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Seeing the Smallest Thing in the Universe

Seeing the Smallest Thing in the Universe


Have you ever looked
through a microscope? It’s a very different
world from ours. But this is what
makes up our world. Those are cells in your lungs. Well, that makes you wonder
what makes of this world? What would it look
like if you zoomed in even farther to the
individual molecules that make up these cells? We didn’t know until 2009, when
a single molecule was imaged for the first time
at atomic resolution, and it looks like this. Those lines, those are
bonds you’re seeing, bonds between the atoms. Obviously, bonds don’t
look like green smears anymore than these meerkats
look like this in visible light. But that’s the thing. This image was not made
with visible light. In fact, this
molecule is invisible. It’s too small to be
resolved with visible light. All light waves have
a wavelength, right. And at the microscopic
level, that light, like this blue light
here, reflects off of things that are about the
same size as that wavelength, like this cholera. So that’s the issue here. Despite how small
visible light is, you could fit 350
of these molecules in one wavelength of blue light. And we know that atoms are even
smaller than these molecules. And atoms have electrons
and protons and neutrons. And protons have quarks. How far down can we keep going? Let’s zoom back
out for a second. We couldn’t image this
molecule with visible light. But to be honest, we couldn’t
even resolve these cells with visible light. Instead, this image was
made with electrons. It works like this. Imagine I’m trying to figure
out what this frog looks like. I can throw small things at
it, and they’ll bounce off in different directions. And some pass by, and you
get the outline of a frog. That’s how a scanning
electron microscope works. It images things
like this pollen. It operates on the weird
quantum mechanical principle that all particles
can act like waves. And the faster the particle,
the smaller the wavelength, which allows us to see
down to smaller scales. If I tried to image
this with visible light that has a much
bigger wavelength, it just wouldn’t work. Answering the original question,
scanning electron microscopes have seen down to half a
nanometer, which is still not small enough to see an atom. But in 2013, scientists
imaged a single hydrogen atom for the first time using
photo ionization microscopy. Well, sort of. What you’re seeing here
is the electrons’ wave function or the probability of
finding it in different parts. It’s kind of like making
a picture like this. This atomic portrait
is the smallest picture we’ve ever taken at the
limit of what we’ve been able to see with microscopes. So that’s as far as we can go? With imaging, yes. But we can always smash stuff. Particle colliders are one
of the more unusual ways that scientists probe small
scales, smashing particles together since the 1960s. Particle colliders use that same
quantum mechanical principle, that fast-moving particles
have smaller wavelengths. And of course, particles
smashing together are generally going pretty fast. So these particle colliders,
weird as they are in concept, work extremely well. For one, in 1968,
we discovered what makes up protons and neutrons. We discovered quarks. And we discovered that
quarks are never alone. When you try to
separate two of them, you have to put
in so much energy that by the mass
energy equivalence, you’d create two new quarks
that bind to the original two. Yeah, quarks are awesome. These are the types of
experiments going on at the Large Hadron Collider
in Geneva, Switzerland. That’s the giant
collaboration going on between over 100 countries
and 10,000 scientists. It has cost over $13 billion. That’s like eight trips to
the moon by some estimates. The LHC takes tiny
particles, like protons, and smashes them together
so hard that they explode. We measure the pieces and
recreate where they came from to figure out more about the
structure of these particles. This method of
smashing particles together is so effective
that, in 2013, we discovered a new particle, one
that had only been theorized previously, the Higgs Boson. It led to the confirmation
of many aspects of particle theory, as well as a Nobel
Prize for Peter Higgs. So let’s keep going. What is a quark made of? Well, as far as we can
tell, they have no size. That is, they have no structure. We’ve peered down into
a quark as far as 10 to the minus 19
meters, and we’ve seen nothing, no indication
of smaller components. The same is true of
electrons and neutrinos. These are all
elementary particles. And as far as we’ve
been able to measure, they are as small as it gets. Is it possible that
they have no size? Perhaps. Maybe, they are literally point
particles with zero dimension. But this creates issues
of infinite forces as you get closer and
closer to the particles. String theory has proposed a
solution to these infinities, that the particles
are made of one dimensional loops or strings. That way, some parts of
the string are closer and some are further away as
you approach the particle. And your problem of
infinities disappears. And how small are these
theoretical strings? Around the size of
the Planck length, which is, in theory, the
shortest measurable length in the universe. It is 10 to the minus 35 meters. That’s 100 quintillion
times smaller than a proton. Of course, this scale is
not very useful to us. If you asked my height,
I’d have to tell you I’m 107 billion
septillion Planck links, or just 172 centimeters. But we’re nowhere near
measuring those distances. The LHC is turning
on again in 2015. And with more and more
energy in its particle beams, we’ll be able to see at
smaller and smaller scales than we ever have before. And perhaps someday, we’ll be
able to measure the smallest distance in the universe.

