First post and let me just say that after viewing this forums rules and it's warning system, I very much appreciate your efforts to keep this area within a realm of discussion instead of name-calling like you see on the usenet groups. Ok, now that cheesy statement is over let me get on with my question. With the scanning tunneling microscope we are able to see, visually, the energy shells that surround the nucleus of an atom. Given our knowledge of how small the atomic nucleous is in relation to the electron cloud, isn't it slightly ironic that the electrons that move inside this cloud are actually microscopic in comparison to the size of a single proton which makes up the whole of the nucleous. I found that relation to be puzzling. This statement came about while I was thinking of the nature of 'space' and how matter exists within it. The 'why' of my line of thinking is due to my dislike of the idea of dark matter and dark energy as well as my disbelief that there is such a thing as a 'graviton' or any particle that can be defined as belonging to gravity. I think the photon holds the throne on that theory. Anyhow, I'm interested in learning or hearing others opinions about the nature of space on both a quantum and universal scale. First there's the space that is contained within the electron cloud of an atom. This space is obviously different than the space contained outside, else why is there a cloud? What is going on inside? Sure there's measurable amounts of energy that we can push into the cloud to cause the electron to change to a higher energy state but is this binding energy only a relationship between the subatomic particles alone or is there some property of the space these particles reside in that also contributes to the total energy needed to keep the particles from flying apart. I've always envisioned space literally as a fabric made of threads which are weaved together. Each intersect of thread creates a point and many points to create a plane. Throw in some atoms and the fabric begins to stretch. At this point I'm not sure which is happening, is the fabric being displaced outward by the atom or is it being compressed? When cosmologists say that regular matter accounts for only about 4% of the total mass of the universe are they also taking into consideration the volume of space inside the electron cloud? A space that is flexible, stretchable, and compressible? I'm looking forward to listening to other's ideas.