There is something very Zen about Einstein’s most famous equation. E=mc2. mc2=E. Energy and matter are related through the equal sign. They are like Yin and Yang, opposites that are different presentations of the same stuff.
Keeping this equation in mind, which direction is our Cosmos moving? Observing the history of our Cosmos from the beginning of time, we see all existence channeling from the big “E” to the “mc2.”
Let’s see this play out:
We begin with a tiny ball of infinite mass and energy. Pop. The Big Bang occurs. At 10-43 seconds the universe has diffused enough energy for the force of gravity to condense out of the other forces. From 10-33 seconds to 10-5 seconds quarks and anti-quarks are able to condense out. These sub-atomic particles condense into protons and neutrons at 10-5 seconds.
Three minutes after the Big Bang, protons and neutrons have condensed to form 75% hydrogen and 25% helium nuclei. 300,000 years later, the universe has cooled enough for hydrogen to begin capturing electrons, forming the first atoms.
600 million years after the Big Bang, the first galaxies condense out of the clouds of hydrogen. Clumps of hydrogen condense into greater and greater densities, until hydrogen nuclei fuse together to form helium atoms. The difference in atomic mass is released as energy and stars are “hatched” out of the hydrogen clouds.
As the stars grow older, they will fuse heavier and heavier elements until all of the atoms we are familiar with today fill the universe. These will form our planets, precious metals, and, most importantly to us, will produce ample quantities of carbon, the element crucial to our form of life.
So from the beginning of time, our universe has gone from a state of infinite energy to an ever-expanding state of cooling, where matter condenses out of the light. Our universe grows ever denser, heavier stars forging heavier elements. Energy and matter are two states of the same stuff, and it comprises everything in the known existence.
We are truly stardust, forged in the centers of stars far more massive than our own. We are coalesced atoms that have traveled millions, possibly billions of light years. We are also more than this. We are condensed light. Everything around us is concentrated energy, massive quantities. We are, each of us, the concentrated force of a hundred atomic bombs.
What will happen to all of this? The original theory was that the universe would slow its expansion and eventually collapse back in upon itself. Now we are observing a universe that may expand forever until it freezes into absolute zero. As far as I am concerned, all bets are off. Finding out what the universe has in store for us is part of the fun.
What we know for now is that the Universe is all we know, and we are inextricably part of it.