Mass From Fields
If everything in existence is made up of atoms, and
atoms are made up of protons, neutrons, and electrons, and these
particles are made up of solid energy, then what is this energy
made of? Doesn't this count in the realm of "everything in
existence"? Where does energy lie in existence, and how does it
make up something that makes up everything else? Shouldn't the
atoms make up the energy then, logically? Is this a paradox of
science or simply confusing?
You are OK except for the part about "everything in existence is made up
of atoms." It is not, as you have concluded. In addition, astronomers
now believe that most of the mass in the universe is composed of "dark
matter" which interacts with gravity but not light, so it cannot be made
of atoms. Even fairly prosaic astronomical objects like neutron stars
are not made of atoms. So you do not have a paradox on your hands, just a
Department of Physics and Astronomy
University of Wyoming
You have hit upon a difficult problem in particle physics. Yes
"things" are made of atoms, ..., etc. But energy and mass are > equivalent forms --
E=mc^2-- but therein lies the problem. As the world gets "smaller"
our usual laws of matter and mechanics fails us and in order to "get
the correct" predictions about how tiny matter behaves, one must use
quantum mechanics, which really introduces many non-intuitive
concepts, such as particle / wave duality. That is tiny "things"
have the characteristics of both particles and waves depending upon
how they are viewed. Particles, if manipulated properly, and
separated by distances exceeding the speed of light can "remember"
the properties of its partner, which is quite weird and
non-intuitive, but in fact that is what occurs. At a certain level,
where we have no direct experience to provide intuition, it is
necessary to follow the mathematical scaffolding and let it take us
where it does. Only after we have experience in the weird world do
we develop intuition. I wish this "explanation" could be less
confusing, but that is the way Nature behaves.
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Update: June 2012