Meet Dr. Allen Utke of the Department of Chemistry at University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, who studies atoms. Part 1/4.
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The Mysteries of Matter Part ¼ Laura Wells: Foragers, thinkers and truth seekers of every kind of asked questions like, where did the world come from and what it is made off? And if you take a thing and cut it down into smaller and smaller pieces, what do you find? In the fifth century B.C, democrats and others in Greece suggested that all material objects were made of tiny everlasting particles they called atoms, a word meaning indivisible and their belief, the eternal oneness of the atom was reflection of the ultimate, eternal oneness of existence. Hello and welcome to Matter & Beyond. I’m your host Laura Wells. Einstein’s groundbreaking theories in the subsequent development of nuclear weapons shuttered certain long held notions of the atom. Still, many scientists continue to find atoms and molecules, sources of great wonder and inspiration. Dr. Allen: I grew up in a religious family and I didn’t really start getting exposed to science until grade school. High school, a little more science, a little more chemistry, a little more physics, still religion and science seemed to be two separate things in my life. Religion was most prominent. College however, I began to realize how deeply science understood nature in reality. Male: For centuries, chemist and other scientist working to unlock the secrets of the elements have led society to spectacular advancements as well as new challenges. Dr. Allen: I was exposed to deeper and deeper ideas particularly in chemistry with regard to atoms and I began to realize that beyond my religious upbringing, there is what you might call a second book. That’s very important and that’s the book of nature. And I began to wonder about how my religion and my science could fit together. Male: Atoms and molecules, keys to the mystery of matter. How do the same basic components come together to form all the different things in our universe from gigantic stars and planets to the tiny cells of every living being? Dr. Allen: And more and more, I began to think that these two things are related somehow. And so I’ve spent the last probably 50 years trying to put those two things together as best I can. Male: The search for meaning is as old as humanity itself. Who am I? Where did I come from? And what is my purpose here? Our timeless questions. Dr. Allen: Spirituality to me and others may disagree with me is it’s simply realizing that everything is interconnected. There’s a oneness to reality. If you touch one thing in reality, you touch all of reality. And I think it’s that realization that you are part and we are indeed part of a bigger reality which is all interconnected. To me, that’s spirituality. Now, if everything is interconnected and there is a oneness to reality, a wholeness to reality, I don’t see how you can stop but ask the next question, is there a one behind the oneness? And now, you’re in the area of religion. And religion, also history has answered that from many perspectives. There have been different viewpoints on what that one maybe like and I think that’s what I call the game of the oneness and the many. We all strive to see that oneness is particularly science but once you’ve achieved in your own mind that oneness and seen that oneness, the question then becomes, is there a one beyond that? And now, you’re in the area of religion.