By: Richard D. Hartwell


I read once – somewhere I cannot recall – that of the twenty-three human chromosomes, there are an extraordinary number of combinations. This – the unrecalled article went on – equates to ten to the seventieth power (1070), “more than the theoretical number of atoms in the universe!” or so it read.

I find such refinement in scientific pronouncements a bit self-limiting; something akin to starting out to count the number of grains of sand in all the oceans and seas and shores of the world, while those oceans and seas continue to produce sand grains as an ongoing process.

As for atoms – whether those in a grain of sand or those at the center of a star – the more we learn of subatomic particles and processes, the more we encounter the seeming conundrum of the creation of mass, let alone that of life.

The greater our theories expand to encompass explanations, the greater – or lesser if preferred – we approach an infinitely-expanding universe and an infinite regression into subatomic structure and creation itself.


Rick Hartwell is a retired middle school teacher (remember the hormonally-challenged?) living in Southern California. He believes in the succinct, that the small becomes large; and, like the Transcendentalists and William Blake, that the instant contains eternity. Given his “druthers,” if he’s not writing, Rick would rather still be tailing plywood in a mill in Oregon. He can be reached at



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