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"Everything around us is made from combinations of a small number of underlying elements. By Studying[sic] these elements and their transmutations, the Alchemist learns to understand the workings of the universe itself." - Asmodeus II
While we now know the identities of these underlying elements, there have been many theories in the past prior to our current accepted set of alchemical primes. One such theory modeled the smallest building blocks of the universe as triplets of "quarks", which gained some popularity with alchemists at the time. Unfortunately, it was later disproven by Carus Van Berlo after his isolation of the four cardinal elements.