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The Tao of Matter

Mohan is a family physician, film and TV aficionado, a keen bibliophile and an eclectic scribbler.

The Tao of Matter

The Tao of Matter

Life, the universe and everything

Life, the universe and everything

Probability, chance, serendipity, unpredictability shattered my perfectly formed illusions. I was dragged in, dizzy and delirious, to the world of Quantum mechanics. And in doing so, of the mysteries of life itself.

What Matters Most...

Science is obsessed, understandably, by observable objects and phenomena. Such is the nature of proof and evidence.

When I was little, matter made sense. Newton's laws of motion were fully enacted. There was inertia and momentum. There was action and reaction. Life was uncomplicated ( well, it seemed so). What mattered most was the insatiable curiosity and the constant growth. What mattered most was wanting to be loved, protected, nurtured and cared for.

As I grew a tad older, Einstein blew open my mind. He showed me that everything was relative. And it wasn't just the Newtonian laws of motion that govern tangible objects. Truth, beauty, happiness, intelligence, peace, contentment - I realised all those states that mattered were also relative.

I was happy in my knowledge of relativity and felt wiser for it until I grew into adulthood. Then strangeness crept in. Games were played, forces were in action that were as yet uncaptured. Probability, chance, serendipity, unpredictability shattered by perfectly formed illusions. I was dragged in, dizzy and delirious, to the world of Quantum mechanics.

My expanding understanding and puzzlement of the physical world paralleled my understanding of life. I realised that things weren't just relative, but positively wondrous. The farther out to space or further into the innards of an atom I traveled, my world began to unravel. Yet, strangely, in the middle of all that chaos theory, I sensed a glimmer of understanding.

Here, I hope to share this perspective. While it is my journey, I do hope, fellow passengers, that you'll take my invitation to share the views outside this speeding vehicle.

States of Matter

States of Matter



The Perspectives series began in the Fall of 2012 and has continued into 2013.

Along with our original convenor Mickey Sr, wonderfully talented scribes such as bravewarrior, Martie Coetser, marcoujor, VickiW and the also ran pretender Docmo have got together to share with you our take on various chosen topics.

We also invite guest authors each month to share their perspective on the theme at hand.

Our previous perspectives include...

Changes to the states of matter

Changes to the states of matter

We learn, as we advance, that the states of the matter is down to the distribution of the individual molecules held together by forces of attraction.

States of Matter

In our first encounter with Physics, we are introduced to simple states of matter. We become familiar with the objects we see and interact. We realise the variability in two forms - solids and liquids. We are then stretched beyond our sense of touch and vision to feel the air. We feel the gentle breeze, take a deep breath and realise that there are things that exist that we may not always see. We accept the three states of the matter as solids, liquids and gases.

We learn, as we advance, that the state of the matter is down to the distribution of the individual molecules held together by forces of attraction. Closely packed are the Solids. Liquids have more space between them. Gases have their individual molecules drifting quite far apart, in a Brownian motion, shapeless yet still governed by their own laws.

As children we are motivated by simple wants like hunger and attention. We want to be seen and heard. We want to be fed. We cry, we laugh. We are familiar with simple relationships that we accept unconditionally. Mother and Father. Then our siblings, grandparents and the ever widening circle of relatives. We believe in the security of our home, our relationship. We believe in solid, tangible truths.

We think the solid is strong and dependable. We soon realise that a liquid can be as strong if not more as it erodes mountains in its path. The gentle breeze that can equally turn into a destructive cyclone. We are then taught solids can melt into liquids or even sublimate into gases. We understand liquids can freeze or vaporise. We find that gases can precipitate into solids or condense into liquids.

We understand a bit about change.

Mind over Matter

Mind over Matter

Inside the Atom

Inside the Atom

Like the Electrons, we do exude and consume energy. Energy levels can upscale or downscale a person. We may take energy and grow. We lose energy and decay...

Inside the Atoms

We understand that the basic unit of matter is the atom. The atom looks like a little celestial organisation. At the centre of it is the nucleus that contains the positive protons and the neutral neutrons. Surrounding this is a 'cloud' of negatively charged electrons held in their orbital tracks by electromagnetic forces.

We understand that there is also a lot of space between these particles. Atoms group together forming bonds to create a molecule.

The rather decisive name, 'Atom', comes from the Greek A- Tomos which means that which couldn't be cut open or indivisible. During their initial discovery, Atoms were thought to be the ultimate building blocks- that which cannot be cut further. However, as we know now, we are only limited by our imagination and the scientific tools we possess for looking far within.

