This energy takes 150,000 years to work its way from the center of this ball of hydrogen (and helium) to the outside of the ball, jumping from atom to atom. When it finally reaches the surface, it leaves as pure energy, photons, or light. And a star is born. And our local ball of hydrogen, our sun, an average size star, converts just under 5 million tons of hydrogen into helium every second (4.3 x 108 kg/second).
If the Big Bang was 13.82 billion years ago, it has been calculated that our galaxy, the “Milky Way” (‘galicos’ is the Greek work for milk) started around 13.2 billion years ago and is larger than most other galaxies.
- However, I have heard that matter and gravity did not stabilize until 9 to 10 billion years.
So, about 5 billion years ago a giant star exploded as a Super Nova. This must have happened because of the matter from which we and our world are created. Inside any star, such as our sun, hydrogen turns into helium. As the star ages, and runs out of hydrogen, the star begins to collapse because the outer pressure of energy is being reduced. The added inward pressure makes helium turn into lithium, lithium into berilium, boron, carbon, nitrogen, oxygen. These are the building blocks that planets are made of, and our bodies too, as shown in the Periodic Table above. (Recently, it was announced that four new elements would be added at the end the periodic table, but they haven’t been formally named or added.)
And this process goes on and on until you get to element #26, Fe, iron. Iron is a magic substance, because when it is created, it does not create any excess energy. It is, in fact, perfect and stable. So all this combining stops there. But what about all the elements beyond iron? Nickel, copper, silver, gold? And what about lead and uranium?(Uranium at Element 92 is the heaviest naturally occurring element.)
Obviously, these other elements couldn’t be made by nuclear fusion in a star, even, so where to they come from? They came from that giant star, 10 or more times bigger than our sun, that lived before our sun and exploded as a Super Nova in the space we now live. The pressure inside the Super Nova was enough to create all the elements. Inside that sun were elements 1-26, its explosion caused elements 27-92.
All the others, element 93 and beyond, were created in atom smashers by scientists.But they deteriorate, by radioactivity, down into lesser elements, It’s funny, elements 1-25 want to turn into iron. Elements 27-109 deteriorate into…iron. I told you, iron is magic.
- Was there is time from the creation of our galaxy (13.2 billion years) to the formation of our sun (4.567 billion years) – 8.633 billion years between them – for at least one, and possibly two, much larger previous stars.
- Can we tell how big the previous star(s) were by the size of our Solar System, by the mass of the planets and sun and other left-overs? It must have been at least ten solar masses, just to become a Supernova. Stars the size of our sun do not become Supernovas. Or was it more than one star, more than one supernova?
- Often, a second Supernova is the catalyst for star formation. But there doesn’t seem to be enough time for TWO Supernovas back-to-back. If there were stars before us in our region of space, they would have to be short-lived stars. Our sun is estimated to last for another 5 billion years, until it expands as a red giant and then fades to a white dwarf for many billions of years (some estimates say trillions). Short-lived stars are always (?) giant stars.
Let’s start with the explosion of the giant star that lived in our space before the sun.
- Was it precisely where our sun now sits (on the Orion Spur from the Sagittarius Arm of the Milky Way)? More than likely, the material ejected by that giant star would have spread out into clouds. The explosion of a super nova 15 light years away would have started the accretion process within this cloud of mostly hydrogen. This accretion turned the amorphous cloud into some pattern, most likely a disc, and the largest concentration would have turned eventually into our sun, with the second largest concentration turning into Jupiter, and so on. That would put the position of the cloud of gas, and the super nova that started the process, somewhere other than the position of our current sun. Can we create a computer program to take what is here now and run it backwards into what it was to the point of our solar system’s creation (the Supernova)?
- A second mystery is this. Most supernovae are caused by the collapse of red giant stars. Besides the debris from the explosion, they also leave a neutron star, pulsar or black hole. But since none of these has been seen or measured in the vicinity of our solar system (within 30 light years?), then a supernova cannot be the source. Smaller stars, such as white dwarfs, which is what our sun will eventually become, do not become supernovae.
