The entire history and future of The Universe in 999 personified words.

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Peacefully, the three-dimensional universe coalesced into a series of two-dimensional plates. Within those plates, little balls began to form from the debris. Over a little time, oceans and atmospheres formed and life flourished on several particular globes.

Intelligent life came somewhere towards the end of life’s overall run and inevitably ruined it for everyone aside from the resilient few. Ravens – a rather nifty bird, of all things – did pretty well for themselves on Earth, taking advantage of pretty much everything humans threw at them.

Several species of bacterium and smaller creatures had no trouble with adapting to various chemical poisons and radiation, and intelligent life inevitably rose again and again, each time being annihilated by themselves as if it was some sort of tradition.

In the end, however, life just kind of gave up throughout the Universe and left it to the elements to roam free, no longer manipulated by curious minds.

By this point though, the Universe is pretty cold. Mr. Entropy has been messing the place up and causing atomic chaos and now there is so little order that energy has just sort of spread out like a regular tub of butter over 46.6 billion slices of toast.

Since temperature comes from the interaction of atoms, there is no longer any temperature because everyone has isolated themselves in their own little patch of the Universe. There were once good days where atoms would jiggle around together emitting heat, since kinetic energy – movement – is the one true form of energy – but I guess after a while you kind of get bored of each other and drift apart. Eventually you’ll stop expecting Christmas cards altogether. I’m pretty sure that’s what Entropy means.

They are consequently collectively destined to decay into nothingness all by themselves. Galaxies were, are and will continue to be things of the past, and at the end of time – a little before 3 o’clock if I calculated it right – temperatures will reach absolute zero (-273.15°C) and penguins will have to find themselves a new, slightly warmer universe in which to reside.

Atoms are a lot like penguins; without coming together and sharing body heat, the penguins tend to get cold and inevitably die alone. A lonely atom cannot share its kinetic energy with its ‘friends’ once it is isolated, and probably wouldn’t even if it could. I’m pretty sure that’s what the Law of Conservation of Energy means.

Of course, there is a solution to all this. If the atoms could just solve their issues with each other, we might see them starting to group up again and get a few barbeques started. This obviously generates heat and we’ll immediately be getting back on track.

With enough friendly atoms, the combined mass would create gravity. Not much is needed, and since it’s a natural result of their turning up to the party, nobody will really mind. Eventually, the party will be so popular and attractive – so to speak – to others that they will have fellow atoms queuing round the corner. Some particles, like electrons, may even turn up to multiple parties simultaneously.

Perhaps rival parties will form elsewhere and other gravitational sources will attract other extroverts, and perhaps some smaller, introvert-friendly invitations might prop up here and there. Something for everyone.

Without even realizing it, there will be numerous groups forming into various elements again like the good old days as a result of interacting with each other and trading various particles here and there. Helium being the most extraverted of elements was always the most popular, and pretty self-absorbed. So they ended up at pretty much every party along with Hydrogen and to a lesser extent, Lithium and Beryllium. These guys are pretty lightweight and light hearted though, so it took some of the bigger parties to create enough pressure to get the more stubborn, introverted elements like Magnesium and Carbon to come out. They did this by means of a strange ritual of colliding into each other at speeds incomprehensible to intelligent life forms since past. Mg and C tended to hang out with the other 80 or so losers in the bedrooms of these parties, aka, the core of stars and other similarly troublesome places. But given enough time, enough interactions will give them the energy needed to see what all the noise was about outside.

Eventually parties come to an end, often due to the particle police coming about the noise. Given that a typical star party might reach constant volumes of about 290db, this is understandable. So with the police ruining it all, the star will explode. It was getting on a bit anyway. The atoms will have to dash before they get caught and so they will once again get sprawled all over the place.

But wait; now all the introverts are out and about. What will become of them? Well, essentially the same as everyone else. The gravity will be spread out, but not nearly as much as the aforementioned butter scenario, and so it will drag everyone back to what I suppose will be the after party.

Clouds and clouds of atoms will whirl themselves together in renewed two-dimensional plates in a three-dimensional universe – solar systems – and once again clump together in significantly smaller parties, as if to keep from troubling the neighbors – how considerate.

Before we know it, more Earth-like planets will form. Jupiter-like planets were and will be always more common, since Helium and Hydrogen really are the true party goers. But hey, Iron and Carbon don’t mind the occasional chill out session and that is what places like earth will consist of.

In time, carbon will clump together and form life of its own. Carbon has always been the most creative atom in the universe so quite a lot of diversity will come from it, just like last time. But hey, who knows, maybe it will avoid the whole ‘intelligence’ thing and stick with what works; bacteria and, at most, the occasional raven.Image

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Aliens; what of them?

Have you ever noticed how rain sounds like a load of dogs running by? You have to imagine thousands of them, mind you. And they’re running through a giant crop field. And it happens to be raining.

