Let us start by addressing the title itself, “The Origin of Everything”. But what exactly is everything? What is the first thing that comes to our mind when we think of the word ‘everything’? While the notion could differ from person to person, the broadest explanation of the word we can come up with is our Universe.
So, in a way, contemplating the origin of the Universe could lead the way towards discerning the origin of everything.
The Universe is all of space, time, and its contents – planets, stars, galaxies, etc. – in the form of either mass or energy. It consists of billions of galaxies; each galaxy consisting of billions of stars and their solar systems, and each solar system further consisting of many planets and their satellites.
Our planet Earth is one of the eight planets (sorry Pluto, apparently you’re not big enough to be considered a planet anymore) of our solar system, which itself is part of the Milky Way Galaxy, which itself is part of the Universe. So what we call home is a very small entity corroborating to the mammoth of the force the Universe is, the topic we’ll come back to later in further chapters.
The origin of the Universe is a notion that people have wondered about throughout human history, leading to many theories and assumptions, and even fictions and imaginations. Be it with the help of science, or philosophy, or religion, people have come up with many arguments regarding the subject through the years. For most of our human history, people had assumed the Universe to be one infinity, the one that was always out there, encapsulating everything from the beginning. However, there were no definite theories to the belief, it was all conjecture and speculation.
Then surfaced a discovery that was no less than an epiphany in terms of our understanding of the Universe and its origin.
In 1931, Edwin Hubble discovered that not only were the galaxies around us moving away from us, but the ones farther from us were also moving faster than the ones close to us. This led to an idea that what is expanding today must have started from a singular point and then expanded to get as infinite-seeming as it is today to us. This deduction suggested that all the energy and matter in the universe were initially a condensed mass- very small and infinitely hot. A huge explosion then sent the energy and matter expanding in all directions, the explosion termed as the Big Bang.
But it wasn’t until another discovery – extremely serendipitous – that the theory of the Big Bang was widely accepted.
Two scientists working at Bell Labs in New Jersey detected radiation that was acting as a source of excess noise in a radio receiver they were building – excess noise in the sense that they were not looking for it.
The radiation was Cosmic Microwave Background, known as CMB, and incidentally, there was another group of scientists actually looking for this CMB Radiation, who when heard about the Bell Labs result, realized that the CMB was found.
But, wait a minute. What is this CMB and how did it actually act as an attestation to the Big Bang theory?
The Big Bang theory predicts that the early universe was very hot and as the universe expands, the gas in it cools down. So had Big Bang really taken place, there should be the presence of remnant heat leftover from the explosion, otherwise known as the CMB. And thus, the finding of CMB led to the acceptance of the Big Bang theory.
The spread of mass and energy after the Big Bang soon led to the birth of atoms, the smallest particle every matter is composed of, and the combination of these atoms led to the birth of molecules. These atoms and molecules would further go on to make everything that there is today – including our planet earth and us.
Now that we have some inkling on how the Universe came to existence, next up, we will talk about how the solar system and our home, the Earth came into being.