Einstein won the Nobel prize in 1921 for his work on solving the photoelectric effect with the speculation that light had a quanta characteristic or definition of amount and frequency that are characteristic of a particle. Light seemed to have a wave-particle duality and there it has been since. Quantum mechanics has treated events as intervals of quanta selected for measurement purposes. Quanta as units of energy simultaneously with a wave nature for nearly a century was the quantum mechanical paradigm-today some would revert to a simple waveform nature of the quantum world-yet that would be at variance with sting theory and membranes; from some perspectives a loop may seem like a particle. Relative perspective seems to be important; it is difficult to say that there should be an indivisible basic particle however-when scientists aren't exactly certain there are particles as fundamental units for quantum composition of the Universe.
Approaches to particle primacy may be less than plain-quantum entanglement means that relations exist between quanta at a distance; they comprise parts of conserved information and a more fundamental structure than particles or quanta, although it is possible that a basic particle exists as a smallest unit of mass that exists as a discernible appearance even though it is not a fundamental or primary structure...a field seems to be that, and a monistic field of some sort.
In a sense the philosophical challenge of imagining anything to exist as a primary or essentially indivisible unit or fact is challenging. say that the unit is a field of infinitely large or small size (simultaneously?) such as at the singularity at T=0 for the Universe-what is it 'made of' and why cannot it be divided in to smaller units? The philosophical challenges of smallest units of existence are difficult to think about conclusively.
If one has a smallest unit of matter then one must have lots of them to account for apparent structures of existing such as quarks and etc. The multiplication of one standard unit avoids the philosophical issues of thinking about what just one substance is and how it could not be divided further, and of how the relationships between such units exist. What if the fundamental unit of the one field is intelligence or information as the neo-Platonist philosopher Plotinus believed in the third century? Would information account for quantum entanglement and relationships of quantum at faster than light speed? Do they need to 'communicate' through alternate dimensions? Could the information flow of the unified field be a qualitative phenomena fundamentally differing from the 'matter' of everything else in the universe in a way analogous to the qualitative difference between mind and matter? Might their be an information content to the quantum effects that fit in not especially well in a normal geometry of special relativity for the Universe?
There was a couple of articles in spring 2009 on quantum effects and special relativity, dark energy and space-time expansion that stimulate thought about the phenomenality of a pervading fundamental field and information...yet for now I will return to more standard speculations...
The basic particle could have appeared in the Universe evolving from something else, and may disappear after further evolutions. Maybe the values of a basic particle change over time. A basic particle might be one defined statistically as the most ubiquitous regardless of hierarchical position amidst other particles. Maybe God has something like a Federal Reserve Board that determines the value of basic particles now and then before they are allowed to appear as virtual particles. Perhaps the basic particle is the golden particle-the photon that has been voted most popular particle for millions of years in Hollywood. A particle however could be a shill for something deeper than particles such as strings, membranes or what-have-you-could that be fair?
In a recent Scientific American article a scientist wrote affirmatively that atoms of space exist and that soon they probably will be discovered. Particles of space would help balance cosmology equations in some cases so they are posited to exist in order to explain all of that void, that may not really exist-who can really say right now? The distance or space between energy particles and locations may actually be a phenomena of misleading appearance such that the real components of the field are so low that they cannot be detected. After all if particles of space existed wouldn't they need to interact in some way with mass or energy in some relationship apposite to matter instead of anti-matter? With the protocols of things that exist in the particle hierarchy all the way down to strings and a basic field that ties together all of the discrete appearances of mass-energy within a continuum in what way would particles or atoms of space fit in? Space-time being so closely related an interacting so well and continuously would need to tie in with atoms and mass simultaneously and proportionally-that seems improbable yet necessary.
So this basic particle of mass that one can hypothesize about would be an interesting invariant creature able to exist for quite a while as the thermodynamic facts of life of the Universe continue along the eons. The basic particle may change its characteristics now and then every billion years or whatever and then would it be the same? What would be the relationship between the 'basic' particle and everything in the macrocosm and in the quantum mechanical world of uncertainty. Would the basic particle be in more than one place at once like many other particles, and if uncertainty in space-and time coexist would that mean the basic particle and any potential particles of space 'communicate' with each other in an interrelated way as part of the field of the 'extended basic particles' of mass and space? Those questions seem a bit tentatively answered at best right now and perhaps incorrectly.
