Thursday, August 30, 2007

Things I Believe, Part 1: 13.7*10^9 B.C.E - c. 1 B.C.E.

So, just for the hell of it, I've decided to attempt a complete inventory of all the things that I believe. All my beliefs, if you will. This'll be a three-part series: Part 1 will cover events from the Beginning of the Universe 'til around the time of some guy's birth in Judea (since that's how people tend to reckon their calendars these days); Part 2 will cover around that dude's birth until the present day; and Part 3 will cover what I believe to be Mathematical and Other Truths (and the Future?). Capitalized. So, without further ado, here is What Harrison Believes.

1. I believe that the Universe as we know it exploded out of a small, hot, dense region approximately 13.7 billion years ago, plus or minus 200 million;

2. That an infinitesimal fraction of a second later, space expanded at an exponential rate far beyond c, and that this led to a "flattening" of local spacetime, and that quantum fluctuations were magnified to macroscopic scales;

3. That a fraction of a second later, the electromagnetic force separated from the weak force, and fundamental particles acquired mass;

4. That under a second after this, quarks were bound together by the strong nuclear force into hadrons and anti-hadrons (most of which annihilated each other immediately);

5. That about 100-300 seconds later, temperatures were right for some protons and neutrons left over to fuse into deuterium nuclei and those of a few other light elements (mostly helium);

6. That hadron/anti-hadron and lepton/anti-lepton annihilation reactions created an abundance of photons, which reacted over the next ~400,000 years with other nuclei, leptons, and hadrons wandering the cosmos;

7. That, as nuclei and electrons combined to form atoms (at around 400,000 years after the Big Bang), the Universe became transparent to radiation, and we see this radiation today as the cosmic microwave background;

8. That, around 200-500 million years later, the first stars (made almost entirely of lightweight elements) began to form, as did the first galaxies;

9. That, around this time, a very special galaxy began forming, one that certain sentient beings living in it would later call the "Milky Way"...

More to come - hold on tight.

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