Our understanding of the laws of physics parallels our own growth. We realise the deeper we look within, the more components matter has. We realise the people that we know have many facets. They may have positives and negatives. They may hold neutral beliefs. It is in the coming together of their inner elements that forms a whole. They are bits we may like and bits we don't. Sometimes we need to weigh up these bits and choose wisely.

Protons and Neutrons inhabit the nucleus. Without the neutrality of the neutrons, the protons may repel each other.There are those souls who seem boring neutral, yet serve their function in preventing repulsion and implosion.

Atoms can transmute. Electrons, the chief purveyors of the individual characteristic of an atom are travelling at one third the speed of light. They may ascend or descend down their orbital states by gaining or losing energy. In doing so they change not only their own state but also that of the individual atom.

We understand energy levels can upscale or downscale a person. We may take energy and grow. We may lose energy and decay. We understand the laws of happiness and sadness; anger and peace.

We enter the world of subatomic particles.

The fundamental particles of Matter

The fundamental particles of Matter

Elementary Particles

Elementary Particles

Physicist Murray Gel- Mann who proposed the name Quarks says he was inspired by this passage from James Joyce's novel.

Three quarks for Muster Mark!

Sure he has not got much of a bark

And sure any he has it's all beside the mark.

—James Joyce, Finnegans Wake

The deeper we delve...

We call these subatomic inhabitants 'particles'. This is perhaps a throwback to classical mindset where everything had to be tangible. It also helps our brains conceptualise these characters at such minuscule levels. In actuality it is difficult describe these blimps in a 'real world' setting.

Physicists tell us that these subatomic particles are actually composites of 'elementary particles'. These oh so tiny building blocks have now been classified according to their energy states, forces and behaviours.

There has been an explosion of scientific activity around particle physics since the sixties with the advent of particle accelerators and a new wave of detectors. Old concepts were refreshed with new understanding.

The elementary particles are grouped in two as Fermions ( Quarks and Leptons) and Bosons.

Fermions include 'Quarks' - six in number & Leptons - six in number

There a multitude of 'Gauge Bosons' - around 12 in number (at last count!)

Add to these the previously speculated and lately confirmed 'God particle' the Higgs-Boson.

And so it goes... limited only by our powers of observation and scientific prowess. Just like the seemingly infinite outer edge of the universe, the innerscape of an atom may descend deeper.


Elementary Particles





Electron neutrino


W Boson



Z Boson

Muon neutrino





Higgs Boson

Tau neutrino



Who Am I?

Who Am I?

We are a construct of a multitude of memories, desires, fears and aspirations. We interact with others who are also a similar yet different construct.

What is the matter with you?

So what am I? A construct of subatomic forces that are randomly, serendipitously circling each other exchanging energy?

Where did they come from and where are they going?

The more we delve into the innards of ourselves the more we know we are but constructs of our physical and emotional selves. Our thoughts, beliefs, behaviours inhabit our physical body and influence who we are. We are a construct of a multitude of memories, desires, fears and aspirations. We interact with others who are also a similar yet different construct.

When we orbit each other, develop a friendships and relationships by exchanging elementary particles of thought. Our lives are in constant flux, a celestial dance.

We react and interact. We live and die. But at some level we have always been there.

Matter exists in some form. We circle this universe in an eternal quest. Be it as an elementary particle or a composite human.

Are we ultimately just bit players in this melodrama?

Lord Shiva in a cosmic Dance

Lord Shiva in a cosmic Dance

The Dance of Shiva is the cosmic dance of matter itself and of what matters...

The Dance of Shiva

I grew up as a Hindu, and I have always been fascinated by the Dance of Shiva.

In Hindu mythology, Shiva is one of the holy trinity ( Brahma and Vishnu the other two). Shiva is often depicted as a cosmic dancer ( Nataraja). The symbolic representation of Shiva has many mystical connotations that are strangely aligned to the some of our understanding of Physics.

In the image above he is depicted dancing amidst a circle of flames ( Agni) - this represents the ever changing Universe born out of the Big Bang.

He holds a small drum (Dhamaru) in his upper right hand. This represents the sound of the beat of time, the cosmic passage. The lower right hand is held palm facing out, asking us not to fear ( Abhaya-Mudra). This is the gesture of righteousness, of Dharma, giving solace from evil and ignorance.

In the upper left hand, he grasps fire itself, signifying his role in destruction before creation. The snake around his waist signifies Kundalini, the divine force that pervades everything. The second right hand points to the raised foot - so that we feel uplifted and rise above our mortal confines. The Demon ( Apasmara) he dances on is Shiva's triumph over ignorance.

