There is no such thing as a smallest object; no smallest particle can exist. For such a particle, containing no sub-parts could possess no dimensions—and quantum physics openly concedes dimensionless particles…though it misses the broader rational consequences of this idea. And thus it could not be said to have a location in space, and thus would exists nowhere; it would exist therefore at no time. A dimensionless particle lacks a “what”, so it lacks a “where”, so it lacks a “when”.
A dimensionless particle, absent sub-parts, and thus existing literally nowhere in space could only be described mathematically. And in quantum physics this is the case. So, to be clear, quantum physics will declare the objective and indisputable existence of objects with no dimensions which thus cannot be empirically verified (lacking a specific “what”, “where”, and “when”) whilst at the same time completely aware that these particles only “exist” as mathematical equations, because this is the only possible way of “knowing” that they exist at all. Scientists will run experiments and smash atoms and set up billions of dollars of tax-payer funded detection equipment to record “evidence” of the “objective” and “empirical” existence of mathematical equations, completely immersed in a cognitive dissonance which tells them that it is possible to record tangible evidence of an utterly intangible conceptual representation; that the physical effects which the machines record is the product of the cognitively abstract which the machines cannot detect.
When what is being scientifically studied is no longer observable according to the very definitions science uses to describe it, we are not longer being scientific.