GOD, THE DEVIL, AND MICROSCOPY  [Part 1]
by mol smith 2013
Credits, Permissions & References     1  2  3  4  5  6                                                                                   

The Devil is in the Detail (and maybe God?)
My optical microscope is limited in its capability by the wavelength of light. The technique can only image dark or strongly refracting objects effectively, and with diffraction techniques we are limited to a resolution between processes of 0.2 micrometres. Light which is out of focus interferes with coherent light and reduces image clarity. It's not very good if you want to study living things (an advantage because dead things have a lot of processes which are now gone), an optical microscope is not so useful as it struggles to differentiate between many processes in living cells because most of the processes are transparent or colourless. Contrast is missing. That's why we kill life forms, to stain them. But staining may also introduce artifacts, apparent structural details that are caused by the processing of the specimen and are thus not a legitimate feature of the specimen.

These limitations have all been overcome to some extent by specific microscopy techniques that can non-invasively increase the contrast of the image. In general, these techniques make use of differences in the refractive index of cell structures. It is comparable to looking through a glass window: you (bright field microscopy) don't see the glass but merely the dirt on the glass. There is a difference, as glass is a denser material, and this creates a difference in phase of the light passing through. The human eye is not sensitive to this difference in phase, but clever optical solutions have been thought out to change this difference in phase into a difference in amplitude (light intensity).

Up until very recently, only microscopes using a different 'probing finger' - electron beam, laser light - could see more details. If you want to probe ever deeper into the smallest structures within and making up our universe, and 'observe' the results, you need to break away from any kind of visual imaging and instead use the a beam of protons accelerated to 671,000,000 miles per hour to smash apart a small piece of matter, the most powerful supercomputer system in the world to analyse the results, and 10,000 scientists/engineers employed to labour at the task. To get to visit God, you have to create collisions which generate temperatures more than 100,000 times hotter than the heart of the Sun. This is where the Haydron Collider in Switzerland/France comes in. It is humankind's most powerful microscope. What you observe is the trace signal of quantum packets of energy at discrete energy levels representing super-sub-atomic masses which exist for an exceedingly brief period of time.

I will get to the  Quantum World and its implication on our existence in a later part of this article set. For now, let's return to optical microscopy, because as the quote says, 'The Devil is in the detail'. Take a look at this....

Rainer Kaufmann, Patrick Müller, Michael Hausmann, Christoph Cremer: Imaging label-free intracellular structures by localisation microscopy. Micron (2010), doi:10.1016/j.micron.2010.03.06 . Author Andy Nestl (wiki creative commons licence).

This sequence of images demonstrate how light carries important information which normally eludes us microscopists using our simple optical microscopes. You can read all about this field [Super Resolution Microscopy] here. If I were observing this structure in my optical microscope, the best I will get as an image is that grey one in the first frame. But it's clear to see that light has the ability to transfer information in finer detail than the simple wave-length rule of light would first suggest. If you will excuse the pun: a bit of an eye-opener!

Light seems an important factor in our universe. Our science, or the knowledge from it we currently have,  defines a limit to the speed at which information (and material) can be transferred from one place to another: the speed of light. Well, it does so at least in the macro non-quantum world we presume to inhabit. This is not true in the sub-micro-quantum world which is inherently and invisibly influencing the very foundation of macro structures in our 'normal' physical reality. Here, information can be transferred instantaneously across any distance. But as I said, that's for a different section of this work.

Light in its more obvious guise is also critical to life on earth. Light is a legacy of the original spark which expanded to become our cosmos. It now comes from bundles (fragments) of the Big Bang and reaches into our lives via stars, galaxies, and our own meager attempts to play with various parts of matter to release or realise light emission: LEDs, Fluorescence, Bio-luminescence, electrical discharge, energy stimulation etc.,

Two Strange Qualities
The Sun provides all the energy to sustain everything living on earth. The sun is a star made from the material, oops... sorry - energy (since matter can't exist - as we know it -   in the first nano-seconds of a Big Bang), originating from a source we consider to be the Big Bang, the moment when a tiny microscopic structure came into existence and expanded to become the Universe we currently inhabit... well, a tiny part of it.

The stuff from the same source, which failed to get caught up in the full gravitational effect collecting the  energy and 'evolved' early physical structure together to form the sun, ends up pulling its other close elementary cohorts equally together to make our planets, a few other planets, and a lot of debris: asteroids, meteors, and comets.

