An awesome story

The story of the universe rarely fails to fill me at the same time with awe, with terror, with wonder,with joy.

Here is the story in pictures that only we of this generation have ever seen.  The fast version will zip through in two minutes.  If like me you would also like to have time to look at the photos for a little longer than a mini-second, click on the on/off icon on the lower left of the screen, and then use the right-hand cursor movement or arrow key on your keyboard to move the pictures.  Each picture takes between 4 and 7 clicks to move forward.

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About Terry Sissons

Terry Sissons is the author of The Big Bang to Now: All of Time in Six Chunks, and this blog is a dialogue about the universe and what’s happened in the last 13 billions years.
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8 Responses to An awesome story

  1. Henk Meevis says:

    Can someone explain to me where deities fit into the big bang picture.

    • I’m afraid there are many explanations about where dieties or where God might fit into the picture of the big bang. Some people believe that it is a diety or God which created the universe with the big bang. Other people think the idea of dieties or God is a word we humans use when we can’t explain something and that “gods” don’t really exist. There are also those who say that the bible is the inspired word of God, and that when science contradicts the bible, it is science that is wrong.

      It gets even more complicated than that. Because not everybody who believes in the bible interprets it in the same way. Some believers say that many of the stories in the bible are meant as metaphors to teach us a higher truth. Other believers say that every word must be literally and factually true. Those believers thinks science is wrong, that the big bang never happened but that the world was created in seven days about 4,000 years ago.

      And there are those who say that our concepts of dieties are simply projections of ourselves, and that if there is a god or God, it is a mystery far deeper than human understanding.

      So for many people it’s a profoundly important question that you ask. But one that each of us must ultimately answer for ourselves. We can listen to what others say and think. But in the end, it is up to you to decide where you think the dieties fit into the picture.

      If you are like me, you will try out most of the answers at some point or another in your life.

      • Henk Meevis says:

        Henk Meevis
        I have been reading your reply to my question with interest. Thank you. In reply I copy you with an excerpt from an earlier articel by my pen.
        Quantity nor variety of deities seems important, certain seems to be that there either is only one god or there is no god. Two different gods, or more then two, lead to dispute, and thus to disagreement, conflict and unresolved argument on the sensitive God subject, with no one able to come forward and prove fact or truth. General observation makes it clear to me that religious representatives of any particular Deity are not debating the issue. They are selling dogmatic believe in the form of proved truth and fact. Dire punishment is threatened to all doubters, apparently in a brutal attempt to bring some equilibrium in the equation.

        Controversial scriptures, like the Koran, the Jewish Torah, the Old Testament Bible, all written ages ago, over time having precipitated into our current cultures, prove absolutely nothing. They are all man-written and, with a God or Insha’h Allah Supreme supervisor invented, to function as factual supportive evidence.

        It is my personal and considered opinion that god(s) did not create human form. At some stage in history Humans created their particular Gods from time to time, conform the limits of their personal mental capacities and intellect of the time and the shrewd amongst them exploited the others for self aggrandizement and personal enrichment. Look no further then the Vatican for a living example.

        To be ‘Gnostic in believe’ means to propound to possess esoteric knowledge, in particular in the spiritual sense. Originally, Gnosticism was presented and accepted as divine unquestioned knowledge as the one and only godlike mystery. But, as time passed on and as has happened to practically all religions and cults in a multitude of variations, almost all based on fear and promise, many such esoteric ideas have been expounded and adjusted to suit the intentions, materialistic or otherwise, of some shrewd individuals, at the expense of the many weak and gullible believers. One could safely say here that religion is simply a system of “Economics In Engineered Indoctrination”, as elucidated in my thesis at earlier times. And as can be seen the world over, this system manifests itself in the collection of pennies from the believing masses, used for building god houses and for keeping the clergy living in luxurious, rich surroundings by their self chosen appointment as god’s representatives.

        One could summarize and state here; ‘Transference of indoctrinated fear, sprouted from the roots of the unknown and of the unexplained and mysterious, to the untold gullible victims, of unproved, non-factual fake stories by self-appointed, self-serving so called spiritual esoteric manipulators, playing the game of master indoctrinators’, flows, if multiplied thousands fold, the surely ultimately untenable situation of a spaghetti bowl of believes in religions, the one more unacceptable and unbelievable as the next. Indoctrinated fear and promise, balanced with damnation and fire, controls all and everyone.
        My simple suggestion to stabilize the eternal disputes; WAKE UP TO REALITY !

      • Thank you for the excerpt from your article. Is it available some place where I might be able to read it in full?

        Broadly speaking, I personally agree with what you say. But I think the important issue for human society is not that we necessarily agree with each other. None of us are right about everything – even the geniuses among us are sometimes wrong. What I think is desperately important is that we learn to listen to and respect opinions and beliefs of others with which we disagree.

        It’s scary, don’t you think, that for thousands of years we humans, of almost every religious and political persuasion, have justified enslaving and killing people simply because they disagree with us? And we’re still doing it!

        I’d be interested in your further thoughts.

      • Henk Meevis says:

        Thanks for your words in reply to the excerpt. This is part of a larger essay I am still working on. In due course I shall contact you again in this respect.
        You say that all of us are wrong sometimes. I agree with you, we cannot be right all the time. This does however not mean that we should not strive for perfection in the truth arena. Just to show how I think how clever we are, or think we are, I copy you with a little story which, on the face of it seems funny, but is not really a joke. Enjoy!The current modern Voortrekkers do not have an old Transvaal to trek to where they expect to find diamonds and gold. They do have, however, other territory to explore, hoping in a gigantic endeavour, to reach the new territory and say hello to our far away neighbours, over a glass of water.

