My body is composed of anywhere from 10 to 100 trillion cells, according to conflicting internet sources (and really, are there any other sorts of internet sources?).
My brain clogs up if I try to think of more than seven things at the same time anyway, so ‘lots’ is a fair description.
Each of those cells is made up of many separate molecules. The average animal cell is 10 to 30 micrometers in size. The average amino acid is 0.8 nanometers in size. So ‘lots’ of molecules can fit in the average cell, I’d gather.
Thousands of molecules, each made up of anywhere from dozens to hundreds of atoms, depending on their nature. Each of those atoms could have dozens, or even hundreds, of individual component structures, divided amongst protons, neutrons and electrons. Most of them are hydrogen, oxygen and carbon, however, and have fairly small numbers of components. A small relief, at least it wasn’t ‘lots.’
In any case, each of those components is further composed of quarks, each with their own bewildering array of names. Atoms might be divisible, but protons, neutrons and electrons don’t seem to be quite so amenable to opening up and showering up with free-range quarks.
In fact, many argue that quarks don’t exist. Others argue that they do exist, but only sometimes. At any given nanosecond, each of these hundreds of thousands of tens of trillions of quarks in my body may or may not exist. But the protons, etc don’t just collapse for lack of quarkly ‘stuffing.’ There are quarks present, holding them above the water of whatever substratum exists ‘under’ this soap bubble film we call the universe, just not always the same quarks.
It’s like a piston engine, or a human heart or brain. It can’t all function 100% all the time as one smooth continuous action. The engine would melt or seize up, the heart would tear itself apart under the stress, the brain would overheat and the neurochemicals; serotonin, dopamine, norepeniphrine and the like, would run dry.
So it is with these little engines of creation pumping away inside of each atom of our universe. They can’t all be working 24/7. They can’t even be working from one second to the next. They only work for an instant, like the single pounding of a piston, a single cell that fires once and then dies out. Then that quark submerges back into whatever cosmic break room quarks inhabit when they aren’t working, and a new quark as instantaneously, and briefly, replaces it, the overlying atomic component none the wiser to the rapid replacements occurring within it every second.
So hundreds of times a second, in thousands of trillions of places within every single person, change is occurring. Fundemental, in fact, the most fundemental, components of our structure are vanishing out from ‘underneath’ us, but being replaced so quickly, so seamlessly, that we do not run the risk of ‘deflating’ out of reality, like some sort of balloon that has suddenly gone airless.
But are these quarks created at the instant they are needed, and are they destroyed, to be ‘recycled’ instantly again within the protons of physical matter? Or do they tunnel away to some other state, existing momentarily in a wave-form, neither here nor there, neither cat nor smile, ‘resting’ between physical manifestations? And are the measurements that we regard as space and time remotely relevant to these manifestations?
It is possible that any one quark, perhaps existing for a nanosecond in an atom that is currently part of a protein that is an important component to a mitochondrial structure in one of the cells of my index fingernail, just a nanosecond before existed as part of the proton of a hydrogen atom in the heart of the sun? Was that same quark a nanosecond before part of the collapsed matter in the core of a black hole in the galactic center, and a nanosecond before that part of the mysterious ‘dark matter’ floating around in the void between the stars? Given the sheer number of quark replacements occurring as they emerge and submerge, cycling into and out of physical existence within my form, it is likely that in an average day, parts of my underlying structure have also been parts of every single person, place or thing in this universe, let alone this world, or this nation.
If these quarks somehow ‘remembered’ where they were last, and some fantasy science could freeze me in time, and dissect me down to a quantum level and read those ‘quantum memories,’ would I be a snapshot of creation, containing components of every single thing in the universe? It is a conceit of humanity that one can ever truly think of themself as ‘connected’ to another, but if that is a conceit, what level of hubris is it to consider oneself connected to everything?
And if this were so, and given the volume of biological waste in this world, composed of undigested cells and proteins, atoms of methane and carbon, with countless quarks spinning into and out of phase and replacing quarks pistoning in and out of my own atoms, it could be reliably said that at any moment I am quite full of shit.