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Writing with Atoms
Jul 1, 2007

Sometimes we make the mistake of thinking that the art and wisdom of small things are easier to make than those which are big in size. Said Nursi reveals how baseless such an assumption is with an example: A book which is written on an atom is more remarkable than a book written using the stars in the sky as letters. The art of small things requires greater techniques and knowledge. This is the reason why we are surprised when we hear of people writing a prayer on the head of a pin or a verse of the Qur’an, or some other phrase, on a grain of rice. Is it possible to copy a book onto an atom?

A group of scientists attempted to do just this; they used focused electron rays as their writing implement, rather than a pencil. Some researchers at Liverpool University developed a power source that can draw a line of light no thicker than the width of two atoms. This line is so narrow that if millions of them were to come together they would still fit inside the line drawn by the thinnest pencil lead. Drawing such lines would certainly not be something one could do by hand. The smallest vibration would cause the lines to converge. The only way to successfully do this is to send the electron rays by computer.

If we think that nearly 4 trillion atoms can fit on the head of a pin, which is accepted as being equal to one millimeter square, then we can understand how small atoms are. If we arrange the atoms as squares consisting of 100 atoms each, with 10 atoms at every edge, this means that we can get 40 billion of these squares on the head of a pin. We then put one letter into every one of those squares, with some squares being used as blank spaces between the words. If we think that on average there are six letters in a word, we can use 4.7 billion words to fill only 28 billion of our squares. There are nearly 50 million words in the Encyclopedia Britannica. Previously, it was thought that it would not be possible to fit the encyclopedia on the head of a pin, but now we can see that only one percent of the pinhead would be used up. Even if every letter were written ten times larger, it would still fit on the head of the pin. What a huge area a pinhead is! To see if their theory would work the researchers at Liverpool University placed one page of the encyclopedia on the pinhead.

One may wonder what use writing an encyclopedia on a pinhead could possibly be. We wouldn’t be able to read it, so is it not just a futile exercise? In the future, this technology may lead to some new developments, but for now, we can give an example about how this technology could be used by looking at the works of art created by the Divine Power. One of the wonderful examples of “books” in which atoms are used as letters is in the cell of a chromosome. God Almighty writes with His Pen of Power the coded programs and characteristics for living beings in the DNA molecules. The Human Genome Project has made it possible for us to read the genes in chromosomes; each of these can be compared to a library or a data bank. This development has shed a great deal of light on the biological secrets and features of the human being, which can be considered to be a “minor universe.”

How can so much knowledge fit into the DNA? DNA molecules are found in the chromosomes, which are packaged in the form of chromatin in the nucleus of a cell. If a DNA molecule was unfolded and each piece was to be laid side by side, it would measure up to 6 meters. In order to understand how many atoms can be found on such a long DNA, the following example may be of some assistance: if we place 75 million hydrogen atoms next to one another we make a hydrogen chain that is 1 cm. long. As each chromosome is 6 meters, and there are 46 chromosomes in a cell, the total length of the chromosomes in just one cell is approximately 300 meters. Now, if we remember the two-atom wide line drawn by the researchers at Liverpool University with the electron rays, (i.e., a million times thinner than the line drawn by a pencil), then we can imagine how small the DNA chain is in its folded state. In fact, this means to compress human being called micro cosmos as chromosome in 1/100.000 or 1/1.000.000 of one cm. Of course, this miraculous task is not the work of lifeless and unconscious beings called atoms or the result of confused coincidences, but must be the work of God, Whose every job is miraculous and Whose knowledge and power is eternal.

The Qur’an on an atom

Now, can the Qur’an be written on an atom? Since atoms are too small to be seen with the naked eye, let’s think of an apple that is the size of the earth; thus we will better be able to see the atoms, and the subject will be more easily understood.Like everything, an apple is also made of atoms. In such a huge apple, an atom is the size of a football. But still we cannot see the nucleus of the atom, including the neutron and proton. The space between the nucleus and the electron is a vast distance in the scale we are using. The radius of this distance is a ratio of 1/100,000 for the electron to the atom. If we imagine this electron to be in the size of a marble with a radius of 1 cm, this means that the nucleus is 1,000 meters away from the marble. When we enlarge the nucleus to the size of a football, the smallest atom (e.g. the hydrogen atom) is a sphere with a 2,000 meter radius. Then, how many Qur’an copies can we write using electrons, which are as big as marbles, or neutrons and protons which are 1,836 times larger than electrons, as letters. The Qur’an can be written 10 times, maybe even a 100 times on such a huge surface. One of the important things to note in these examples is that atom are almost entirely hollow. If we try to fill atom with nuclei, we need as many nuclei as 1015. If we write the Qur’an not only on the surface of the atom, but also on the inside and the cavities of that huge sphere, then thousands of Qur’an copies, each of which has 300,620 letters, can be written using atom nuclei as letters.

Amazing similarity

There are a hundred trillion cells in one person, whereas, the science of the human being can be summarized in just one cell. But from the aspect of what is contained in just one cell, the human being is more profound than the greatest written works. If a cell were conscious, most probably it would be just as amazed that it can be the index of humans as we are amazed at the concept that we are the index for the universe.

A human being is 1028 times larger than an atom. The sun is 1028 times larger than a man. This cannot be coincidence; therefore, must there not be some relation between the human, the atom and the sun?

The world is nothing more than one point in the solar system; a person is also like one point in the world. The Owner of the Book of the Universe, when summarizing this Divine Book known as the universe, encapsulated it in the human being, and when summarizing humans He encapsulated them in the tiny book written with the atoms called the genome. It is an interesting fact that the Exalted Creator created the solar system similar to the system in the atom. This indicates that the Creator of the universe is the same as the Creator of human beings. He created spheres like the sun and all other complicated systems and the atom to make us think about His artistry and to astonish us with their beauty.