100 thoughts on “Seeing the Smallest Thing in the Universe

  1. Anyone else frustrated that when a woman makes scientific explanation videos, so many comments are about what she looks like… :/

  2. I dont think we can do that. Now i could be wrong, but i think the energy it takes to see down that small is so great that the object you are observing becomes a black hole.

  3. Why planks length maths has to give theorized proof for that number in cubic solutions set. Somewhat related to number phi and constraints imposed in number theory. You can take any unit like meters foot or other units of length. An other hint is 2. Something and nothing.

  4. Excuse me miss you're so so so so so cute so loveliest I've ever seen.your explanation sensibility extra pretty with lot of, lot of fun

  5. Interesting how the smashing of particles looks like the Laniakea structure.
    Think about that for a minute. All those microscopic galactic filaments with a small chance of life blossoming in a billionth of a second and suddenly extinguished.

  6. My theory is that you don’t have to have infinite smallness if the smallest object is a ENERGY FORCE rather than matter.

  7. Suppose you illuminate a small object with ultraviolet light, with a frequency 3 times that of green visible light. That is supposed to be able to resolve objects 1/3 the size of what visible light can, right? Now suppose you mix the reflected UV light with another beam of UV, this one just 2 times the frequency of visible green light. It should produce sum and difference frequencies at 5x and 1x visible green light. The 1x difference frequency is visible light, so could that be directly observed? Sent through lenses or an optical microscope for a closer look? Could such a set-up resolve objects smaller than what could be seen directly in visible light?

  8. Strings yes strings, that's what we'll be seeing at the most smallest level in the universe!!! In the near future no doubt……..I don't know if it'll be in our life time…

  9. this makes a loop… the things made up of quarks are made up of things, then those things are made up of other things, the the other things are made up of more things, then the list goes on!

  10. I was a bit confused with your height in planq's: did you mean 107, billion, septillion, or should it have been; 172, billion, septillion, meaning there is exactly a billion septillion planq's in a centimetre… -10 to the power of thirty nine meters is a lot of noughts and hard to enumerate in thousands of millions, let alone envisage as an actual distance!

  11. We got better science but we never got a better heart. In 6,000 years of history there are only 200 years without wars.  All this knowledge will be used to build new weapons and untimely destroy our planet. Jesus will come back commanding a fleet of starships. He will reset our planet, clean all the destruction and stablish a kingdom. No countries, no elections, no banks, etc…The Bible is not a religious book but a real report of our contact with beings from another planetary system. They told us that we will have a war that will destroy one third of the worlds population.

  12. wait how can quarks be created to bond to the two new quarks? i thought matter cannot be created nor destroyed

  13. so wait.
    They paid how much to smash stuff over in Switzerland?
    They could'a got an estwing 3lb hammer for around $30 USD.
    It'll fix just about anything . . .

    .

  14. I could have sworn to having seen NBC News broadcast pictures of an array of uranium atoms imaged using a very high powered transmission electron microscope back in the mid 1970s. One of the electron microscopists where I work said that much resolution should have been possible even with 1970s electron microscope technology if you built one with a tube about 30 feet = 9.1 meters, which would be expensive and most likely non-standard, but certainly doable. More recently (1990s), atoms adsorbed on crystal surfaces have been imaged with atomic force micropes and/or scanning tunneling microscopes (and the results published in peer-reviewed journals). So imaging individual atoms is not so new.

  15. If atoms are so small that they are invisible, then how can a group of atoms, molecules create things we can see?

  16. 2:06 Surely the electron wave function would have collapsed in measurement? Yet the photo is apparently it's possible positions.