The loose tresses of his hair flail wildly, knocking celestial objects in and out of orbit, creating stars, destroying galaxies, in an eternal chaos of the Universe.

The Dance of Shiva is the dance of matter itself and of what matters...

While majestic, virile and powerful Shiva's dance is also mesmerising, calming and fluid.

What Particle are You?

What Particle are You?

What matters to me...

My pursuit of understanding the physical universe has aided my perspective on life. I dare not think of them as profound universal truths but merely my own take on life... my perspectives.

  • Just like those elementary particles even the smallest gestures, sentiments and displays of love count. They build to a bigger composite.

  • The whole is but a sum of its parts. Those we love may have attributes that are negative and attributes that are positive. Even these attributes may change with time.

  • We give and take energy to transcend states of mind.

  • Life doesn't come wrapped in neat packages, the constituent parts that sum up the whole is a composite of matter and energy in a state of eternal chaos. Even something that appears solid is in a state of flux, an internal dance of particles and energy.

  • There are many particles, but it is the forces of attraction and repulsion that govern them and guide their journey.

  • Our journey is but a snapshot of the journey of our constituent matter. All matter is eternal, we are but a composite vehicle made for this ride.

The Journey goes on. We could waste a good journey sometimes worrying about where we came from and where we are going. It is always worth enjoying the journey that so many others don't get to be on.

Let us focus on living. And living as well as we can.

© Mohan Kumar 2013

The Meaning of Life : Monty Python

Perspectives by DocMo..

Thank You!

Thank you so much for reading this Perspective . Please do leave some comments and feedback below. And do vote as appropriate!

If you like what you read share it with friends and family on Facebook/ Twitter/ Pinterest/ Google+ or similar.

Appreciate your time and interest, dear reader.

Do come again.


© Mohan Kumar 2013



May Perspectives:

Life Matters By All Odds by Martie Coetser

The Team by Vickiw

Truth by Mickey Sr

What Matters: Sleep On It (Perspectives) by Marcoujor

The Tao of Matter by Docmo

Bravewarrior is on a well earned rest... will be back next month!



Denise Handlon from North Carolina on June 13, 2013:

Hi Docmo-loved the lesson here. I was born and raised Catholic, but have long been fascinated with Hinduism and the god of Shiva. I loved your explanation here of Shiva, and will carry that with me when I see his statue again. I have many CD's with beautiful chants of Shiva, so this will make it more interesting the next time I listen to them.

When I began my meditation practice I began the realization of how matter isn't what it appears to be. Meditation into the infinite spaciousness of consciousness has helped to acclimate me to the nothingness that is part of everything. Of course, you state it much better than I do...UP/U/I

brownella from New England on June 05, 2013:

Beautifully written. I've always loved the poetry of physics and how it transcends into every aspect of life, it was always the branch of science that made the most sense to me. Thanks for sharing :)

Mohan Kumar (author) from UK on May 20, 2013:

@Mary: You are a veritable bundle of energy ;-) You may not feel so but it is obvious in your writings, musings and feedback. As always, thank you so much for your visit. You brightened up my sky.

Mary Craig from New York on May 20, 2013:

"Like the Electrons, we do exude and consume energy. " Hmm, I sometimes wonder about that statement. Consume energy, yes, but I'm not so sure about exuding it anymore ;) Great musings Mohan. Physical and/or spiritual we inhabit this earth...with one hundred billion stars in the sky...this hub needs to be read more than once and who doesn't love Monty Python!!

Voted up, useful, and interesting.

Mohan Kumar (author) from UK on May 20, 2013:

@Michelle: thank you very much. The concept of flux and flow has always been useful to me. Hence the Tao.

@Kathi: Bless you, my child. I am glad I was able to produce something from my internal ramblings that could be considered a sunday sermon. I'm truly grateful for your warm, wonderful feedback. Thank you so much. Hugs right backatcha.

Kathi Mirto from Fennville on May 19, 2013:

Greetings Doc,

It's Sunday morning and I feel as if I just read my holy sermon for the day and now I shall consider what impact this will have on the rest of my day or the rest of my life. So what I take from this is that we are energy in state of chaos and flux, constant and ever changing in both the physical realm as well as the emotional and spiritual. All the different particles within each realm are in relationship and need each other in order to experience positive outcomes.

This is one of those pieces where you come back to in order to be reminded and catch something you missed. Each time you come back, you have a new perspective and might view it differently because you have grown, hopefully, in some way, spiritually, emotionally, intellectually and or physically!

