1. How It All Began…

These are the findings of the most prestigious university professors and scientific community all around the world. These…are the things, we know so far…

Sit down and make yourself comfortable, I will take you on a journey to the beginning of time…

Initial singularity. Name of the idea that refers to every piece of “space, matter and all the energy” of the universe right now existing in a single point before big bang occurred.

This one single point was ultra-small and ultra-dense in comparison what universe is right now.

<year 14 000 000 000 BC>

This really small and dense cosmos starts to expand very rapidly and that is what we now call a Big Bang.

Einstein’s general theory of relativity. put forth in 1916, gives us our modern understanding of gravity, in which the presence of matter and energy curves the fabric of space and time surrounding it. In the 1920s, quantum mechanics would be discovered, providing our modern account of all that is small: molecules, atoms, and subatomic particles. But these two understandings of nature are formally incompatible with one another, which set physicist off on a race to blend the theory of the small with the theory of the large into a single coherent theory of quantum gravity.  (passage from Neil de Grasse Tyson’s book Astrophysics for people in a hurry)

Planck Era:

This was no problem at all for the time period shortly after Big Bang, called “Planck Era” because small was large in this span and the laws of physics known today were unified.

By the end of the Planck era, the “gravity” was the first force to wriggle loose and achieving its own identity from all other still unified forces of nature.

As the universe continues to expand, its energy becomes less concentrated and what remained of the unified forces of nature split into the “electroweak” and the “strong nuclear” forces.

Later on, electroweak force splits into “electromagnetic” and “weak nuclear” forces.

And these four are the foundation of the forces we all live around even today, with the “weak” force controlling radioactive decay, the “strong” force binding the atomic nucleus, the “electromagnetic” force binding molecules, and “gravity” binding bulk matter.

All this so far happened in a trillionth of a second since initial singularity.

In this stage, the universe is full of energy in form of photons and matter in form of basic elementary particles. The universe is hot enough for photons to spontaneously convert their energy into matter-antimatter pairs. This is Einstein’s E=mc2 at the purest level there is. Photons are massless vessels of light energy, which are as waves as much they are particles.

Matter-Anti-matter by Dante

Quark-lepton era:

This is the next stage in the development of the universe.

Now I would love to just continue the story about what happened in the universe in the quark-lepton era but without understanding basics of quantum physics it is not going to make much sense to you so I took my liberty here to explain to you few basics about particle physics. After a few hours of searching the internet, I wasn’t able to find a proper diagram explaining how subatomic particles are divided into categories so I made my own. If there are any quantum physicists reading this please let me know if there are any mistakes in the diagrams.

Subatomic particles by Dante

Particles by DanteAll SubParts by Dante

Atom by Dante

These 4 diagrams should be able to at least give you the idea of the quantum universe. Long story short you can divide all sub-atomic particles into two categories. Bosons and Fermions. They divide again into sub-categories. Bosons are divided into “again” Bosons which are elementary particles and Mesons which are essentially Bosons that be split into quarks. Fermions are divided into Leptons, which are Fermions that are elementary particles themselves and Baryons which are Fermions that can be split into quarks. Therefore some of the bosons, all quarks, and all leptons are the tiniest basic elementary particles, that we know about. Also, all the Bosons and Fermions which are made of quarks are also called Hadrons. Simple right 😀 :D. Somebody give elementary bosons a new name, please. This is so weird right now.

So when we talk here about the quark-lepton era. Now you know we are talking about tiniest elementary particles, basic building blocks of everything there is the universe. And in this stage of the universe, there were no bigger particles than these. Just a soup of hot little particles interacting with each other.

The universe is hot enough for quarks and leptons come into existence as matter-antimatter pairs and back together to annihilate themselves.

Scientists are still unsure about this part, but as quarks jump in and out of existence to create matter-antimatter pairs and back to photons somehow a matter to antimatter asymmetry is created in the quark-lepton era.

Matter to antimatter ratio had become 1 000 000 001:1 000 000 000.

<A millionth of a second passed since initial singularity>

Hadron era:

The universe is no longer hot enough to cook quarks (to let them come in and out of the existence as M and anti-M pairs). Temperature drops below the threshold of trillion degrees Kelvin. All quark particles catch their partners and create hadrons, also called heavy particles. And they are also first complex coordination of elementary particles in the universe. This quark to hadron transition resulted in the creation of protons, neutron, and other less known hadron particles. This slight asymmetry from the quark-lepton era is passed on hadrons as well with extraordinary consequences. The universe continues to cool down and amount of energy available for the spontaneous creation of particles drops. During the Hadron era photons could no longer invoke E=mc2 to manufacture new quark-antiquark pairs.