There’s a definite similarity.

Anyway, Another thought on a Neil DeGrasse Tyson quote, which I will paraphrase: If you think about humans, and you think about chimps, there is a chasm of difference between us, in particular in terms of intelligence. We have a sophisticated language, we can learn throughout our lives, we can build, innovate, invent, improvise to an extent that puts chimps to shame. We look at them doing ‘clever’ things like poking  a stick into a tree in order to catch ants. Brilliant! It only took the chimp several years to learn. If he started learning it after about the age of 4, however, it would have been futile.

You can’t teach an old dog new tricks, they say, and this is literally the case for chimps and most other creatures except the human, who is capable of learning new skills until death, albeit with a declining rate of progress. So we look at them, and we see little children. ‘Aw, that’s adorable, the chimp actually used sign language to say I love you, after years of intense enclosed training! It’s just like my 2 year old daughter =)’ Well, how patronising, right? Where does the difference between us lie?

That 2% did more harm than good.

That 2% did more harm than good.

Well, it entirely lies in a 2% difference in our DNA. That 2% is entirely responsible for chimps being chimps and humans being humans. Space stations, submarines, GPS, Quantum Mechanics, Lasers; all created out of 2% DNA. Seriously, that’s it. Remove it and we’ll be chimp-like creatures again.

What Neil concludes is that, assuming there is other intelligent life in the Universe, who is to say they would have equal DNA to us? What if they are superior. Moreover, what if they are a further 2% superior? They would look at us in the same way we look at chimps: Aww look at these humans, they’re creating mathematical equations! This smart one in a wheelchair even has a rough understanding of black holes, just like my 2 year old daughter =)’ ‘They made a space station that looks almost exactly like my son’s school project!’ That’s the kind of alien we could be dealing with.

Just like the first 2% difference, we will not be able to understand them, in any shape or form. Their way of communication is likely to be so vastly bizarre and advanced that we as comparative chimps would have absolutely no concept of what they are doing, just like the real chimps walk around staring blankly at us, unable to grasp the sounds coming from our mouths. What if, for example, these aliens simply use combinations of light emitted from their foreheads (located on their chest)? If we assume they don’t have any radical tools such as bio-luminescence, how about communicating via a complex process of breath sounds? Each wave of breath is so intricately indented with patterns shaped by their trachea, vocal cords, tongue and mouth that the position of every molecule in the air is equivalent to a word in their vocabulary. A single breath could summarise our own entire understanding of the Universe so far. They could conclude the human race’s level of intelligence with a mere snort from a blocked nose.

Then again, so could I.

Of course, the drawback here would be wind, but in their galaxy I would imagine they would have a symbiotic agreement with nature, in that, providing nature keeps wind consistent and controllable, or permits them to control it, they won’t destroy it. This only makes sense if they implanted sentience into the wind, which again, given the 2% difference, is entirely likely. To communicate on earth they would have to use different methods, at which point they would collectively agree on an entirely new language within a few seconds. Perhaps they will adopt our languages, by listening to a few sentences, getting the general idea and figuring out the rest via common sense and probability in which sounds and words are likely to mean which gesture and object, with a 97% accuracy rate.

Perhaps instead, they were stuck at the bottom of their oceans.

Perhaps instead, they were stuck at the bottom of their oceans.

People often ask ‘why would aliens so capable of travelling such distances even be remotely interested in a planet such as ours?’ Well, why are we interested in a species such as chimps? They are out and about in space because they are either innately curious like us, or very lost, and I can’t imagine an alien so capable to be so useless at navigation at the same time.

Actually I can imagine that.

Trying to find comfort in our sewage system.

Trying to find comfort in our sewage system.

It would be some kind of supremely curious subterranean creature who never, or could never push through the surface. Perhaps in one huge leap, such as our industrial revolution, they designed a sort of space ship powerful enough to protrude the crust of their planet. Given that they had never been in the open atmosphere, they just considered outer space and the surface of the earth to be one of the same, so their ship was capable of whatever the Universe could possibly throw at them.

Upon piercing the crust, they continued onward into space, assuming it was just more of their own planet, continuing for a few weeks before realizing that, whatever they used to live in wasn’t there anymore when they looked back from whence they came.

They attempted to back up and return but navigation wasn’t as simple as following a tunnel you just made. There was no tunnel. The invisible track they formed was affected by the gravitational pull of other planets they passed closely by, but not close enough to see them, until they became utterly lost and ended up on Earth.

Perhaps other launches moments after the initial one succeeded ended up in various other places of the cosmos. This would mean there is a high possibility that they inadvertently colonized much of the galaxy, and so when it comes to a time when we can explore such locations, we will be amazed and blown away by our first intelligent life discovery, confused at the second, then expectant, then hopeful and finally bored.

