many previous ideas. For example, people once believed in the idea of a flat earth. But later, due to theoretical and factual evidence, people were forced to accept the idea of a round world. Similarly, people believed in the idea of an earth-centered universe. That idea also changed in the Middle Ages. The idea of absolute time or place also had to be abandoned because of Einstein’s theory of relativity. I had to give up a fictional idea called ether. Once upon a time, I thought of light and energy as uninterrupted waves. But because of quantum theory, we are now forced to think of energy as an isolated packet or particle.
So in the future maybe some other revolutionary discovery can change our current conception. Who knows, then maybe even the most accepted theory of relativity and the concept of quantum theory can be removed. The people of the future may then be surprised and think of our stupidity, just as we think of prehistoric cavemen. There is no end to mankind’s quest to understand the universe properly. Even then, we can expect these problems to be solved in our lifetime. And who can say that the solution will not be through you? So you too can take part in this discovery as a scientist. Welcome to the world of science.