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Essential Elements

1 IntroductIon Pretty much all that we see or touch in our seemingly solid world is made from squintillions of tiny atoms. Combining to form the fantastic mosaic that is the visible universe, each atom is one of over one hundred unique types of element. If we peer closely at an individual atom, the first astonishment is that it is mainly empty space. Fizzball electrons spin complex webs around a central nucleus, a tiny point in the middle of a galaxy of whirling energy. Even here we are just scratching the surface beyond are worlds where the rules are very strange indeed, where solidity seems to have little meaning and matter comes in waves. Zooming in, we notice that these knottings may themselves be aggregates of ever more ephemeral wisps. The most intriguing zones live on the very edges of our understanding, dark matter that pervades the whole of spacetime and the little neutrinos that zip past so fast we mainly miss them, wholesome stable quark nuggets. All are players in this great game of life, acts of consciousness interlacing and resonating through the all that is. Most of all I hope you, dear reader, will enjoy this brief journey into the deep and wonderful world of matter. May we use the extraordinary knowledge we now possess with wisdom and understanding in the millennia ahead.
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