Particles are solely a convenient way of describing quantum waves or photon packets. As particles or waves are measured for speed or momentum their corresponding reciprocal value becomes fuzzy. The quantum units are part of a unified field beyond present physical description, and are local use values for function field theories that match up with practical perceptions, thoughts about quantum events and such derived from experience.
The universe is ultimately a part of a monistic entity regardless of the appearances of pluralism. a smallest particle would be only an illusory semblance of a stage in the process of God's evolution of the Universe at a time when people believed the Universe was made of particles. If the universe had initially expanded from a singular dirt clod then it might be so that an infinitesimally small speck of dirt could be the fundamental building block of the Universe. Mass, energy and the forms it takes through space-time is a unified field=even dimensions will be found to have some sort of field characteristic too logically comprising another protocol in the one penultimate set issued by the Creator of all that ever is.
As in the Heisenberg uncertainty principle's limitation of determining either the location or the speed of a particle yet not both simultaneously the observable quantum world is affected by the observer-all hypothetically observable particles would be affected by the selected observation as the observer is part of a unified field him/her-self selecting a nominal relationship to a quantum wavicle or wave packet that exists at a particular degree of protocol within the not understood quantum cosmology of the Universe(s)...
I believe that God created the Universe. An emanation from the One permitting the Intelligence or Spirit to create a Universe forms something physicists believe 'originated' from an expanded singularity with the highest theoretical order and minimal size. The Universe may have a proximal origin yet God is atemporal and the Universe is His production so there probably are within protocols of physics infinite characteristics reflecting the infinite nature of God. That does not mean that all things or quantifies are infinite-the pluralism with a monism serves a purpose consistent with God's teleos.
That one universe-particle so small than trillions could fit on the head of a pin-if a pin had existed, did not have even the four known elemental forces of physics including gravity-there was just one field-perhaps a field named for the physicist Peter Higgs that may yet exist today. The design of that field has led researchers to consider pre-big-bang theories to postulate in math models what existed to be a singularity or apparent singularity that grew into the space time and four known dimensions. From that singularity extra dimensions are believed to have formed that are smaller than the three of space and one of time we experience. The extra dimensions could be part of normal space-time for other Universes or not. Is is believed that the relations of energy and mass in space-time is in part as it seems to be to human beings because of the innate cognitive processing methods of human consciousness and intelligence. Because the human mind perceives the Universe the way it does, and because the human mind invented mathematics it is consistent that the physical universe or universe perceived by human beings matches up closely with human made math models of that Universe of experience-what it might be for-itself is something of a philosophical question.
What cosmologists can do is to consider the state of the forces of the Universe's energy and mass (E=mc)and describe the relative composition of the mass and energy, its age, is quantitative and qualitative relationships and characteristics and prospects based on extrapolations of the continuum's history and present. Quantum mechanics deals with the smallest known physical components. Since 18th and 19th century physicists followed up on the atomism philosophy of Democritus quantum mechanics as pursued smaller and smaller particles until recently string theory was developed to transcend the standard model of particle physics. Strings and branes may replace particles in scientific physics one day. Particles and quantum characteristic such as quantum superposition and quantum entanglement may be replaced by theories about string and brane relationships in other dimensions as well as the role of the observer in his/her own space-time coordinate.
Quantum cosmology is likely to replace smaller and smaller independent particles existing in various protocols with string and brane protocols existing in macro space-time dimensional roles. Space and time may have more unification that even a simple unified field theory may hypothesize. The future and past along with other formations of mass-energy in time could be rich phenomenalities of a unified field universe amidst universes.
It is worth remembering what God said about the Garden of Eden in the book of Genesis; "22And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever: 23Therefore the LORD God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken. 24So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life."
This passage gives me interest to consider that even the big bang and direction of time may be a consequence of the fall of Adam and Eve eating the fruit of the tree of knowledge. The cherubim may be the guards of the four dimensions of space-time that contain time and the direction of time. To overcome the limitations of the Universe with comprehension of the functions of the unified, integrated universe(s) field(s) and extra-dimensions might be an activity with consequences perhaps beyond the range of human wisdom.