AOH :: BIG-BANG.TXT|
The Big Bang Theory...
The Big Bang (Made Simple)
(The Creation of our Solar Sytem, and Life Therein)
Boris Karloff Dec 16, 1994
Have you ever gazed at the stars, and pondered not only their
vastness and beauty, but also the methodology and reasoning
behind their existence? I know I have. Even as a child I would
stare at the heavens, hoping to catch a glimpse of a comet or
other moving celestial mass, and watch in bewilderment with
peaked curiosity when a pulsar flashed or a star flickered in
the heavens far above me. Since my first glance up above, I
believed there was life out there, somewhere far out there,
hiding in the multitudes of stars that light up our night sky.
Simplistic were my views at such a tender age, but reflecting a
belief that only strengthened with age and education. How tiny
we are I thought... and how small and insignificant I now know
We have all pondered the question of life elsewhere in the uni-
verse, whether in an observatory, in a classroom, or within our
hearts... and always desired even the tiniest shred of evidence
to answer the question either way. Asked have we, "Why are we
here. How did we get here." And, "Are there other planets with
similar conditions elsewhere in the universe?" To fully compre-
hend the structure and basis of our existence, as well as the
existence of other life or planets with similar conditions, we
must first understand how our own Milky Way was created.
Most of us have heard of the "Big Bang" theory, but many do not
understand its execution and workings to an appreciable degree.
I hope to clarify some of the more obscure aspects of this, the
most widely recognized and accepted theory regarding the origin
of our galaxy.
It all began with an immense, swirling dust cloud, consisting
of 90 percent hydrogen, 9 percent helium, and small quantities
of oxygen, neon, nitrogen, carbon, silicon, magnesium, iron and
other trace elements making up the final 1 percent. Atoms and
molecules of the solid compounds such as carbon, silicon, iron,
magnesium and sulphur attracted each other, and "plantesimals"
were formed. These somewhat large concentrations of solid mat-
erials eventually formed what became the solid cores of planets.
As hydrogen comprised the vast majority of the atoms, it
combined with most of the other elements, H2O (water) with
oxygen, NH3 (ammonia) with nitrogen, and CH4 (methane) with
carbon for example. The noble (inert) gases helium (atomic #2),
neon (atomic #10), argon (atomic #18), krypton (atomic #36),
xenon (atomic #54), and radon (atomic #86), would not combine
with any other elements due to their inert properties, and thus
stayed in their original form. Some of these elements, as well
as some of the other gases (NH3 (ammonia) for example) were
solids at the low temperatures prevolent at the time the earth
was forming. Thus they were combined with the other solids in
the swirling dust cloud that formed the "planetesimals." Even
the gaseous elements and molecules had been trapped in quantity
within the core of our forming planet.
At this time, the gargantuous interior mass of the gaseous dust
cloud had condensed with such an extreme pressure, so as to
generate great internal temperatures eventually igniting the
formidable mass of hydrogen and creating our sun. The great
heat generated by our newly formed sun vapourized all the sub-
stances with low boiling temperatures, and they escaped to the
exterior of our new planet Earth. An atmosphere began to form.
The distance between the Earth and the sun was such that the
temperature was warm enough to evaporate the above molecules,
yet cool enough to keep the speed of the molecules down enough
for the gravitational force to maintain the atmosphere. Other
planets possessed alternate atmospheres dependeding on their
distance from the sun. Mercury's proximity to the sun was so
close as to heat up the gas molecules to such a temperature,
that their speed proved excessive for its gravitational pull
to maintain. These gases were swept outward by the solar wind
and collected by the larger planets at greater distances. The
outer planets suffered a different fate. Their gas molecules
were cool enough to keep them extremely slow moving, allowing
their gravitational pull to keep all gas molecules and attract
others that originated from the centre of the solar system. The
larger sizes attest to their ability to maintain dense atmos-
pheres, consisting mainly of hydrogen and hydrogen compounds,
helium, ammonia, and methane. Venus, Earth and Mars managed to
hold some of their gases. Venus and Earth faired the best of
the three, however they all managaed to collect atmospheres of
ammonia, methane, and hydrogen sulfide. The water molecules
that were trapped during the creation of the planet cores, now
escaped and formed oceans and a small amount of vapour in the
atmospheres. Earth had large oceans forming, Venus, smaller
and warmer had substancially less moisture, and Mars yielded
the least volume. Therefore, the basis of life began with the
creation of a reducing atmosphere on earth.
Complex molecules of carbon and hydrogen atoms formed utilizing
carbon, the readily available hydrogen, and ultra-violet
radiation from the sun. As oxygen was not yet present in the
atmosphere, the UV radiation was not blocked. The oceans were
about to form the first building blocks of life. Simple life
forms made up of complex molecules began to fill the oceans,
hovering approximately twelve feet below the surface to protect
themselves from the ultra-violet radiation (since the radiation
could also break down complex molecules of carbon and hydrogen).
This worked out well for the new life below the surface, as the
moderately complex molecules formed above them would serve as
their "food." Alas a chain of life had begun.
The UV radiation also served another purpose, photodissociation
would occur, and both hydrogen and oygen would be released into
the atmosphere from the water from which they came. Hydrogen
atoms are the lightest in the galaxy and would therefore float
off into space; And the more oxygen that was produced through
photodissociation, the faster the hydrogen would rise. Now the
atoms of free oxygen would combine in pairs (O2) for the atmos-
phere, and with soil to create silicates (oxidized minerals).
