Lord Kapila's Sankhya philosophy delineates the 24 elements (starting with the five gross elements of earth, water, sky, air and ether) as the basic building blocks of existence. This is quite different from what we Westerners are taught in school - that everything consists of molecules, atoms, and subatomic particles. We also read in our science textbooks, that before the microscope, scientists thought that a substance called phlogiston was the basic irreducible element in everything. In chemistry and physics classes we also learned that the chart of the elements is what matter is all about. The space between electrons and the nucleus of each atom is far, far greater than the diameter of each atom's nucleus. This would mean that even solid wood would be mostly space, and therefore not solid. I'm sure science has a way of explaining this apparent contradiction, but the need for `lateral' thinking about the elements is needed.
A professer at Carleton University of Ottawa, Canada purportedly said this:
"The pursuit of truth is like picking raspberries. You miss a lot if you approach it from only one angle."