The Rise of The Apes

It started 23 million years ago, which might seem like a long way in the past, but think of the earth as a person that lived to 100 years. When the Miocene began, this ‘person’ would have been ninety five years old. Everything that has occurred since then has been in the last 5 years.
The apes spread out and developed into 100 species, which included a couple we recognize today. We don’t know for sure which species contributed to the animal from which we descended, but molecular evidence strongly suggest it lived 7 to 8 million years ago. The mobile-on-two-legs version evolved in Africa later, about 5 million years ago.

The First Nuclear Fire

Action at last. Frankly the last 560,000,000 years since the excitement of the Big Bang have been a bit boring. Sure the protons and neutrons were rounding up the electrons and forming into nice stable atoms and the atoms were getting together making interesting things like ice, but really, something more exciting is overdue.

The First Molecule

Generally speaking, molecules are the basic elements of ‘soft’ matter, water, trees, animals, the atmosphere and are called organic molecules to emphasise the point.
‘Hard’ matter, rocks, metals, gems, diamonds, glass and salts are also made of atoms of course, but the atoms are chemically bonded in a different way so they have no identifiable molecules.

The Big Bang Explained. Sort of.

Perhaps the greatest understatement, serenely floating around in the nothingness before space was invented, is the term ‘Big Bang’. Nothing comes close to describing what happened in that first second, not atomic weapons, not exploding stars, not even supernovae.
If we cherish our understatements a little longer, it was hot. Not hot like anything that could be formed on a planet, not hot like the sun which by comparison is like standing next to the air conditioning on a coolish day, but really, really hot. So hot that nothing existed, not even sub-atomic particles and everything that was to come, the stars, the planets, the universe itself was packed into a space so small, by normal definition it did not even exist.
What triggered the blast may not be fully established yet, we have some competing hypotheses to work with, however it is fairly certain science will eventually create methods for testing so we can settle the matter.
What we do know is what happened in the time slot just after the ‘pop’ but like everything else on the subject, the time slot is impossibly short, far shorter than anything we mere humans can understand.

How A Galaxy Forms

Our Sun is just one of somewhere between 200,000 million and 400,000 million similar stars but to get from one side of the galaxy to the other, well you’d need to pack a big lunch.
Technically, it’s possible to build a craft that could travel close to the speed of light. It would have to be very large to accommodate enough fuel to burn constantly for several years, but eventually it could reach speeds approaching 186,000 miles per second. At this speed you could get to the middle of our galaxy (once you decide where exactly that is) in about 20,000 or maybe 30,000 years. Given that the distance between galaxies is many times more than the width of a galaxy, there’s probably not much chance of visiting another galaxy anytime soon.

The Milky Way

After an unimaginable time span of 1,800 million years after the ‘Big Bang’ stars in this area ignite forming the Milky Way, our home galaxy.
It’s somehow comforting to think we have neighbours, perhaps lots of them, in our locality. Our “town” in the Universe is called the Milky Way and as far as we know, there are between 200 and 400 million suns much like ours in town.

How Many Galaxies Are There?

The name ‘galaxy’ is from the Greek word for milk which is how they described the whiteish appearance of the band of light we know as our home galaxy. Each of the 170 billion galaxies is indeed a group of stars, but much more than that. They almost certainly hold billions of planets, star systems, star clusters and in most cases, a massive black hole near the centre.

The First Milky Way Stars

Aside from the twinkling variety, how many types of stars are there? Seems like a fair question and the answer is a very scientific one too, ‘lots’.
Actually, most of the stars are not alone with twins being the most common setup in most galaxies and a fair helping of triplets too. This is not surprising when you know how the stars get going in the first place.

The Age Of The Universe

In our puny life times, we think of a couple of thousand years as a long time and that is not so surprising given the short span of our lives, usually less than a hundred rides on the merry-go-round and that’s it, you’re done.
Look at our history, a mere 500 generations back our grandfathers were just learning the art of growing food. Ten thousand generations back and we had only just become a clearly defined species in our own right, so how could we appreciate the passage of say, a million years?
If we struggle with a million, then let’s pretend that today is about a third of the way through the life of the universe. The Sun and the Earth are still six thousand million years in the future. Let’s just think about that again, not one million or a hundred million, but six thousand million years in the future. That’s when our Sun and Earth will come into existence.

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