It's nothing new to state that the universe is teeming with activity. And that only a very small part is visible to us.
The big difference here will be the way to understand how this can be. Instead of looking at the visible and trying to work it all out, there may be another way.
Humanity has come a long way in understanding how it all works. The fields of the biggest (cosmology) and the smallest (particle physics) are at the edges of understanding. It was logical to conclude that while looking at the smallest and looking at the furthest, there would be a point where it all becomes invisible, unless you can figure out a different way to look at it all. We will probably find new ways to expand our scope in those fields.
But maybe we also need to look at it all in a new way to figure out new ways to expand it. (our scope)
I think we have enough information to start looking at it all from a different angle.
The 'invisible' part
Most activity happens at a resolution we can’t detect (yet). During one bit of this activity, every kind of energy, from the lightest to the very heavy, is temporarily created when the photon interacts with itself. Some of this energy is already becoming matter and antimatter particles. Some of them annihilate and become other particles or photons again.
But some get a bit heavier, but then collapse similar to the way a sun can collapse. (The infinities in the formulas are real)
All of this happens in an infinitesimally small amount of space and time.
If there is nothing much happening in the vicinity, this goes almost unnoticed.
That is what the quantum fluctuations are.
All the fields we know of (and maybe still don't know of) are an emergent effect of those quantum fluctuations.
But the chance that nothing more happens in this bit of activity is very small, as we have seen earlier that some annihilation causes some photons that will interact again in the same way. Almost the same happens, but now some heavy matter and antimatter particles get to interact with multiple other matter and antimatter particles. As there are bigger annihilations, there are also heavier particles forming which can again collapse into a super-tiny collapsed sun (not gonna use its popular name here yet, before people start to panic for no reason).
At the same time, some of the heavier particles interact with others to form even heavier ones. And the annihilations in the vicinity cause them to accelerate which causes new emergent effects.
This continues process causes some particles and antiparticles to very temporarily become visible.
This is what virtual particles are.
This all happens continuously and everywhere (yes, everywhere as in everywhere). If you look at your hand and imagine the space between the atoms, it happens there too. And it even happens throughout the atoms or anything else in existence or that you can imagine.
This is what the invisible universe is.
The 'visible' part
The buildup of what happened above and its emergent effects of a photon interacting with itself are nothing compared to what happens next.
We will now look at some familiar matter. The part we know best, because we can see and touch most of it, emerges in a more complex way than the part we don't see, but it is very similar.
What we know about matter is important to keep in mind for this part. Now we will look at what happens in the 'invisible' part and add charges in the mix. People who know about spin can add that and other quantum stuff too, but without it, it's already pretty complicated.
As the whole quantum fluctuation and virtual particle stuff goes on, some regions will have many unstable particles and many stable ones. We tend to see stability as a border where, on one side the particles exist too short to be accounted for as matter.
This part of the border was discovered when we started smashing particles together really hard.
This is what 'the particle zoo' is.
And on the other side, the particles that 'live' longer exist. The continuous interaction of the photon with itself simultaneously creates the mutual existence of the leptons e.g. electrons, quarks and forces e.g. gravity.
(much more on leptons, quarks and forces in another chapter)
This is what the elemental particles are.
If they were living things, we would call that a symbiotic relationship, but one where nobody gets to leave. They are however allowed to go wherever they want, as long as they don’t leave the system.
This is what the conservation of energy is.
All of those particles are however very important. There are all kinds of particles and combinations of particles in existence, but because of the very limited attention span of our sensors and sensory equipment, we tent to only pay attention to the ones that are stable.
The synergy of all particle interactions eventually becomes the elements. And the chemical compositions are, in turn, the synergy of the elements.
This is what the elements and their chemical compositions are.
This can happen when the accumulations of these particles form pairs and get arranged in the right combinations. Matter gets created of which some gets annihilated which causes some to get accelerated. That causes some matter to accumulate and get heavier for some bigger annihilations causing some bigger accelerations and bigger accumulations of matter. (this is including antimatter)
This is what matter is.
Some of these very big accumulations of matter will be unstable and split into smaller ones causing more matter and photon action. The process continues and now the accumulation and splitting of matter will cause more stable matter, but again some annihilating, some splitting and some collapsing.
This is what the visible universe is.
There's much more going on in the invisible universe than our sensors can currently detect. Find out more about that in the next section.