As quarks are creating hadrons by combining their charges they can invoke two type of particles when it comes to the final charge of the hadrons. We are here talking about hadrons and anti-hadrons. Which could be for example proton and its counterpart antiproton.

Proton Anti-proton by Dante

Now the temperature of the universe drops even more and creation of hadron and anti-hadrons is no longer possible. Now all the hadrons in the universe eventually find they counterpart to annihilate with to create energy again except one in a billion. These leftover hadrons will become a basis of all matter in the universe to create galaxies, stars, planets and everything else you ever knew.

Without this matter-antimatter asymmetry, all the matter in the universe would self-annihilate itself back into photons. Ultimate let there be a light scenario.

By now one second of time has passed.

The same process that quarks and hadron came through is happening to electrons as well. They come in and out of existence thanks to the fact universe is hot enough to make it happen. Eventually, the universe expands more and gets colder again. Electrons stop coming into existence and whatever’s left finds their counterpart in positrons(anti-electrons) annihilate themselves, make energy with no mass and leave 1 in billion with no anti-particle to annihilate with.

Now. One electron(lepton) for every proton(hadron) is frozen into existence.

As the temperature continues to drop down protons fuse with other protons and neutrons to create atom nuclei. 90% of these nuclei are Hydrogen and 10% are Helium, traces of Deuterium(heavy hydrogen), Tritium(even heavier hydrogen) and Lithium.

For another 380 000 years, this particle soup stays pretty much the same while the universe is expanding. Also, the electrons are able to move freely through the universe at this stage.

Until the expansion of the universe gets to the point where the temperature drops below 3000 degrees Kelvin. Electrons start to pair up with already established nuclei, creation first atoms in the primordial universe.

<For the first billion years>

As the universe continues to expand and cool down matter is gravitating into massive concentrations, which we now call galaxies.

Galaxies formation by Dante

Nearly 100 billion of galaxies are formed and inside of them hundreds of billions of stars are made. Now we have a universe made of stars and stars only. Why is it so? Because so far only available elements in the universe are mostly Hydrogen and Helium as mentioned above and guess what stars are made of. Yes, you got it, stars consist of particles of hydrogen and helium which gravitated into these enormous ball giants.

Stars creation by Dante

All those stars undergo thermonuclear fusion in their cores. So why would that be? In what way is the core of the star different than its surface? Is simply is because more to the center of a star you go, denser it becomes. More dense means more heat, very simply put. So even though the surface of a star is really hot its nothing in comparison to its core sometimes achieving even millions of degrees(for example our Sun’s surface temperature is 5,778 degrees Kelvin, at its core, it’s 15 million degrees Kelvin).

Bigger stars with a mass about 10 times bigger than our Sun achieve sufficient pressure and temperature in their cores to manufacture dozens of elements heavier than hydrogen, including those that can compose planets and everything on them. Those elements would be totally useless would they stay where they are in cores of those stars. So conveniently a star huge enough or massive enough randomly explodes, scattering their chemically enriched gut throughout the galaxy.

After 9 billion years of this enrichment creation of planets and formation of galaxies almost as we know them today is complete.

Localization:

In one random point of this madness, a small star called Sun was born becoming a center of one random galaxy called Milky Way.

The gas cloud from which Sun was formed contained sufficient supply of heavy elements to create an inventory of objects orbiting around the sun. Several rocky planets, several gaseous planets, hundreds of thousands of asteroids and billions of comets.

<For first several hundred million years>

Large quantities of debris would compose the larger bodies. Less and less leftover debris remained in the solar system.

One planet we call Earth formed in so-called “habitable zone” of the Sun where its oceans remain in liquid form. If the Earth had been closer to the Sun, oceans would have evaporated, if it would be further away, the oceans would have frozen. In either case, life on Earth as you know it, would not have been possible.

By processes which are yet to be discovered, first organic molecules transitioned into self-replicating life.

Dominant in this primordial soup was anaerobic bacteria – a life that thrives in oxygen-free environments and creates oxygen as a byproduct excretes.

These single-cell organisms unwillingly transformed the surface of the Earth from CO2 rich atmosphere into a one with sufficient Oxygen to allow aerobic organisms to emerge and dominate.

These same oxygen atoms usually found in pairs(O2) also combined in threes(O3) also created a shield in the upper atmosphere, which has a protective effect from the Sun’s molecule hostile ultra-violet photons.

(source: Neil de Grasse Tyson – Astrophysics for People in a Hurry)

 

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