Excellent work from one of our scientific minds. You presented this in a way even us laymen can understand! Hugs, my friend, Kathi

Michelle Liew from Singapore on May 16, 2013:

Too true, Doc, everything is in flux and ever changing. A great exploration of the physics of life! Thanks for sharing, and I am passing this on.

Mohan Kumar (author) from UK on May 16, 2013:

@susi10- Thank you very much!

Susan W from The British Isles, Europe on May 16, 2013:

Great hub Docmo! Really interesting and got me thinking about matter. Voted up!

Mohan Kumar (author) from UK on May 16, 2013:

@Mickey- Thank you so much for your appreciation of my writing. You couldn't have put it better... Somewhere between the arrogance of being the star players and equally ludicrous to consider we are just happenstance. wherever our source of solace and divine inspiration springs from, it is good to consider we are made to be a source of wonder...and humility.

MickeySr from Hershey, Pa. on May 16, 2013:

Mohan ~ I love the wonder and enthusiasm that instigates and informs your writing . . . you write, instructionally, about science in a manner that urges the reader to consider the magic of seeing an unseen world for the first time through the microscope or telescope. I believe it is a rare gift, even among good writers, to be able to share what captivates you in a manner that captivates your reader - it's a manner of music, it's what makes some writing art rather than mere information.

"Are we ultimately just bit players in this melodrama?"

It feels like an arrogance to assert we are more than 'bit players' and it seems a ludicrous haughtiness to assert we are 'stars' or 'the main feature' - but, in Christianity, it nonetheless falls-out to be arrogant and haughty to make-up our own scenario and not recognize that we, made in the image of God that He might celebrate His perfect holiness, are not the point and purpose of all His creation and the manifestation of His love. Christianity counts it in fact the greatest humility to submit to His revelation that He loves us . . . the angels look upon us in wonder, exclaiming to each other 'Look! A man, one of those among all His creation especially loved by God!'

Mohan Kumar (author) from UK on May 16, 2013:

@Maria: nudge, nudge , wink, wink, say no more... appreciate your constant support and infinite wisdom, oh wise one.

@Nithya: thank you so much. I'm glad you enjoyed this.

Mohan Kumar (author) from UK on May 16, 2013:

@Nellianna- Thank you for your kind comments.. the deeper we go into science and more we realise that what we know is just a sliver of what we don't know. There is so much mystery and magic in that threshold of discovery.

@Ruby- as always thank you for your wonderful comment. I strive to retain that sense of curiosity and wonderment till I am back to being just a bunch of elementary particles.

@Vickiw - It is great to know this has been 'gobsmackingly good'. Thank you very much for your visit and comment. Really appreciate your visit.

Nithya Venkat from Dubai on May 15, 2013:

Great comparison between matter and life. Matter is in a state of constant change and so is life! Every little part counts. A brilliant write. Voted way up.

Maria Jordan from Jeffersonville PA on May 15, 2013:

"Let us focus on living. And living as well as we can."

I hate to throw in the TAO, but that seems to be the essence of what matters...sprinkled with some Monty Python, nudge nudge...wink, wink!

Doc, you rock! Voted UP and all across. Hugs, Maria

Vickiw on May 15, 2013:

Hi dear Doc, what an impressive, beautifully presented work of art and science, blended into a fascinating look at matter! What else can I say? The words stunning and gobsmacked seem to be in there somewhere too!

I chose the easy way out. Matter was just too much for me to tackle! Congratulations!

Ruby Jean Richert from Southern Illinois on May 15, 2013:

I especially liked your perceptive of early childhood, what mattered was love and nourishment, from there we wanted/needed more, understanding and inward happiness. We are revolving more and more into matter and what makes us happy as an individual. No two people are completely alike, thus, we must find our way in this vast universe. I enjoy reading your take on life and mater. This has been an educational journey for me, microbiology was never this interesting..Thank you Doc.

Nellieanna Hay from TEXAS on May 15, 2013:

Docmo - this look at the science and the tao of matter is extremely impressive and provocative. When one gets into what we consider the building blocks of matter - atoms and subatomic particles, it confirms how vastly interactive and universal this is. Life is both intrinsic to it and rare in it, perhaps.

You've presented much to study. It merits intense attention. Thank you for your insight and perspective, both as a scientist and one who sees deeply.

Mohan Kumar (author) from UK on May 15, 2013:

@tsmog: thank you. May your morsel ( or two) sate your hunger pangs and a nice cup'o tea quench your thirst. May your nap refresh your body and mind and may this humble hub give some points to ponder. As for butterflies and the humming birds I envy the picture you paint of gently floating down the river of life. Enjoy!

