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A proton’s mass is more just than the sum of its parts. And now scientists know just what accounts for the subatomic particle’s heft.

Protons are made up of even smaller particles called quarks, so you might expect that simply adding up the quarks’ masses should give you the proton’s mass. However, that sum is much too small to explain the proton’s bulk. And new, detailed calculations show that only 9 percent of the proton’s heft comes from the mass of constituent quarks. The rest of the proton’s mass comes from complicated effects occurring inside the particle, researchers report in the Nov. 23 Physical Review Letters.

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Quarks get their masses from a process connected to the Higgs boson, an elementary particle first detected in 2012 (SN: 7/28/12, p. 5). But “the quark masses are tiny,” says study coauthor and theoretical physicist Keh-Fei Liu of the University of Kentucky in Lexington. So, for protons, the Higgs explanation falls short.

Instead, most of the proton’s 938 million electron volts of mass is due to complexities of quantum chromodynamics, or QCD, the theory which accounts for the churning of particles within the proton. (1)

Not the sum of its parts…

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Can this be true in any way?

Everything is the sum of its parts. But some of the parts are invisible. And you need to know where to look for them. Why do we not see the QCD as part of the proton? Why don’t we see the soul as part of man? Why don’t we see man as part of the cosmos? Why don’t we see the cosmos as part of God?

Our ability to see the parts of things is intently related to our ability see just parts of those parts. For if we were able to see all the parts we would simply look at the whole…

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Blips of light. Cosmos full of nothing…

It may sound weird, but only when we look at no parts at all will we be able to see them all at once…

How can anything be part of something?

To what else can everything be part of?

If not part of nothing?

See the proton.

There is no proton.

Can you see its parts now?