Monday, April 2, 2012

A to Z: "A" as in Atoms

Did you know there are 67 octillion atoms in the average human body? Isn't that incredible? Now, I may be a bit on the short side, but the fact is there's a great deal of...stuff...that goes into making me, me.

Then the other day I read that atoms are mostly "empty" space. This statement was then followed by a high discussion of just what "empty" means, in regards to atomical space. From what I understand, "empty" in this instance means somethign more along the lines of "inaccessible," that is, by other atoms, because of quantum whositwhatsits. But that was all beyond me, frankly, and much less interesting. 

They have these scanning tunneling microscropes (STMs) that can recreate supposedly accurate images of things like DNA strands and atoms. Here's a reconstruction of a bunch of silicon atoms:

Image courtesy of:

Know what those sort of remind me of (pardon me; know of what those remind me?)? 

Ever since I was little--usually when I can't sleep because it seems to work best at night or with my eyes closed--if I let my eyes go unfocused and just looked at the air, very vaguely, you understand, I begin to see little dots that kind of shiver back in forth. Never lasts very long; I always lose the dots if I try to follow them; focus on them. They remind me a lot of that photo, minus the computer-added coloring. Vague jumbled up dots that kinda bump into each other. Now let's face it: I'm probably just weird, or have weird eyeballs, a hecitc imagination--something. Maybe it's some kind of after-image effect. But how cool would it be if that were me somehow, for a matter of a milisecond or whatnot, actually seeing atoms? (Does anyone else know what I'm talking about? Tell me if you do!)

That'd we wicked. Highly unlikely, I understand. But very wicked. Anyway...

I digress. Allow me to return. There are 67 octillion atoms in your body, and those atoms are as empty as the atoms that make up the air you breathe. I find that sort of thing just...yeah, well, incredible. So much, and yet so little. You are a walking sack of 67 octillion nothing-filled atoms. Just so you know.


  1. Sweet! And I totally know what you're talking about. When I was little saw those little dots and heard repetive melodies. I just don't know where the music came from. ;)

    Atoms are sorta like a novel. Word by word they build something. So you write a novel, atom by atom.

  2. Thank goodness! But yeah, I didn't hear melodies, hmm...Wonder if they're connected at all for the majority of people. The people who know what we're talking about, that is.

    What a good point! Atoms are to words as a body of atoms is to a novel. Sounds like an AP test. lol.