Today I wish to write about you. Or more accurately, I wish to write about your history. Like others, you may be interested in genealogy to get a better understanding of whoyou are. But I wish to go beyond genealogy so you will get a better understanding of what you are.
Your history goes back a long, long time. It all started about 13.8 billion years ago. It began with a tiny speck or point that was smaller than an atom. Physicists, astronomers, and mathematicians refer to that speck as the singularity. It was an orb of infinitely dense and compressed space-time, which had a temperature too hot to imagine (measured in trillions of degrees).
The infinitely compressed singularity had no mass, just energy. In what is called the Big Bang, it erupted with an incomprehensible force, spewing space, energy, and time in all directions at a rate faster than the speed of light. In a fraction of a second, the emerging universe grew from the size of an atom to the size of a grape fruit. Cosmologists call this early period the inflation.
Initially, the four fundamental forces of the universe — gravity, electromagnetism, and the strong and weak nuclear forces — were unified, but the intense explosions, implosions, collisions, and heat tore them apart. This happened 10 million trillion trillion trillionths of a second after the Big Bang.
As Einstein taught, energy can be converted to mass, and within the first second or so of the birth of the universe, the collision of photons lead to the creation of protons, neutrons, and electrons, the building blocks of atoms. At this time, the temperature of the universe also cooled from approximately 100 million trillion trillion degrees to 10 billion degrees.
After the first three or four minutes the temperature fell to one billion degrees, enabling protons and neutrons to combine and form the nuclei of heavier elements, mainly helium and hydrogen. And after 300,000 years passed, the universe cooled to 3,000 degrees, allowing electrons to combine with atomic nuclei to form atoms.
Although explosions conjure up images of bright light, the first 200 million years of the universe, known as the cosmic dark ages, was a period without light. This is followed by the introduction of stars and galaxies. And it is in the nuclear fusion of the stars that all the elements of the Periodic Table werecreated. So, everything around us, including ourselves, is made from ‘star dust.’
Since its inception the universe has been expanding, and now it is home to an estimated 100 to 200 billion galaxies, each of which contains hundreds of billions of stars. Considering the size and number of stars, the universe is obviously colossal. The diameter of the known universe is about 93 billion light-years. How does that measurement of time translate into a measurement of space? Well, one light year is equal to six trillion miles; so, multiply that by 93 billion times and you will have the diameter of the universe in miles.
Now let’s move closer to home. Our solar system was created about 4.6 billion years ago, with our own planet, earth, fully formed about 4.5 billion years ago. The earth was at first molten, and after cooling, a crust formed on its surface. After 200 million years, the three conditions for life were present. That is, there was an energy source (the sun), complex organic compounds from meteorites or comets, and water.
Geologically speaking, life sprang into existence very quickly. Early, primitive forms of life didn’t require oxygen, but cyanobacteria produced oxygen through photosynthesis and later algae helped to oxygenate the earth. About 3.6 billion years ago, the waters were teeming with one-celled organisms. For about three billion years life flourished, but remained single-celled plants and animals.
Then a remarkable event took place. It is called the Cambrian Explosion. It was sort of the Big Bang of animal evolution. You see, about 542 million years ago almost all of the modern animal phyla (groups or families) appear at the same time. They all appear in the fossil record in the same strata.
Equally noteworthy is the miracle of reproduction, for life had the intelligence to create reproduction to sustain itself. Reproduction is purpose driven and is a sign of the intelligence that imbues life. Although for the early single-celled organisms division of the body was all that was necessary to multiply, advanced forms of life required a full-fledged reproductive system.
The beginnings of your ancestral line, mammals, appeared about 185 million years ago. The great apes appeared 20 million years ago; Homo, the prehumen, 2.5 million years ago;AMHS (anatomically modern Homo sapiens), 200,000 years ago.
From then on man steadily advanced (for details visit here):
· Hunters and Gatherers (20,000~12,000 years ago)
· First Farming Societies (12,000~5,000 years ago)
· Early Civilizations (3000~1500 BC)
· Ancient Empires (1500~0 BC)
· Developing States (AD 0~1000)
· Medieval Period (AD 1000~1500)
And after 500+ years later, YOU arrived. Consider how hard the universe worked for 13.8 billion years just to make you. Why does the universe exist? Isn’t it so you can experience life? You are a part of and the reason for the miracle of creation. We are unbelievably small specks in a vast universe, yet our mind is large enough to contain it. We are a tool the universe uses to express its majesty and grandeur. It has made us coauthors of the cosmos, for while it has created the heavens and stars, we have created space ships, art, music, math, science, language, technology, the Internet, computers, architecture, philosophy, microscopes, cameras, telescopes, and countless other wonders.
This amazing relationship between man and the universe has been noted by others. For example, Ray Bradbury (1920~2012) has this to say, “We are the miracle of force and matter making itself over into imagination and will. Incredible. The Life Force experimenting with forms. You for one. Me for another. The Universe has shouted itself alive. We are one of the shouts.”
You and the universe are inseparable. It is a part of you and you are a part of it. Its boundless power permeates everything.Knowing this, can you see how small your problems are? Can you see how anything is possible? Can you see how no dream is too big? Can you see how silly it is to worry about what others think? When you feel overwhelmed, depressed, anxious, or discouraged, stop thinking about who you are and remind yourself what you are. You are a child of the universe. Claim your power and let it shine. Just as the stars are fueled by their own power, your internal universe has endless resources available. Tap into yourpower, and use it for something greater than yourself.
Here is a valuable tip from Alan Tutt, “Your worth as a person does not depend on what you have, what you have done, nor on what you can do. You are valuable simply because you exist. The reasons why gold, platinum, and gemstones are valuable are because they are rare, and because they have qualities we all admire. You are far more rare (and valuable) than any gemstone, simply because there is only ONE of you. We all start out in life in a “raw form” and we usually need some shaping and polishing before our true value becomes apparent for all to see. If so, decide that you’re worth the effort, and take every opportunity to develop your unique qualities.”
The story of the Big Bang is the story of science. Yet, what story can be more wondrous, more implausible, more outside the realm of comprehension? In light of this story, can we say there is any difference between science and spirituality?
O.J. Simpson is in the news again. Can you remember his famous escape attempt in his white Ford Bronco? Doesn’t it seem like it happened yesterday? Can you believe that murder case is 19 years old? I call this the O.J. Simpson effect. It is just a dramatic example of how fast time flies. The reason why I’m ending with the O.J. Simpson effect is to remind you that the time to use your power and make the universe a better place is now. If we hesitate, we may find that 19 or 20 years has passed without acting on our dream because we mistakenly believed we had plenty of time.
I AM: The Power of Discovering Who You Really Are by Howard Falco
YOU ARE HERE: A Portable History of the Universeby Christopher Potter
NOTHING: A Very Short Introductionby Frank Close
BIG BANG: The Origin of the Universeby Simon Singh
Birth of the Universe