Time, the Universe and the Whole Darn Thing!
Part One: The Future of the Earth
By Allan EastmanGo back to Page 1
The Beginning, or is it Really?
The present day scientific community more or less accepts The Big Bang Theory as the conception of our Universe. All matter is compressed into an infinitesimal point singularity that suddenly – 13.7 Billion years ago - begins to expand extraordinarily quickly, creating immense heat and clouds of primordial gas. Space, Time, Gravity, Energy come into existence in the earliest microseconds of this expansion. As the expansion begins to cool in the first 3 minutes or so, the base elements of the Universe are created. The now gargantuan Universe’s matter is composed of 75% Hydrogen, 25% Helium and a tiny trace of Lithium, like the lemon twist in a martini. Everything that will ever be, will be created from these primordial building blocks.
But the Big Bang Theory is a representation of what we can see from where we are and the sense we make of it from our observations – science in a nutshell, in more ways than one. Some new theories have sprung up recently, largely due to the development of String Theory, which have made strong mathematically based arguments that the Universe we see is not the only one there is. In fact, our Universe’s Big Bang may be just a ripple in the fabric of a membrane of a much bigger series of Universes that exists in 11 dimensions. As we humans are only able to perceive in 4 dimensions – Space and Time basically – we cannot see or connect with this Multiverse which is all around, and within us. Or at least, Not Yet.
In this much larger conception, our (somewhat self absorbed) idea that “our” Big Bang is a unique event in Creation is as highly unlikely as the vain conceit that we are alone in the Universe. There have been many Big Bangs before, they are probably going on all the time throughout the Multiverse and there will be many more after our own particular Universe eventually winds down.
But still, let’s stick for the moment with what we got – the local Universe - and with what we know until now.
About 400 Million years after the Big Bang, the first stars began to form from swirling clouds of gas that had become compressed enough to ignite nuclear forces. All these original stars were so called Super Massive stars, about 100 times larger than our local star, the Sun. They were composed solely of the base elements, hydrogen and helium. As these stars burned their way through these elements, they began to create the heavier elements through nuclear fusion – carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, silicon, calcium and so on through to iron. Because of their massive size, they burned relatively fast on the solar scale of evolution.
And then, as each of these Super Massive stars burned through their iron cores, they had a catastrophic core collapse under the immense heat and pressure created there. Their gaseous envelope contracted and then detonated outward in a series of stupendous Super Novae. These astounding nuclear explosions spewed the Stars’ contents out over vast volumes of Space, seeding the next generation of stars with the heavier elements they had created. What was left behind at the scene was that awesome gravitational Frankenstein, a Black Hole.
Some of the more massive Black Holes became the gravity wells around which other gaseous matter began to swirl, ultimately forming galaxies. All galaxies appear to have a Super Massive Black Hole at their center. We’ll have more to say about these fascinating monsters later, as the ultimate Fate of Everything may be bound up in their far from tender mercies.