Scientific Vision Of Lord Mahāvīra ► [05] Theory Of Atom ► Dual Nature

Posted: 14.08.2009

At this stage there may rise some fundamental questions, what is the true nature of a particle? Is it a particle or a wave? Is it matter or energy (radiation)? Does it have an electromagnetic field or a gravitational field?

In fact, an atom has the property to be unrestricted, it means that an atom is capable of penetrating and passing through any type of obstruction. Now, we know that the penetrating power of an electromagnetic radiation is inversely proportional to its wave-length i.e. shorter the wave-length of the radiation, higher is its penetrating power. From the stand-point of Physics, the only difference between the long radio waves at one end of the electromagnetic spectrum, and cosmic rays at the other end lies in their wavelength. [70] Visible light can 'pass through' only a few substances like glass. The wave-length of red light is.00007 cm and that of violet light is.00004 cm. X-rays which are shorter (10-6 to 10-8 cm) than visible light can pass through many more substances which are opaque to light waves. Shorter than x-rays are gamma rays (10-8 to 10-13 cm) or radium etc. which can penetrate several feet of cement concrete. The shortest known electromagnetic radiations are cosmic rays with wave-lengths of 10-10 to 10-13 cm which can penetrate even harder substances. Now if a particle is accpeted to possess infinitely more penetrating power than the gamma rays or even cosmic rays, it must be regarded as radiant energy with an infinitesimally small wavelength. This aspect, then, compels us to postulate a particle as energy of infinitesimally small wave-length.

Thus, it becomes necessary to postulate an atom, the ultimae unit of Pudgala, to be an individual particle. In the view of J.S. Zavery and Muni Mahendra Kumar,[71] the properties attributed, in Jain Philosophy, to an atom compels us to visualize it as a particle, or a corpuscle rather than a wave. For instance, it has been stated that atom is sometimes at rest and sometimes in motion. What is the meaning of 'at rest' here? Does it mean a stationary wave in space or a stationary particle? Thus atom, has both the characters—that of a particle and a wave. In some context, it manifests itself as a particle, while in some other context as a wave. It has, therefore, a dual character, and there is no conflict between the two.

Light, for example, is classically regarded as electromagnetic-waves and the difference in various colours is explained by the difference in their wavelengths; an electron, on the other hand, is commonly regarded as a particle with a negative electric charge. While, certain peculiar effects of light could be explained only by assuming that it is composed of particles or grains of energy called photons, it has been proved by experiments that electrons actually do exhibit wave-characteristics. It has been established that not only electrons, but whole atoms and even molecules produce wave-patterns under certain conditons.[72]

Another dualism of the physical order of existence is the concept of two forms, matter and energy,—the former inert, tangible and massive and the latter active, invisible and without mass. The two fundamental forces exerted by physical reality—gravitation and electromagnetism—are yet another aspect of the deep duality of physical universe. Almost all the phenomena of physical universe, are produced by these two primordial forces. While the gravitational forces dominate such phenomena of macrocosm as the motion of planets and stars, the electromagnetic forces are predominant in the microcosm i.e. heart of atom.

Einstein's famous equation E = mc2 has shown that matter and energy are mutually transformable. The paradox presented by the waves of atoms and particles of light has been resolved by a new mathematical equation that permitts accurate description of quantum phenomena, either in terms of waves or in terms of particles, as one wished. Today the whole complex of the physical universe is almost resolved into homogeneous fabric in which matter and energy are indistinguishable; various forces found in nature, viz; the electromagnetic and weak nuclear forces have been unified; a grand unified theory combining the strong nuclear force with these two forces is under way; the abyss between macrocosm and microcosm is almost bridged; and there are hints of how the theory of quantum mechanics and general relativity might affect each other—a glimpse of the shape of a quantum theory of gravity is yet to come[73].

Thus, the Bh.S discusses the atomic conception in a descriptive manner. The various phases of an atom compel us to study them in the light of Modern Physics. The dynamic and changable nature of atoms, the highest speed and the different rules pertaining to the combinning forces of atom can be easily comprehensible in comparison to the newly invented atomic theories of Modern Physics. In some respects the Bh.S' view differs from that of Modern Physics. It clearly declares that the notion of elementary particles as the primary units of matter has to be abandoned. The reason is, the number of particles increased from three (Electron, Proton, and Neutron) to six by 1935, then to eighteen by 1955, and today we know more than two hundred 'elementary' particles.[74] They illustrate convincingly that the adjective 'elementary' is no longer very attractive in such a situation. As more and more particles were discovered over the years it became clearer that not all of them could be called 'elementary' and today there is a widespread belief among physicists that none of them deserves this name. On the other hand, the Bh.S strictly declares that there are infinitely infinite atoms throughout the cosmos, which are separate, indivisible, indestructible and imperceptible. Unlike Science, Jain Physics accepts that two atoms of the same quality (charge) can interact and combine together. Likewise questions such as the number of directions from which the atoms come to occupy space-units, needs further probing.

Footnotes:
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