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From Bang to Whimper

By Big Bang we mean the beginning event, the coming to be of the cosmos. But first if we mean by bang an unimaginable, colossal kablooey beyond belief, we are wrong. Despite the promising name, the Big Bang was silent. The starting gun had to be silent because there was no space as yet to expand into, there was no medium into which sound waves could possibly propagate. Also, there was no time either.

The Big Bang that birthed our universe wasn’t some ear-splitting, explosive sound. Instead, it was more akin to a robotic humming. For the first 100,000 to 700,000 years after it was created, the universe was denser than the air on Earth; this meant sound waves could at last travel.

What was it that could not make a noise and had to contend with no place and no time? The big “IT” is called a singularity—a point of infinite density and gravity—and from it the actual cosmos squeezed out, carrying everything potentially yet to come—from galaxies all the way to the you that’s combing your mop of hair.

If at first there was no space and no time, could it have been that the singularity was also in its way a “no thing?” No, it was something—a point of infinite density, gravity, quantum fluctuations and inflations hanging out and suddenly propelling the cosmos forthwith. This happened 14 billion years ago in human years.  Curiouser and curiouser.

Under the force of gravity, the Big Bang moment was a disgorging of an incredibly hot fireball and gaseous essential particles—protons, neutrons, and electrons. Hydrogen and helium, the lightest elements, manifested. A few hundred million years later, clumps of the gas clouds condensed to form the first stars, which created and dispersed heavier elements throughout the universe. At last galaxies formed full of trillions and billions of stars dragging bevies of planets playing ring around the rosy suns.  

There are some 2 trillion galaxies in the observable Universe. Each galaxy is unique, ranging in size from 10,000 light-years to hundreds of light-years.  The largest galaxy has a mass of 100 trillion stars.  This is named IC 1101 and is located almost a billion light-years away. It stretches as wide as 4 million light-years across, according to NASA.

We call our galaxy, starting 14 billion years ago with the other galaxies, by the motherly title of Milky Way; we are reported to have 100 to 400 billion stars. One of those stars, our sun with its eventual flock of eight orbiting planets (earth being one), formed 4.6 billion years ago from a cloud of gas and dust under the force of gravity called the solar nebula.

What now becomes interesting is that our planet became habitable, and life emerged during its first 500 million years, 3.5 billion years ago.  We know that life began because that is the age of the oldest rocks with fossil evidence of life on earth.

The first human ancestors appeared between five million and seven million years ago, probably when some apelike creatures in Africa began to walk habitually on two legs. They were flaking crude stone tools by 2.5 million years ago.

Regarding we Homo sapiens, we showed up starting 300,000 to 196,000 years ago in various areas: south-western Ethiopia, South Africa, and Morocco.

Inorganic matter had transubstantiated into organic matter. Going through successive and successful adaptations, organic matter populated as plant and animal life forms. Within the animal life forms, conscious awareness in relation to environment manifested. But even more remarkably, self-consciousness arose in the line of primates. Me and you are the coagulates of the boundless particles falling in the void that began with the Big Bang. We ended up being the highly advantaged bipedal striders, with prehensile thumbs, and 3-D, or stereoscopic, vision and a good sense of depth perception. We foraged and hunted, eventually made agriculture and tools, told stories, and buried our dead with ritual. We decided that there must be a realm different from our solid dawn to dusk world. How could there not be? We travel to this realm during our nightly sleep trance. We visit with our deceased relatives in our dreams, and we deduced they still lived, though in a ghostly realm.

Two energies began to appear among us in our dawn to dusk ventures as the ages of evolution progressed: humane altruism-cooperation on the one hand, and cruel aggression-avariciousness on the other. The opposing of these two inclinations—one of fairness and the other of selfishness—have lighted fools the way to dusty death generation after generation. The result has been swaths of peaceful times being upended by wars and terrors. As of this writing, Russia is invading Ukraine; the United States contributed 20 years of turmoil to Afghanistan. The ages have been populated by survivors who are repeatedly drawn, per force, into dramas of chaos, entropy, and random sociopolitical syntheses. What else can we expect? We are not gods, goddesses, or heroes springing from the brow of Zeus. We have arisen from a mulch of microscopic organisms (microbes) that left signals of their presence in rocks beginning some 3.5 billion years ago. The signals consisted of a type of carbon molecule that is produced by living things. And so, this writing is an attempt at a global grasp of everything, beginning with the blast of the Big Bang, and coming finally to my decision this morning to either light a candle or whimper a curse of the darkness that surrounds us on all sides.

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