The entire galaxy has been taken over by utterly lost and probably blind aliens who have no idea what to do without a tunnel system at hand and a sentient wind to manipulate.

Hmm, I’ve kind of lost interest in the idea of exploring the Universe now.

Possible launch site.

Possible launch site.

How will the modern world react when we find life on other planets?

'We shouldn't have humans to mars in fifty years, we should have humans to mars in TEN.'

‘We shouldn’t have humans to mars in fifty years, we should have humans to mars in TEN.’

In the 60’s and 70’s, space was huge. It was front page material practically every day.

Science hasn’t slowed down. Space exploration hasn’t slowed down. Discoveries haven’t even slowed down, but I feel the enthusiasm has dwindled.
As a 25 year old, I’m completely aware of how people went about their lives in the 60’s so I can tell the difference.

I don’t think it’s down to people getting more depressing and bored of life or any other negative approach towards society, other than that of media distribution. If your discovery or advancement in human achievement isn’t very immediately practical and aesthetically pleasing, it doesn’t hit the magazines and the headlines.

If you make a little guitar out of atoms you get some attention for it but it’s just boasting a novelty without people really realising the point of making it in the first place.

But space, going to space, that’s a real kicker. Humans going to space. Look at the attention Chris Hadfield acquired by expoliting the world’s popular media outputs, Twitter, YouTube etc. Top that off with quirky succinct style and musical creativity, you have yourself a huge following of appreciation and dreamers.

I’m certain, along with many others, that his Space Oddity cover has made a very large handful of kids look in lust and think ‘One day, I’ll go to space’. That’s what we need in this world. Adventurers, explorers, seekers of knowledge.

Anyway, The ISS is barely above the Earth and can only just be recognised as space at all. in comprehensible terms, the ISS is about 3/8ths of an inch away from the surface of the globe, if you are referring to a classroom globe. In the same scale, the moon is an astonishing 30 feet away, and Mars? a mile. A whole mile. They wouldn’t fit in your school books so the scale was never accurate (Information from Neil DeGrasse Tyson, Astrophysicist).

Compare the attention and excitement gathered from the Red Bull jump from a balloon to the excitement you would get if Humans went to Mars. The Curiosity Rover got a fair amount of article space, but far less than various filthy celebrities I only breeze past in my life much too briefly to know what any of their names are or what TV shows they’re on.

But humans? How would we react to that? We know robots go into space almost daily these days. 500 humans have gone into space since the first ever went up. Decades ago. There are currently, and usually, 3 people in space at any given time. And this is all within 3/8ths of an inch.

This is hardly pushing the boundaries of space.

If we went a whole mile on the previous scale to Mars, I imagine a whole cacophony of rapid heart beats around the world. But is that accurate? Just because I feel that way, doesn’t mean everyone else feels the same. I am heavily biased in my passion for the sciences.

People by and large take science for granted these days, which is great in its own right, but I do wonder, perhaps worry, that when the news comes about that humans land on Mars, there will be a few days of attention, posts on facebook and people looking at the image going ‘woah awesome’, before quickly fading into the abyss of general memes and back-pagers over the next couple of months.

Of course this is only wild presumptions and I sort of feel like I lack exposure to people outside of the internet to truly have a remote idea of how it would play out. But am I the only one that thinks the reaction to this would pale in comparison to the moon landing?

But what if we push the world of discovery further. What if we found *life*?

I would go crazy and immediately take a course in astrophysics and work my way into space without rest until I get there.

Would the world as a whole give a damn bar the superficial intrigue aforementioned?
Of course the first life we find is only going to be microbial, either somewhere in the depths of mars or maybe the watery underworld of Europa, one of Jupiter’s moons.

Is that impressive? Well, the level of awesomeness will depend on whether or not the discovered life is completely independent of us, or did they originate from the same roots of existence? What I mean is, did the seeds that theoretically planted themselves on earth share itself among other planets, thus containing the same core functions, or is this life created entirely, truly separately, simply by having the same universal ingredients to play with?

I don’t really know which is more exciting or provoking, but both are strong candidates for my first heart attack. One could mean that we come from space, not from Earth, another means that life essentially perpetuates universally, and is inevitable wherever you go, providing those most common of ingredients exist.

Would the economy-driven world of capitalism see this wonderous event as enough to re-ignite a passion for discovery and boost a permanent focus on driving our civilisation out into the solar system, or will it have to be left to the corporations that are willing to spend the book in order for long term gain (tourism, asteroid mining etc)?

This post was far more of a stream of consciousness than I had planned, but it’s something to think about. Are we honestly going to get out there? For me I think we need to, for a plethora of reasons, but if nothing else, to keep the human race from stagnating.

Just picturing the live footage of the first crew on the way to mars, it smells like a fresh breeze coating the entire Earth. Unshackled.