I created this riddle while trying to sleep. And , I have decided to post it here, hoping that, unlike me, you could possibly get some sleep pondering over this.

An Ancient Puzzle
I am literally “the one that cannot be cut” ;
Yet so many times, people have tried to open me up ;
Aeons have I lived ;
But unbeknownst most have I been;
Everywhere and Everything I am ;
Yet, ye can see me only through a ‘cam’ ;
Mostly empty I am inside ;
Save for a dot that always hides;
Allow me to tell ye of my family ;
A Brother I hath ;
So much we hate each other that we should never touch ;
Though we love each other so much that nothing can prevent us from meeting as such ;
Three Sons have I ;
Two are opposites- they never see eye to eye ;
One is always neutral about them as am I ;
Change my attire many times I must ;
Losing my sons every time, only just ;
Yet, do so I always hath ;
For from the natural law, no one escapeth ;

Can ye, O stupefied reader ;
Find me in this Puzzler? ;

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THE ANSWER

I find it rather strange that no one could find the answer(I prefer not to consider that no one came on this post). Even stranger given that I wrote the answer almost times in “A Brief History… Of Everything”.

The ‘very’ simple answer is …THE ATOM! Allow me to clarify:

An Ancient Puzzle
I couldn’t think of a better name

I am literally the one that cannot be cut;
“ATOMOS”(that’s atom in Greek) literally means ‘indivisible’ or ‘not to cut’

Yet so many times people have tried to open me up;
This refers to the scores of curious little men who have tried countless times(and finally succeded) to probe the atom and its structure

Aeons have I lived;
The atom(of Hydrogen and Helium is) ‘only about 350000 years younger than the ‘Big Bang’- that makes the atom about 13.7 billion years old. Still in its teen years, right?

But unbeknownst to most have I been;
There are not many people out there who know what the atom is all about( this seems to include those who have read this puzzle as well!)

Everywhere and Everything I am ;
Cannot be clearer than this. I’ll just use Lord Kelvin’s sayying to enumerate one measure of the atom- the mole.
Kelvin said that if you decided to mix a glass of water in the Ocean and took another glass from this mixture, you would get a hundred of your original atoms everytime. This may sound confusing. A better explanation goes thus: “remember that everytime you drink a glass of water, you are drinking atleast one atom that went through Aristotle’s bladder!”(I stopped looking at a glass of water in the same way after I heard this explanation)

Yet, ye can see me only through a ‘cam’;
The only way to ‘see’ the atom nowadays is to use an STM(scanning tunnelling microscope) or an AFM(atomic force microscope). Fact is we cannot ‘see’ it in reality as the atom is way smaller than the smallest wavelength of light that we can really see(red, blue…). So, scientists use electrical impulses to ‘see’ it in a screen. Enough explanations now, moving on…

Mostly empty I am inside ;
Our dear friend Rutherford would have quite a lot to say about this. He was the first to put forth the idea.In his own words: shooting the atom with alpha particles(helium nuclei) is trying to stop a bullet with a tissue paper!

Save for a dot that always hides;
Yup, that’s the nucleus we’re talking about- the good old house for the neutron and the proton.

Allow me to tell ye of my family;
We’d love to hear about them!

A Brother I hath;
That’s the anti-atom(all the stuff about anti-matter). It contains the anti-particles of the atom.(positron for electrons, anti-proton for proton and anti-neutron for neutron).

So much we hate each other that we should never touch ;
Now for the most infamous equation in history. e=mc^2. All their masses become pure energy upon meeting(gamma rays and stuff). Old Einstein would be so happy!

 

Though we love each other so much that nothing can prevent us from meeting as such ;
Positive negative, action and attraction- that’s what this is all about.

Three Sons have I ;
And then were the neutron, the proton and the elecron.

Two are opposites- they never see eye to eye ;
Proton rhymes with positive and electron with negative charges. They are opposites( though there are quarks but that is not very relevant here)

One is always neutral about them as am I ;
Neutron rhymes with neutral. The atom is neutral as well- equal positive charges and negative charges cancel out. If that wasn’t the case, you would probably have been stuck(literally) to your laptop screen while reading this !

Change my attire many times I must ;
That’s the case of Radioactive Decay! An unstable atom changes to a more stable one.(google ‘fukushima’ and there’s nothing you wouldn’t know about it). There are many types of decays.

Losing my sons every time, only just ;
An example would clarify things up. In a Classic Decay type, Uranium(the stuff used nuclear) changes to Thorium by emitting helium nucleus( 2 protons and 2 neutrons). The process can be understood by simple addition of numbers.

Yet, do so I always hath ;
For from the natural law, no one escapeth ;
Could not be clearer. Decay always happens whenever it has to.

Can ye, O stupefied reader ;
Find me in this Puzzler? ;
I doubt that I have to explain this part!!

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We’ve got no money, so we’ve got to think.“Rutherford

 

 


 

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