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Author Topic: Is stuff endlessly divisible?  (Read 2531 times)

Offline neilep

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Is stuff endlessly divisible?
« on: 12/12/2007 19:11:02 »
Dear Divideologists,

See this grain of sand ?



Nice isn't it ?....notice how magnified & solo it is ?...that's because it's the smallest thing ever !!!


...BUT.....This is a bit hard to grasp  !!....I've been told that ewe can get things smaller than a ' sand'...yeah right !! ::).....

..but...if this is the case...then how small can small get ?....can one keep dividing a small thing in two indefinitely ?

I am trying to fathom such a thing but then I realized I'm just a sheep !

Can ewe help ?....Is stuff endlessly divisible?





 

another_someone

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Is stuff endlessly divisible?
« Reply #1 on: 12/12/2007 19:47:51 »
That is why the ancient Greek philosophers came up with the notion of the atom - they decided, totally arbitrarily, that there must be some point at which things could not be subdivided, and considered this to be an atom.

Then some scientists came along and decided they had found the indivisible of all things, and called it an atom.  Then some other scientists came along and proved that the atom could be subdivided, and so made nonsense of the word 'atom', since this thing was no longer atomic (in the Greek sense of the word).

As to whether there is a point where things can no longer be divided - it begs a great number of questions by what do you mean when you regard something as divisible?  For instance, scientists now believe that hadrons are composed of smaller particles called quarks, but they also believe that no single quark can ever be found on its own - so does that mean that a hadron is indivisible (in the sense that we cannot isolate the subdivision of it), or is it still divisible in that we can consider that it has those subdivisions even if they cannot be isolated?

Is it always the case that the subdivision of a thing need be smaller than the thing it is a subdivision of (this begs the question as to what is size)?  In quantum physics, we do not have sizes for particles, we only have sizes for the wave function of a particle, but the wave function for a sub-particle may actually be larger than the wave function for the whole particle.
 

Offline neilep

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Is stuff endlessly divisible?
« Reply #2 on: 12/12/2007 20:31:02 »
That is why the ancient Greek philosophers came up with the notion of the atom - they decided, totally arbitrarily, that there must be some point at which things could not be subdivided, and considered this to be an atom.

Then some scientists came along and decided they had found the indivisible of all things, and called it an atom.  Then some other scientists came along and proved that the atom could be subdivided, and so made nonsense of the word 'atom', since this thing was no longer atomic (in the Greek sense of the word).

As to whether there is a point where things can no longer be divided - it begs a great number of questions by what do you mean when you regard something as divisible?  For instance, scientists now believe that hadrons are composed of smaller particles called quarks, but they also believe that no single quark can ever be found on its own - so does that mean that a hadron is indivisible (in the sense that we cannot isolate the subdivision of it), or is it still divisible in that we can consider that it has those subdivisions even if they cannot be isolated?

Is it always the case that the subdivision of a thing need be smaller than the thing it is a subdivision of (this begs the question as to what is size)?  In quantum physics, we do not have sizes for particles, we only have sizes for the wave function of a particle, but the wave function for a sub-particle may actually be larger than the wave function for the whole particle.


THANK EWE GEORGE.....I feel this is a topic which may bring my head ache back on ?

Well, YES !..to the layman (or laysheep)...It is easy for me to assume that the subdivision of a thing needs be smaller than the thing it is a subdivision of......

(Unlike any of wifeys pies which just can not be divided ;))


I appreciate your answer and trust that you find my responses to your threads just as helpful !!.. ;)
 

Offline thebrain13

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Is stuff endlessly divisible?
« Reply #3 on: 12/12/2007 21:15:59 »
I think this question is like trying to answer the question, are there aliens in the universe? you can prove that there are aliens, but you can not prove that there aren't.

Likewise, you can not conclusively prove that you have found the most fundamental objects in the universe, even though some scientists would say they have. History has shown, the more powerfull our measuring techniques, the more "fundamental" particles we find.

General consensus would tell you that there are fundamental particles, called fermions for example, electrons, protons, neutrons etc. And then there are fundamental force carrying particles called bosons(not all have been measured) that make up the four forces, like the photon and the graviton.

However, its just my opinion, but I dont think anything any person has ever measured is a fundamental particle. I think our modern view of fundamental particles is just a temporary stand in for whenever we invent even more powerfull measuring techniques.

Philosophically speaking, I think that everything is divisible, everything is infinitely small, and no "zoo" of fundamental particles ever just popped into existence roughly 15 billion years ago. It's just way to arbitrary for me to accept that type of scenario.

Now, Im not trying to criticize the scientific community but I can see why people would favor a bumpy indivisible one over a smooth divisible scenario.

A. dealing with infinities destroys math.
B. its much easier to picture.
C. you dont have to explain to anyone, how wrong they have been their whole life, especially the advocates of other theories.
D. this is the big one, it would be super hard to come up with this type of theory.

The main reason is that the theory would rely on eveything else, there are too many things to relate to one another. You would have to explain things like why is a proton roughly 2000 times heavier than an electron and why is the charge opposite. And then your answer would have to relate to neutrons neutrinos etc. Where advocates of a fundamental indivisible theory have the luxury of saying, hey protons are that heavy because thats the way they were made when they randomly popped into existence 15 billion years ago.

So there you have it, believe what you will.
« Last Edit: 12/12/2007 21:23:08 by thebrain13 »
 

another_someone

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Is stuff endlessly divisible?
« Reply #4 on: 12/12/2007 23:09:45 »
I am increasingly of the opinion that the very notion of a particle, in any sense, is a red herring.

We are used to the concept of physical objects in the macroscopic world, but what does it actually mean in the quantum world?  We cannot 'see' particles in the quantum level world (in fact, it is not clear even what it means to 'see' something at the macroscopic level).  All we really know is that we have forces, and these forces have some point of focus (even what is a force is difficult, since the forces only become apparent when we have macroscopic manifestation of them, and we on extrapolate the microscopic).  We infer that this focus is a particle, some concept of a physical embodiment of the focal point - but what do we really know about this focal point?  Is there really any physical entity there at all, and need that physical entity have any notion of size at all (excepting that there is some area over which a force has its centre, but not necessarily that all forces associated with a particle must occupy the same region of space)?
 

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Is stuff endlessly divisible?
« Reply #4 on: 12/12/2007 23:09:45 »

 

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