“Nothing is hidden that will not be made known
Nothing is secret that will not come to light”
-Dan Brown

I, the building block of every type of matter in the universe stayed hidden from mankind in plain sight not because I was shy. But I didn’t want to intimidate anyone with my potential. But I could not stay hidden for a long time as exploration is known to be the essence of human spirits.

Man realized my existence as early as 600 BC when an Indian natural scientist and philosopher Maharishi Kanada hypothesized that every matter can be subdivided and subdivision cannot go on forever. There will be indivisible smallest entities which he called. He said I am eternal and I can aggregate in different ways to yield complex substances and bodies with unique identity. He also proposed that this process involved heat and is the basis for all material existence.

Later in 460-370BC, the Greek Philosopher Democritus deduced that all matter were composed of small indivisible pieces called atoms. Thus I got to be named “Atom” rendered from the Greek word atmos meaning indivisible. He also postulated that I can combine or separate. Even though they proposed my identity, my inner secrets of my structure and power were lying unexplored till 1800’s.

It was in 1804 a British chemist John Dalton rekindled the interest of mankind to open the Pandora box of my secrets with his atomic theory. He defined that I look like a ball and his model about me was known as billiard ball model. I was happy that he could not understand everything about me and my important details are still remaining as secret. But my happiness was short lived.

In 1897, an English physist, J.J.Thomson found that I contain tiny negatively charged subatomic particles or electrons. He proposed that I look like a plum pudding where negatively-charged electrons are embedded like plums within a positively-charged "soup." Thus he started to unravel the fact that I am not a single entity but I am made up of sub atomic particles.

In 1911, a scientist named Ernest Rutherford further revealed how I may look to the world. He emphasized that I am made up of a positively charged nuclei and my electrons are orbiting around the nuclei. In 1913 Neils Bohr, further revealed that I am having a positively charged nuclei around which electrons orbit in fixed circular paths called shells.

Later in 1926, Erwin Schrödinger further found out that I am not so predictable that anyone could find out where an electron inside me resides as I am not static as thought by Bohr. He revealed to the world that electrons are orbiting around the nucleus as electron clouds in an atomic orbital, a region inside the atom where the probability of finding an electron is the highest. Thus he established that position of an electron could not be definitely pin pointed but probability of finding could be established.

When every scientist in the world were trying to unravel my physical structure and beauty, I was at least satisfied that no one realized my power or energy even though Rutherford in 1903 began to speak of my possible potential, atomic energy. An English author, teacher H. G. Wells popularized the phrase "splitting the atom” even before the discovery of the atomic nucleus in his book “The world set free” in 1913. He predicted the splitting of the uranium atom and the subsequent invention of the atomic bomb in his book. I was scared that mankind should not realize this power of me and try to unleash it and here come a man who was imagining my power and writing a book.

In 1932 Leo Szilard read this book and by 1933 after certain article in times he started to conceive the concept of nuclear chain reaction and patented the idea in 1936 and started to unleash my power which I was scarred would destroy this world. I really didn’t want that to happen. In 1932 another scientist James Chadwick discovered that I have apart from negatively charged electron and positively charged protons, I also contain uncharged particles which he named as neutrons.

In 1934 in Rome a scientist named Fermi accidentally splitted uranium atom into lighter elements without realizing its implications. Thus he laid the foundation for the development of atomic bomb which would demonstrate my destructive energy to the world. In 1938 Hahn, Meitner, and Strassmann became the first to recognize and demonstrate that when bombarded by neutrons, uranium atom actually split. They termed this phenomenon as nuclear fission. Now after this every one of them realized that nuclear fission could release enormous amount of energy and this energy could be tapped. In 1942, this scientific theory transformed into technological reality in the name of Chicago Pile –I, first self-sustaining nuclear reactor.

Even though I was scared and unhappy that they realized my power I was consoling myself that they may use my energy for generating electricity which would be a boon for mankind. But to my despise all the early researches were for developing a nuclear bomb as H.G.Wells envisioned in his novel.

Manhattan Project was born in 1942 which led to the development of atomic bombs little boy and Fat man under the directorship of Robert J. Oppenheimer with Fermi, Leo Szilard and others on board. The names of the bombs may sound funny but they wiped out lakhs of humans from earth in 1945 and several thousands more in years to follow. A new powerful, most dangerous weapon on earth was born. For years to come the whole world participated in this nuclear race as everyone wanted to hold this weapon made out of me to show their strength. I was hiding myself for a very long era as I did not want the humans to use me for their territorial gains as I knew and understood them as greedy beings. But man’s inquisitiveness at last made me a part of this destruction and I still feel guilty and helpless.

But one good thing is mankind finally understood the destruction I could cause and they could not blame me as it was because of their greed they saw my wrath. Now they realized that instead of using me for destruction of this world they must tap my energy for peaceful applications to make the world a better place to live in. Now I play an important role in the areas of power generation, agriculture, health care, food preservation, industry and research. I am happy to be a part of improving the lives of the mankind.

I still have deep secrets and the mankind is still trying to unravel them. It is not easy to satisfy the mankind. But it is equally not easy to completely understand me and tame me.

“There is a constant struggle between good and evil in the world.
It is up to the good people to choose the right side”
-Nelson Mandela.