God and the electron

God and the electron

“Everything we call real is made up of things that cannot be considered real. »

“Quantum mechanics is the most exact and mysterious of all physical theories. »

God is a first-rate mathematician, and he used very sophisticated mathematics to construct the Universe. »

We owe the first quotation to the illustrious physicist Niels Bohr (1885-1962). He laid the foundations of modern atomic physics and won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1922. As for the second, it comes from another giant of both mathematical and physical science. This is the immense Roger Penrose. Born in 1831 in England, he contributed to the theory of general relativity as well as to the modeling of black holes. Finally, the third quote is that of Paul Dirac (1902-1984).

A genius physicist, but also a mathematician, he had a profound impact on 20th century physics.th century by predicting the existence of antimatter and, in particular, that of the antielectron called positron. Remember that when antimatter and matter meet, they completely annihilate each other in a liberating explosion of light. Nobel Prize winner in physics in 1933, Paul Dirac was one of the precursors of quantum mechanics.

The presentations made, let us now see the link between these quotes, God and the electron. To do this, let’s start by recalling these facts about matter and its states. We all know, in fact, what a hot body is because we know what a cold body is, and vice versa. In the same way, we have the sensitive notion of what hard matter is, such as stone or metal, because we know on the contrary what soft matter is, such as modeling clay, to name but a few. than this example.

Same thing for a magnetic field whose intensity we see and feel when we bring a magnet close to an object containing iron. This is then attracted more or less strongly. As a result, and this is a fundamental point that we must understand: physicists in reality measure not the essence of a phenomenon but its variations or its effects.

To illustrate our point, let’s think of an apple. Without difficulty, we can characterize it by its shape, its color, its firmness, its temperature, its mass, its spatial extension, its location (fridge, table, stomach), etc. This apple, we know, is made up of a very large quantity of molecules which themselves are made up of atoms. As for the atom, it is a set of electrons “gravitating” around a nucleus whose constitution we will examine below.

Now consider the electron. This particle is called elementary because it is composed only of itself and nothing else. In other words, the electron has no internal structure, unlike the molecule or the atom. But since the electron is composed of nothing but itself, what exactly is it? Being devoid of substructure, the very notions of shape, temperature, intimately linked to molecular agitation in matter, etc., are emptied of their substance. As a result, the electron is neither “hard”, nor “soft”, nor hot, nor cold, etc.

In short, it is absolutely indefinable in terms of our senses because its physical reality totally escapes us. He is an absolute mystery. This is where the first of the three quotes takes on its full meaning: Everything we call real is made up of things that cannot be considered real. » And yet, the electron does exist! That’s not all. Because with the advent of quantum mechanics, a major branch of physics which describes the infinitely small world of which the electron is a part, the mystery thickens even further. And for good reason, because by virtue of the principle of superposition of states, a foundation of quantum mechanics, the electron can be simultaneously in several places at the same time! This particle therefore has the gift of ubiquity. And this is in no way an illusion. Numerous experiments have largely established this puzzling reality.

Furthermore, it has been observed many times in the laboratory that the electron has a dual personality: sometimes it behaves like a particle, sometimes like a wave. Also, we speak of wave-particle duality to describe the very strange behavior of the electron. Other “oddities”, which it would take too long to describe here, make quantum mechanics a most disconcerting branch of modern physics with innumerable applications.

These include lasers, DVD players, medical imaging, semiconductors, etc. It is therefore not in vain that the very renowned physicist Roger Penrose formulated the second quote in these terms: Quantum mechanics is the most exact and mysterious of all physical theories. » Winner of the Nobel Prize in 1965 for his work in quantum electrodynamics, Richard Feyman (1918-1988), a brilliant and passionate physicist, went further by saying, in a slightly provocative tone, that physicists don’t understand much to quantum mechanics: I think it’s safe to say that no one understands quantum mechanics ».

Let us now return to the electron, which is not the only particle to be endowed with these properties that defy common sense. In truth, this is the case for all particles in the world of the infinitely small since they are all subject, without exception, to the laws of quantum mechanics. The fact remains that the electron has another characteristic which makes it an absolutely unique particle: its electric charge of value -1. This miraculously adjusts to that of the proton which is worth +1. Reason why the fundamental building blocks of matter, atoms, made up of an atomic nucleus made of neutrons (devoid of electrical charges) and protons, are electrically neutral and, therefore, we do not get electrocuted not when we touch everyday objects.

As for protons and neutrons, they are made up of elementary particles: the up and down quarks which we note respectively u and d. These elementary particles, like the electron, appeared, according to the standard model of cosmology, immediately after the BIG-BANG which occurred approximately 13.7 billion years ago. The u quark has a fractional electric charge worth +2/3.

The d quark has a negative electric charge equal to -1/3. And every proton is made up of two u quarks and one d quark. This explains why, when we add up the electric charges of the particles making up the proton (2/3 + 2/3 – 1/3 = 3/3 = 1), we find the value +1, i.e. EXACTLY the one opposite to the charge of the electron which is worth -1. And here we touch upon the absolute miracle of the electron!

Because how can we explain that the BIG-BANG produced the u and d quarks with diabolically adjusted electric charges allowing the formation of protons with an electric charge of +1 counterbalancing that, negative and of value -1, of the electrons. Because it is important to understand that if the u and d quarks had not had this happy idea of ​​equipping themselves with these electric charges, matter, as we know it today, would NEVER have been able to develop. . And as a result, no water molecules, no life, no human beings…

However, the electric charge of the electron could have taken any value among an infinite number of others. We can therefore rightly speak of a miracle. And the word is not too strong. Let us illustrate our point with the game of Loto. Those who play it know that the number of possible combinations is very high. But they still play because, despite everything, this number of combinations is not infinite. So, the probability of winning, although very low, is not zero. In the case that concerns us, that is to say that of the electron, there were infinite possibilities of choice regarding the value of its electric charge.

And it is the good “combination”, if we can express it that way, which is “out”, namely -1. Which, in terms of probability, corresponds to an impossible event due to the infinite number of possible choices for the value of the electric charge of the electron. In light of what has just been said, we better understand the meaning of the third quote, that of the physicist Paul Dirac: God is a first-rate mathematician, and he used very sophisticated mathematics to construct the Universe. » Without the help of “external action”, or a helping hand to be more explicit, the electron could not have appeared from nothing with this electric charge of value -1 thanks to which matter could be formed.

We are therefore faced with a physical object, the electron, whose existence defies common sense to the extent that its essence is completely inaccessible to the human brain because we do not know what it is made of. Furthermore, what entity, inert or living, except God, can claim to possess this incredible power of being simultaneously in several places?

Finally, the value, more than enigmatic, of its electric charge can be considered as an absolutely conclusive sign of the existence of God because chance cannot explain this value. So, from a statistical point of view, the probability that the electron emerged, immediately after the BIG-BANG, with the correct electric charge, that is to say -1, is strictly zero. This is therefore a statistically impossible event in the mathematical sense of the term.

Is there not something akin to the divine in the electron, if we define the divine as being the inexplicable? The electron speaks to us. And he tells us this: examine me and you will see a trace of God “. Yes, physics is not just the study of matter. It is also a path leading to God.