Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Humankind: a waste product of the Universe?

In the beginning there was heat.

According to all that is holy in the physics world, the universe is energy. Energy transfer, to be specific and lots of it. So much so that it couldn't contain itself inside such infinite density and blew its brains out to create what we call space. As it cooled and spread out, particles formed to assist in this transfer across greater distances. Now, at that time (the first microseconds of the universe), we're not talking lightyears. No, sir. While muons begat leptons begat quarks begat protons begat electron which begat hydrogen, we've barely moved from the planck length to the atomic length. All for the glory of energy.

As the universe expands and energy is swapped and diffused, hydrogen begat helium and so forth down the line forming cooler and cooler atoms (consult a periodic table near you). At this point the background temperature of the universe is barely above absolute zero. Energy transfers take place mostly in stars. They swap hydrogen for helium for as long as poss and when the juice is sucked out, the cooler metals get spit out like seeds from a grape. That grape seed becomes a planet and when it's energy has bounced around enough to disperse and cool, it forms a crust of molecules in the cold, cold reality of space .

Welcome to our world. The universe is finally cold enough to form water, that refreshing lava of life! There's not much energy going around the surface of the Earth but what there is gets batted around until somehow we evolve from amino acids in the water to rush hour on the Long Island Expressway.

The upshot here is that in essence, from the big bang on down we human beings are a part of the universe's waste stream. Simply a byproduct of spent energy. I'm sure there's a metaphor in there somewhere. Rising from ashes, the wretched refuse...something.

What I wonder is what happened to all that energy? It's still out there somewhere...

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