From Dust to Dust

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According to theory, all of the matter, space, time and energy were once confined to a very small concentrated area that began to expand as a "Big Bang." Just a very small fraction of a second into this expansion, extremely hot quark-gluon plasma preceded the formation of protons and neutrons, which later attracted electrons, forming atoms. The simplest and most abundant of these made the element hydrogen. As the early universe continued to expand and cool faster than the speed of light, superclusters of galaxies began to develop along the strands and fabric of the cosmos.

Raw materials for the making of the early universe came in the form of gas and tiny particles called dust. The dust coalesced into pockets and the force of gravity drew the dust into clumps, the seeds for the formation of stars, planets, and stellar system debris such as moons, comets, asteroids and meteoroids. When temperatures reached sufficient levels, thermonuclear fusion reactions occurred via the proton-proton chain, ultimately creating helium and other heavier elements. A star is born! Heat from the core of a star radiates outward, causing an expansion. Gravity pulls inward toward the core, opposing the expansion. This balancing act creates a state of equilibrium. As the star depletes its hydrogen fuel supply, the balance is disrupted and gravity takes over, causing the star to contract. Heavier elements in the core begin to burn, and the higher temperatures lead to a great expansion, resulting in a red giant or supergiant star. Our star, the sun, will undergo this transformation in about 50 million years. It will ultimately blow out its outer layer into space, forming a roughly spherical shell of gas and dust known as a planetary nebula, leaving behind a white dwarf. If the mass of a star is several times greater than that of the sun, its fate would be a tremendous explosion known as a supernova. Shock waves from the explosion of the old star create a rippling effect in nearby molecular clouds, leading to the formation of new stars.

It has been said that we are made of star stuff, the heavier elements created from supernovae, the death of these massive old stars (though their lifespan is much shorter than lower mass stars). If all the chemical compounds making up the entire human body were purchased, they would add up to about 98 cents. You see, we are made from the dust, and someday we will return to the dust from which we are made. Is it possible that the chemical compounds alone can provide a living being? Or is there something beyond the dust that makes us "alive?" Could it be that we are actually a spirit housed inside of a human body? Then, when the dust returns from which it came, we shall go on into eternity. Will the universe eventually run out of seeds for new star formation, leading to a depletion of the raw materials required and an end to the universe as we know it? Or will the prevailing dark matter, as evidenced from the study of rotation curves in galaxies indicating that we are only detecting roughly 10% of the mass that makes them up, somehow trigger a continuation of the universe at large? Perhaps a new heaven and a new earth are in the works.

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Source by Kevin Manning