As promised, here is the longer passage from George Leonard:
The subtle dance of the body joins us to the world. But what is this body? Of what is it made?
… is the body really solid? Our customary perceptions tell us that the skin is relatively smooth and inoffensive, while the flesh beneath is something terrible to behold: an oozing mass of sinews and tubes and meat. Through a microscope, however, the skin on a fingertip is a series of mountain ranges on a desolate moonscape, a crusting, flaking surface pockmarked with holes. A section of muscle tissue, on the other hand appears as an elegant latticework, a thing of symmetry and beauty. Whether skin, flesh or bone, however, this body of ours appears to be entirely solid and substantial.
We can penetrate even more deeply. The electron-scanning microscope, with the power to magnify several thousand times, takes us down into a realm that has the look of the sea about it. Now the pores of the skin open like ocean caves, and we have to be told that the submarine creatures clinging to the convoluted walls are nothing more than ordinary bacteria.
… The electron microscope allows us these perceptions of the body, a beautiful and terrible place, seemingly as spacious as the sea. Within this spaciousness though, is still solidity; the flesh has not yet resolved itself into a dew.
… As the magnification increases, the flesh does begin to dissolve. Muscle fiber now takes on a fully crystalline aspect. We can see that it is made of long, spiral molecules in orderly array. And all these molecules are swaying like wheat in the wind, connected with one another and held in place by invisible waves that pulse many trillions of times a second.
What are the molecules made of? As we move closer, we see atoms, tiny shadowy balls dancing around their fixed locations in the molecules, sometimes changing position with their partners in perfect rhythm. And now we focus on one of the atoms; its interior is lightly veiled by a cloud of electrons. We come closer, increasing the magnification. The shell dissolves and go on inside to find… nothing.
Somewhere within that emptiness, we know, is a nucleus. We scan the space, and there it is, a tiny dot. At last, we have discovered something hard and solid, a reference point. But no – as we move closer to the nucleus, it too begins to dissolve. It too is nothing more than an oscillating field, waves of rhythm. Inside the nucleus are other organized fields: protons, neutrons, even smaller “particles.” Each of these, upon our approach, also dissolves into pure rhythm.
Scientists continue to seek the basic building blocks of the physical world. These days, they are looking for quarks, strange subatomic entities, having qualities that they describe with such words as “upness, downness, charm, strangeness, truth, beauty, color, and flavor.” But no matter. If we could get close enough to these wondrous quarks, they too would melt away. They too would have to give up all pretense of solidity. Even their speed and position would be unclear, leaving them only relationship and pattern of vibration.
Of what is the body made? It is made of emptiness and rhythm. At the ultimate heart of the body, at the heart of the world, there is no solidity. Once again, there is only the dance.
~ George Leonard, The Silent Pulse, pg 37