A Fortuitous Planet

Why humanity is lucky to be here

J.K. Lund MS

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If humans could explore the planets of the distant universe, what would we find? Would we encounter dead rocks floating in the abyss, or planets teeming with life? Would we need to confront life that is more advanced than us? Or is the universe filled with ruins, like Rome or Greece today, of complex civilizations that have long since perished? The history of the universe suggests that indeed, our existence as sentient molecules on this planet is fortuitous and something to be appreciated and safeguarded.

To the best of our knowledge, the universe began some 13.8 Billion years ago with the ‘Big Bang.’ Before that moment, per our current understanding at least, nothing existed. Everything that would ever be, was compressed into an unimaginably small space, a ‘gravitational singularity’ far smaller than an atom. So dense, in fact, that it infinitely curved space-time such that the concept of time didn’t even exist. Within the singularity, the four fundamental forces we know today (weak nuclear force, electromagnetism, strong nuclear force, and gravity) were equivalent in strength and probably unified into a single fundamental force.

This singularity suddenly and inexplicably burst outward. In the first second of the universe’s existence, the concepts we call time, space, and the laws of physics that we still struggle to understand today, emerged. In the seconds that followed, subatomic particles (quarks, electrons, neutrinos..etc) began to form, then larger particles like positively charged protons. Neutrons were formed by the collision of negatively charged electrons and protons under these extreme conditions. By about 3 minutes after birth, the universe had cooled just enough to allow those larger particles to fuse together, creating the first simple nuclei, the cores of hydrogen and helium atoms.

After about 20 minutes, the nascent universe was no longer hot enough to sustain fusion, leaving a hot and expanding soup of electrons, hydrogen, and…

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J.K. Lund MS

Risk Manager/Author | I research Human Progress and how to build a better future.