  17. Some day humans will realize that they will never be on a small enough level to witness the smallest thing in the Universe . Size is infinite in both directions, large or small. EATON CONJECTURE: EVERY EVEN INTEGER GREATER THEN 12 HAS MORE THEN ONE SUM OF TWO PRIMES. THIS HELPS PROVE THE GOLDBACH CONJECTURE.. THE EVEN INTEGER 1 TRILLION HAS OVER 1 BILLION DIFFERENT SUMS OF TWO PRIMES. SO HOW DO LARGER EVEN INTEGERS HAVE NO COMBINATIONS, IMPOSSIBLE.

  18. Seeing the smallest thing in the world LOL talk about making a video to get back at your ex boyfriend!
    Cosmic shrinkage ala Seinfeld.

  19. Interesting as always but how did we go from explaining using light to see atoms, to measuring quarks with… what?

  20. don't speak DOWN to your audience…some of us recognize that you are a serious, intelligent source of info…besides being good looking.

  21. If existence is considered a calculated description by universal functional principle, a "fluid" elemental meaning of the uni-dimensional state of dominant spacing, derived from the concept of connection at singularity, then this self-defining modulation positioning is a continuum bounded by zero-infinity difference, Superposition-point quantization spectrum at the Central Limit 1-0Duration interval Eternity-now.
    Arbitrary observation is an instantaneous snapshot of the cause-effect multi-phase-locked coherence/connection objective perceived as perspective.., so "size" is an arbitrary matter of objective measurement.., kind of the reverse definition of physical quantization is by relative timing connection rates/quantization, and that's the subject of Physics.

    Size <=>Matter(s)cause-effect defining quantum fields of elemental significance.

  22. Um, you fail to mention that CERN is under the hands of the dark forces and they are under a nefarious agenda. Dont make it sound like CERN is a good thing.

  23. The Smallest Thing in the Universe is an Infinitely Finite Indivisible Singularity Having No Relative Numerical Value, Having a Numerical Value of Zero-0 Nada, Zip, Nothing. Before a Singularity can have Relative, a Numerical of One-1 it must be in motion, the first in a series, have angular momentum, velocity of speed and direction, so as to be Measurable as to Location and momentum in Space-Time. A Singularity that is not measurable as to location and Momentum in Space-Time does not exist in the Material sense of the word, has No Mass. There are two Singularities, which being of the same source are the same and yet distinctly different in Nature, the Binary Natures of the Singular Realities 0/1. A Singularity of Zero-0 has no angular momentum, no velocity of Speed and direction, is not readily apparent, is not measurable as to location and Momentum in Space-Time.

  24. I kinda take offense to the name you have chosen for your channel. It seems to imply that it's special that you're talking about physics because you're a girl. I don't see anything special in women doing physics, or anything else for that matter. (I am male btw) I do like though that you call it physics, instead of calling physics science like so many channels do (I'm pointing at you @Science Asylum!

  25. "We didn't know until 2009…" I remember seeing an electron micrograph (electron-microscope-photograph) of protein molecules in my high school science text book in 1972. Gen X's & Y's are so ignorant of what came before them. (Of course, great advances since then, but it's just not true that there were no images of molecules until 2009 – she didn't specify WHICH molecules, they vary greatly in size.) One more thing, they switched the Large Hadron Collider back on in 2015, what's happened since? Any breakthroughs??

  26. I've figured out the 'Doble Slit' experiment. They are thinking in 2D, not 3D – Spherical. This is the same mistake made when envisioning Curved Space-Time. What I don't have a FULL grasp on yet is 'Wave Collapse', if it even does' because that involves 'Quantum Entanglement', if that's even what is happing. And the 'Cat in the cardboard box has a 100% chance of determining its defacto fate if there is some kind of outside influence. It's easier to look at quantum entanglement and spin comparing it to a pliable (elastic) bar magnet where for example spin up would be a north pole and down south pole along with 'i' (sphere). But, this is a spherical bar magnet. No matter how small the sphere or large the magnetic sphere, the north, and south pole are forever ENTANGLED. You stretch it or squash it down to a Planck distance to the size of the infant universe, the magnetic pole will react instantaneously based on the inverse square, and not the speed of light because of they're intangled.

  27. 2019: Trump has taken over the world is doomed. Particles are not interesting anymore, only videogames and I have given up on humanity and adopted video games as a coping mechanism to this dystopian society help

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