So: tiny spark... big bang... big expansion... a property in existence wanting things to be together again (gravity?). Something odd (to me) seems to be to be going on. First of all we have something which comes into being which seems intent on blowing itself apart. At the same time, the parts seem to want to come together and also wish (I am not subscribing any sentient trait here) to explore and find  all other possible ways they can recombine with other elemental 'bits' from their common  big bang origin.

Big Bang, expansion, gravity, galaxies, dark matter, stars, sun, earth... a bit of cooling down (too hot for stable organic structures), a bit of lightening (yet again, electrons trying to get back to where they can be stable) a few chemicals, themselves simplified out of the original Big Bang source energy, a bit of water (the weirdest stuff in the galaxy and little understood)... an all pervading intent even down to this level to somehow find a way to recombine... {WHOOSH}... life. Yup, it's only a start but it's life.

. Is it all part of something, an intent which began in that Big Bang, and is still driving everything (fear of extinction, fear of chaos, entropy, the end of all that can be?). Whatever it is - I'm here because of it.

I am not here because of the entire process alone, which is what science examines. I am here because something in what we call matter, energy, and the various fragments we break down and label, or work out how they behave and interact, appears to want to combine again. Escaping entropy? How would it know that lay in wait for it? Gravity? It doesn't explain expansion.  What are the two strange qualities?

1) An Intent to recombine into a stable unity appears to exist in every unit of matter and energy.
2) The extraordinary and diverse manifestation of how that intent is mapped onto the processes science has exposed to us.


These are abstract qualities.

It's important to understand for the first, I am not saying it's gravity. Sure, that would bring together things alright and maybe as an activator it is involved with the process. The fact is, if you put enough atoms together through gravity, the result is another singularity, a black hole, or possibly another big bang. But if gravity does it for you, then you have to pass that inheritance to all the matter which  makes up say, a heart, an eye, etc., And you have to consider, even in the abstract, just like gravity, ultimately it appears that when all things come together, they can't stay together because gravity and the normal physical constraints and influences of reality existing  in an expanded state break down in the gravity-fuelled singularity. The fact that we may have discovered the Higgs Boson sub-atomic particle 
ref 4  doesn't actually help much with fully understanding how gravity apparently exerts influence over almost infinite distances (as far as we know), even if you take into account the idea that a field encompasses the entire universe (The Higgs Field) and that the Boson particle interacts with it. These components are exotic. You only have to prove they exist, re-label them and what they stand for in a scientifically-centred view of reality to another paradigm of your or my making and you begin to provide evidence of a divine presence.

Let me provide you with a few examples.

"Love fills the entire Universe." So does the Higgs field.
"Love unifies us." So does the Higgs Boson particle.
"God's love is in all of." So is the Higgs Boson particle.

"God is present in all things..." etc.

Maybe the metaphor of The 'God Particle', attributed by a person at
Fermilab as a kind of ironic joke as it is this particle and the Higgs Field which is believed to have had such a big influence over the Big Bang start to the universe,  is more apt than first thought. And this, despite the fact the Peter Higgs is an atheist and finds the term misleading and distasteful. You might consider this adulteration of scientific statements into spiritual ones difficult to accept or even acrimonious. I am not saying the spiritual ones (nor their science phrased alternatives) are true. What I am saying is that it is interesting to consider processes and components of the universe within a different framework and mind set. What proves to be a truth is what the majority of people exploring a subject and with knowledge of it accept to be true at that time. It remains an accepted truth through the course of time only with additional support for it growing and not diminishing due to new information coming along. What is considered true today often is not so one hundred years later. Some people prefer to retain their own truths despite the majority, which I consider not a bad thing really. It makes not only for passionate debates but ensures perceived truth remains challenged and ever-tested. A good safeguard!

And with all scientific knowledge gleaned so far regarding cosmological and sub-atomic processes and their traits, along with all the mathematics, applied computing, quantum physics, and with so many intelligent minds probing the unknown... all of this... and we still can not yet explain nor demonstrate acceptably how living structures came into existence. Even if we did, I doubt if anyone too blinkered by a single scientific-only-perspective could postulate why living things exist other than causation as the result of mindless and goal-less interactions. The universe in all its processes does not waste its material or energy on things of no value to the whole, and is unlikely to manufacture worthless components when itself - has to serve its own law of energy conservation. So, as we are here, there will be a reason.

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[Please note: my article uses images kindly allowed for me to use which were created by other people. By including them in this article, no author of those images is either agreeing or disagreeing with my conclusions or my article's publication. The position and direction of my work here is mine alone].

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