If atoms are nothing…

My head hurts. I just heard something I’ve long known, that atoms are 99.9% nothing. Just space.

We are made up largely of atoms.

What we see, feel, touch, taste and smell is therefore only 0.01% of *stuff*. So what and where is all the other 99.9% of stuff? These are exactly the types of topics I should not be thinking about at 4pm on a wintery Sunday.

Topics like these have always slightly bothered me, which has been a challenge since I’m absolutely fascinated by them. One of my earliest memories is of being shown a picture of the cosmos, and our planet and its position within the milky way. Various statistics were vomited into my brain: the sun, which to me always felt so close and unbelievably hot in August, even preventing me from riding my bike in the Thames Valley of the UK (not exactly Death Valley in terms of temperature), was about 145million miles away.

I then asked my dad how far away Grandpa lived, a journey we did most weekends and which took 45 adult minutes, or roughly 12 child years (or so it felt). “About 30 miles,” he said. I couldn’t get my head around the distances in space, and at 31 I still cannot. Many of the stars we see at night are dead or dying. The light from their death just hasn’t reached us yet.

Anyway. My response to being told this for the first time was almost to give up on life’s rules and set plans. I remember being told off for drawing on a wall, and my reaction was “Who cares? Nothing matters. It’s just a small mark on a wall. We are nothing!” I probably didn’t use those words exactly, but the sentiment is right. What does anything matter when we are all so insignificant?!

But, regardless, I still absolutely adore tea, even if it’s 99.9% “nothing”.

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