By Ethan Siegel
“When we have found how the nucleus of atoms is built up we shall have found the greatest secret of all — except life.” –Ernest Rutherford
It’s been a staple of science throughout the centuries: the arrogant thinking that we’ve almost arrived at the ultimate answers to our deepest questions. Scientists thought that Newton’s mechanics described everything, until they discovered the wave nature of light. Physicists thought we were almost there when Maxwell unified electromagnetism, and then relativity and quantum mechanics came along. And many thought the nature of matter was complete when we discovered the proton, neutron and electron, until high-energy particle physics revealed an entire Universe of fundamental particles. In just the past 25 years, five incredible discoveries have changed our understanding of the Universe, and each one holds the promise of an even bigger revolution. There’s never been a better time to look into the deepest mysteries of existence.
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