In combination with NH3 (ammonia) forming N and H20 (nitrogen
and water), with CH4 (methane) forming CO2 and H2O (carbon
dioxide and water), and with H2S (hydrogen sulfide) molecules
formed S and H2O (sulfur and water). In turn the water was
photodissociated and the cycle continued. The S combined with
the core singularily to produce sulfides, and in conjunction
with O2, to produce sulfates. Finally, at a loss of moisture,
though not excessive, the atmosphere changed from a reducing
(H based), to a neutral one. At this point Venus and Mars had
also followed suit, Venus having a denser atmosphere, comprised
of N and CO2, Mars almost exclusively containining CO2 in its
exceedingly thin atmosphere. The moisture levels also varied,
as Venus contained approximately 1/10,000 that of the earth's
oceans, (a substancial sum), but Mars having barely enough to
affect the dry landscape. A key factor here was the difference
in volume of CO2 gas. Since CO2 is an excellent absorber of
infrared radiation it is required (in large quantities) to
produce an appreciable "greenhouse effect," ie. using the sun
to heat up the planet's surface. Venus had enough of the CO2
to produce this effect, however Mars did not, thus its great
difference in temperature. Venus not only had enough CO2, but
too much of it. The temperature of the planet and atmosphere
rose to such a height as to evaporate its oceans and form the
clouds which now cover the planet. Any living organisms that
may have developed would have been killed as the planet's temp-
erature increased beyond their tolerance.
On Earth, the O2 released into the atmosphere had two purposes,
one, to oxygenate the atmosphere, and two, to form O3 (ozone).
The O3 layer lay in the upper atmosphere and absorbed UV light
thus protecting the living organisms freshly formed in the
Earth's oceans. Earth had such abundant oceans at this point,
that it could afford to lose half of the volume in order to
create a boutiful atmosphere, at the moment a neutral one.
Although the similarities between the creation of Earth and
Venus were close indeed, Earth did not fall to the same fate.
In order to prevent the same end Venus experienced, Earth would
develope chlorophyll. This occured when UV light built a ring
of atoms made up of simple molecules. A particular combination
of atoms attaching to the ring yeilded chlorophyll. This new
molecule had the property of absorbing visible light, and the
ease of incorporating into other cells. These early cells were
now capable of producing complex food molecules by utilizing
the energy from visible light stored in chlorophyll. Now the
cells could feed without waiting for the molecules formed by
the photodissociation. This process is called photosynthesis,
and during this process, the energy of visible light separates
H2O molecules into H and O2. Without the chlorophyll this
would not occur. This method of breaking down the H2O molecules
is far more effective than the UV light photodissociation, with
the added benefit of allowing cells to multiply more rapidly
than was previously possible. In time photosynthesis became
the prevailing mode of life, the O2 was steadily increasing in
the atmosphere, and the face of the Earth began to turn green.
As the O2 increased, larger quantities of O3 gathered in the
outer atmosphere to block out the UV light. Since the cells
used visible light for photosynthesis, and H2O molecules were
broken down into H and O2 by the process, the UV light photo-
dissociation process was no longer required. As visible light
passed through the O3 layer easily, life multiplied, and O2 was
created at a greater pace converting the neutral atmosphere
into a oxidizing one.
The vast carbon dioxide resource also had to be reduced to
prevent the overheating experienced by Venus. Photosynthesis,
while producing the O2, had the added benefit of not permitting
the H to escape as occurred in photodissociation, by converting
it into starch and other components of plant cells by combining
it with the overly abundant CO2. Thus the infrared light was
prevented from overheating the planet. Many years of this pro-
cess would yield an atmosphere consisting mainly of N and O2.
When this occurred the O3 layer was dense enough to reduce the
UV light reaching the surface below sufficiently to allow life
forms to explore dry land, and cover the Earth. Eventually both
plant and animal were found accross the globe.
In the not too distant future, prehistoric man evolved, and the
rest is history...
To concluded, this combination of events could easily occur
elsewhere, in another galaxy, perhaps even nearby. It almost
occurred twice in our own Milky Way, (here on Earth, and almost
on Venus). If perchance Venus had a longer gestation period
in which to develope chlorophyll, would we be alone in our
Galaxy? I highly doubt it. However I assure you we are not
alone in this, our universe...
Go now and explore, and leave your mind open to the endless
possibilities that surround us and are an integral part of our
existence. The complexities of life are merely an inconvenience
for understanding; however, study with an open mind, and
the universe is yours...
Greenstein, George, "The Symbiotic Universe: Life and the
Cosmos in Unity," Quill William Morrow, New York
Asimov, Isaac, "Mars, The Red Planet," Lothrop, Lee & Shepherd
Company, New York, Copyright 1977 - by Isaac Asimov
Von Baeyer, Hans, "Rainbows, Snowflakes, and Quarks: Physics
and the World Around Us," McGraw-Hill, New York, Copyright 1984
Hans C. Von Baeyer
Asimov, Isaac, "Is Anyone There?" Doubleday & Co., New York,
Copyright 1967 by Isaac Asimov
Davies Owen, "The Omni Book of Space," Omni Publications Inter-
national, Ltd., Copyright 1979-1982 - Various Authors
Sagan, Carl, "Cosmos," Ballantine Books - a division of Random
House, Inc., New York, Copyright 1980 by Carl Sagan Productions
Those wishing further information may leave me, ~11Boris Karloff~03,
mail at ~11Frynge BBS (604) 763-6314~03.
Any comments are not only welcome, but also appreciated
Special thanks to Martin Strasser for giving me the ambition to
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