Mohan Kumar (author) from UK on May 15, 2013:

@Mr B: appreciate you visit and positive comment. I agree, attempting to understand everything is an arduous yet exciting task.

@livingsta: Thank you so much for your visit and support. Much appreciated.

@Nell: It is always good to find a fellow Quantum Physics fan. Love your God Particle joke .. apparently Physicists do hate that sobriquet. IT was coined by a guy called Physicist /author Leon Lederman in his 1993 book called ' The God Particle'!

Mohan Kumar (author) from UK on May 15, 2013:

@mcbirdbks: Thank you. I am glad I have safely navigated my circuit around elementary particles and life. I am even more glad that you came and read this.

@Martie: isn't it so? every time we share perspectives we do find similarities and shared ideas. I am glad I was able to articulate somewhat your own ponderings on particle Physics. Thank you!

Mohan Kumar (author) from UK on May 15, 2013:

@Shauna: Thank you for reading this while you are on your well earned break from perspectives. I am glad this made some sense, it came out in a flurry of metaphysical musings and I just plonked them down here and hope it all made sense. I am glad it did. Much appreciated.

@Ruchira: I am glad to have reminded you of Physics lessons ... I am not sure if you did want to be reminded though :-) appreciate your visit and comment.

Tim Mitchell from Escondido, CA on May 15, 2013:

Hello Docmo. I am giggling not laughing. After this days' passing that is relief and not spelled (forget it I forgot the commercial just now). Sharing is I began reading then realized more than is much better, yet time beckons.

Thus, I now have an evening before me after a nap of a few hours, a morsel or two, and then of study and pondering more than, offered with amazing skills and a bit of magic too. I ponder having read, though not studied as yet, the contrast of your Haiga's and this work with comparison being near to the same, just different.

More is seen as memory shares the other four as before being read, the intrigue of what of may have been with knowledge of, yet a mystery offering hope, as new is shared, and they all equal one.

I do know a cup'pa tea sounds better than a cup of coffee now. I will follow with a spot check for butterflies upon Lantana in the front of this vessel, and then those of the aft being more plentiful. Those birds of humming this song or that on the side will be present nearing dusk and now cooler. Most assuredly images will be dancing with thoughts of ponder. I thank you . . .


Nell Rose from England on May 15, 2013:

Hi Docmo, I love the way you brought Quantum Physics and human nature together was amazing, being a Quantum Physics fan this was a brilliant read. Here's a strange fact for you. The Higgs boson was originally called the God particle, but it wasn't started in the way we think. Someone said when they were first discussing it, something along the lines of, ' What in Gods name shall we call the darn thing'? lol! I read that in a science magazine, seriously though, great hub, voted and shared, nell

livingsta from United Kingdom on May 15, 2013:

Wow, awesome explanation here Mohan relating matter and life. This is so beautiful. Thank you for sharing this with us. Voted up, awesome and interesting and sharing!

Mr B on May 15, 2013:

Fantastic!!!!!! Docmo you have a way of explaining so that every one can understand. And in the end the conclusion is still that we wil never be able to understand every thing, and what we understand ispresious. LOVE LIFE & the UNIVERSE.

Martie Coetser from South Africa on May 15, 2013:

I am speechless! This is the first time in a long time I read my own perceptive on life so perfectly expressed in words.

“The farther out to space or further into the innards of an atom I travelled, my world began to unravel. Yet, strangely, in the middle of all that chaos theory, I sensed a glimmer of understanding.”

This is exactly what had happened to me when I started to study (in my own why) physics and quantum physics. Physics is a language. Writing a language is one thing, speaking a language is another thing and understanding a language is something else. I understand physics, but I cannot speak or write it.

So I am totally stunned with awe, Docmo. You have explained this entire phenomenon called Life and even life before birth and after death – and also human behaviour - absolutely perfect.

Voted up and absolutely awesome :)

mckbirdbks from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas on May 15, 2013:

Hello Docmo. Nice addition to this months Perspective. Your hub is sprinkled with facts covered with a layer of humor with your selection of Monty Python. You safely navigated the issue.

Ruchira from United States on May 15, 2013:

I was glad to get an overview of my academic years, which were left far behind.

I agree, we are all connected to science of matter and our thoughts are subjected to our approach in life. You did a fantastic job, convincing the reader to follow her thoughts cause that will eventually lead her to her destiny.

Voted up, shared across!!

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on May 15, 2013:

Wow, Doc. This lesson in matter and how we can assimilate matter to human life is brilliant. Each human is individual although we are like composits. Your perspective ties in somewhat with Martie's and Mickey's. You have a very complex mind, Doc!

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