        On the Moon we have already been walking around, albeit taking our own water along with us. On Mars we have just landed a beach buggy to search for it. What a colossal, gigantic effort to escape Earth Gravity and find the way thereto without fail. How clever we are, aren’t we, to achieve all this. Hail Homo!

        We even have built Hadron Particle Colliders to create tiny ‘big bangs’ and hope we can compare some of the results of our engineered “big bang” machinery, how we came to be where we currently are. But is all this really so very clever?

        Take, for instance, by way of a simple sample, an ordinary match. Hold it, look at it, strike it and see it burn, consume itself until it is fully extinguished. What have we been able to observe during this fiery burning process?

        1. the fresh, unused match, waxed wood and phosphoric strike tip
        2. sparks and the burning match, after striking it at suitable surface
        3. the various lights produced by the sparks and the burning substance
        4. the heat of the burning effect, being able to be felt but not seen
        5. the gasses and smoke the burning produced, see it rising up in the air
        6. the smell of the entire burning process only to notice but unseen
        7. the noise of the burning process, faint crackling to be heard
        8. the remains of the burned out match, visible carbon and ash

        That, you may agree, seems a very unexciting normal occurrence and executed millions of times on every day worldwide. Now then we have, as mentioned above, at astronomically costs, walked on the Moon and contacted, physically, Mars. Our nearest celestial neighbours, so to speak.

        Since we were able to engineer that colossal performance of space exploration, does it seem reasonable to say that we could somehow engineer the collection and saving of all the ingredients in whatever form they have been observed and exist, of the burning match. And this saving of ingredients to include all the leftovers in the forms of having felt, seen, smelt, even heard, of the entire simple process of the burning match?

        Personally I have no knowledge that such or anything similar has ever been accomplished. The question here is however that, having at some stage in the burning match process, been in possession of all the ingredients, could we reverse the process and create a match again, much like a film shown in reverse? Negative! We cannot.

        Final question then? Is Homo Sapiens still rated as clever or as dumb?
        Be your own judge!

      • You ask some penetrating questions: -will we ever manage to colonize another planet? my own guess, as I think is yours too, is that we will. Unless we manage to destroy earth’s environment sufficiently to become extinct first. But I’m hopeful that we won’t. – can we reverse time? as I understand it, scientists now say that time is irreversible. Experiments seem to show that the particles before and after they have been assembled to create a larger object and then reduced again to its component parts (into a match which is then burned, for instance), and predictably different. So entropy doesn’t exactly get us back to square one. -how smart are we? don’t you think it depends on what we think it is to be clever? And doesn’t that depend on the needs of any given situation? Early European colonists in the deserts of Australia thought they were much smarter than the Aborigine natives, and so they sent their guides away in a haughty dismissal. All the colonists perished because they didn’t know how to survive for very long in the desert, while the natives did. Besides, as Einstein (I think that’s who it was) said that what we don’t know is defined by what we do know. So that the more we know, the bigger our questions. I certainly know that my own questions are much bigger than they were back when I was a mere child.

        Interested to know what you think. And I’m looking forward to reading the full article when it is completed. Thank you for sharing. THS

      • Henk Meevis says:

        Thanks for your encouriging reply to mine.
        1. Exhausting our planet recources. The way we are presently performing in our consumers societies, increasingly encompassing the entire world, the likelyhood that we shall ultimately turn canibalistic, must not be underestimated. That is, of course, if we do not die of thirst first.
        2. My matchstick example is not intended to touch the time reversal aspect. It was purely presented as a chemical/mechanical challenge to stimulate some thought.
        3. Smartness. I like to think that every individual functions on his/her own maximum level of intelligence. The actual level is unimportant and should only be called to action if compared with others as a stimulus to improve personal performance.
        4. Question; Different topic; What, generally speaking, constitutes happiness? Personally I feel that happiness is best covered by the meaning of the word “contentment”. However, there is danger in that meaning. Contentment means to be satisfied with life as it unfolds for any individual, or for groups or even nations. Being satisfied holds that there exist no urge to strife for change. Life becomes dormant and progress is blocked. There is no forward movement. Conclusion; It appears to be fatal for humankind to be happy, if we ever want to reach for the stars.

      • I’m afraid I agree with you about exhausting our planet resources. Looking at the history of extinctions during the 4 billion years or so during which there has been life on earth, many were caused by the very success of the organism who did just that – exhausted the very resources on which they depend. Shortages of food and water, as you point out, are serious possibility. We are even depleting the very atmosphere we breathe, and which protects us from the sun’s destructive rays.

        Smartness. I agree that by and large we are all doing our best. I do think westerners today often tend to have a far too narrow of intelligence, however. It comes in many different forms, and even though someone may be a genius in some ways, s/he may be close to retarded in others. Einstein, for instance, seems to have been somewhat autistic, and unable to read interpersonal signals that many people of lesser apparent brilliance can do far better. Intelligence includes such a wide range of independent abilities that I’m sure either of us could fill a book with examples.

        I do wonder about human smartness, though. Are we smart enough not to degrade our planet so badly that we can no longer live in it?

        Happiness – now that’s an interesting question. But what if we change the question just slightly, and instead of asking “what is happiness,” we ask “what makes us happy?” I find the answer to that question slightly more encouraging. Because one of the things we love to do is to solve problems. We love to figure things out. We love to make things work. So maybe we will, after all, solve the problem of how we can live on this planet without killing ourselves.

        What do you think?

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