Life at the indefinite-level and atomistic-level

Below are two thought experiments that I noted a while back. I offer them for your scrutiny 🙂

Thought experiment to the indefinite-level: Close your eyes; imagine yourself leaving your body; as you elevate, you look down and see yourself sitting; you continue to elevate; you see your house, then your town, your state, your country, your continent, the earth. Keep rising; you now can see the solar system; you see other solar systems; you see the Milky Way; keep rising; you now see other galaxies; more galaxies…What do you see after this point? I don’t see anything. I despise the fact that my imagination is bounded by this inability to see beyond the universe. I have heard of theories that promote the idea of multiple universes, but, I cannot even imagine one universe, let alone multiple universes. The implication: Compared to the universe (or multiple universes), life, as we define it restricted to earth, is virtually nonexistent. Life, in this objective, human-less, quantitative way, seems empty and meaningless. I am not sure if life even exists. “A thing exists if without it the world ceases to function normally,” says Robert Pirsig in Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. If you snapped your finger and the earth disappeared, would the universe cease to function normally, or more bluntly, would the universe even notice?

Thought experiment to the atomistic-level: place a stone in-front of you. Now, imagine you are looking at the stone with an extremely powerful microscope that allows you to see the atoms which make up the stone. At the atomistic level, you see the nucleus and around it, the electrons moving in a probabilistic cloud. The electrons are at a significant distance from the nucleus such that most of the atom is empty space. The nucleus and electrons together make up approximately .01% of the volume of an atom while the other 99.99% is empty space. All this I understand. Yet, if an atom is mostly empty space, then how can a combination of atoms make-up the stone? A fair answer is to say that the summation of .01% volume over several billion protons and electrons is significant. Though, the summation of 99.99% over several billion empty spaces is also significant. Therefore, the stone is more empty space than mass, yet we call it a stone and not empty space. Life, as we experience it, is just an interaction of atoms. Atoms, however, are 99.99% empty space. Does this mean that life, our experiences in and with it, is also mostly empty?

Notice that one reaches similar conclusions in both thought experiments: Life, if analyzed objectively to the indefinite-level or to the atomistic-level, appears empty and meaningless. Does one reach different conclusions when doing this analysis subjectively?


About Ranjodh Singh
I'm currently an Ally in the Public Allies New York Apprenticeship ( Through the apprenticeship, I'm partnered with NYCRx (, a nonprofit organization that improves the health of New Yorkers using public health interventions. I'm excited to continue serving, but doing so closer to health and medicine. I'm also enjoying NYC, which I find to be an enriching environment.

One Response to Life at the indefinite-level and atomistic-level

  1. Sumit Karn says:

    I don’t have anything about this article…..but I can say something about Ranjodh bhaiya as i am also a small part of MANZIL…A bro. is said to be God’s greatest gift, as he sent the person across, because he forgot to make them siblings.The same thing I can say for Ranjodh bhaiya. A person of very polite nature, very cultured , and a person who will always stand by your side, no matter what.He will even go to the extent of helping others, at the cost of his own.But never complain, even if you forget him. The only big problem-itne bhole hai, ki dusre log hamesha iska faida uthate hei.Wish you best of luck in whatever you do , as I know your true potential.May God bless you and you rise heights that few have seen.And be like this only, because few are blessed to have qualities like you

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