The sun, which is 91% hydrogen, 8% helium, and 1% traces of other elements, coalesced from the remnants of the previous star 4.567 billion years ago. At the same time, the rest of the debris was also coalescing (or in some cases not coalescing) into planets, moons, asteroids, comets, Kuiper belt, Oort cloud and all other bodies that are gravitationally linked to our solar system.
Earth began coalescing after 4.55 billion years, only 30 million years after the sun formed. The process of coalescing is estimated to have taken only 100 million years. This planet-building period produced an estimated 40 planets. But many of these were in unstable orbits or were affected by the giant planets such as Jupiter.
- Is there some way to go backwards and determine the actual number of planets as the accretion process began, and what happened to them?
Around 4.533 billion years ago, the small proto-earth collided with another body, dubbed “Theia” a little smaller than Mars today. This collision did amazing things for earth.
- Gave earth its complete iron core, adding to its existing iron core, caused by the heavier materials (mostly iron) sinking down to the center of the proto-earth.
- The collision caused our planet to turn on it’s axis giving us the seasons we still have.
- The collision also made the metal core turn, which produced a magnetic field. Without this magnetic field we would not be protected from cosmic rays, heavy atomic particles and solar wind from our sun. Our atomosphere and water would have been swept away, as they were on Mars, which had no such collision..
- The collision produced an immense amount of material circling the earth that turned into the moon, without which we would not have tides, and protection from many of the asteroids and similar smaller bodies that would otherwise bombard the earth..
- The moon accreted in less than a month from all this material.
- How fast does our core turn? Faster than the rotation of the earth? How fast did it turn right after the collision? Is it slowing down?
- A flip of our magnetic field is imminent, and happens about every 25 million years.
- The collision moved the proto-earth on its axis, giving us the seasons.
- The collision gave the earth its current rotation of 24 hours. Prior to collision, the day was around 6 hours long. The drag between earth and the moon slows this down by 1 minute per million years, and the moon moves away at 1.5 inches per year. When first formed, the moon was only 15,000 miles away and must have been a spectacular site, filling the night sky. Of course, 4.533 billion years ago, there were no creatures of any description to witness this. Oh, for a Time Machine….
- When first formed how much of the sky was filled? How many degrees? (Wish we still had Chesley Bonestell to paint a picture.)
- The tides and other lunar-influenced phenomena must have been spectacular with (mile-high?) waves.
The increased gravity of the resulting combined earth was enough to hold on to water and gasses in an atmosphere, even when vaporized by this and future collisions. After it cooled down from the collision, water vapor turned into rain. Besides liquid water, the atmosphere was carbon dioxide and methane. The constant rain, which lasted for thousands of years, also contain huge amount of lightning.
The Miller-Urey experiments, done in 1952 (published in 1953), running an electrical arc through an atmosphere of carbon dioxide, methane, and liquid water, (done at the University of Chicago) produced amino acids, one of the essential building blocks of life.
Around 4 billion years ago, the other planets were being re-arranged. Neptume, which had been inside the orbit of Jupiter, was flung out beyond Uranus, into what is now called the Kuiper Belt. The Kuiper Belt consists of billions of pieces of the previous supernova, and the re-arrangement of planets sent a planet in the midst of the Kuiper Belt, scattering millions of them in wild orbits, and initiating long-period comets, many of which collided with earth and brought much of the water to out little world..
- Can we tell which water was Kuiper-Belt water and which was asteroidal (near field) water? There is recent evidence thast earth-water is NOT comet or asteroidal water but was a product of volcanism alone. Are there any other potential sources of water for the proto-earth?
These comets and other objects from the Kuiper Belt hit everything, including the earth and the moon. In fact, virtually all the craters on the moon were caused by this “Late Heavy Bombardment”. The moon, being a body that coalesced earlier, would have been a smooth featureless body, all the craters, mountains, and other present features were formed by the bombardment. There is no evicence of volcaism on the moon since it has no plates or plate tektonics, as earth has. Therefore, the seas, cooled lava flows, were caised solely by major collisions with external bodies, and most likely during the “late heavy bombardment”. The side that is always turned toward us is a combination of smooth ‘mare’ (“seas”) and cratering. The other side, which we don’t see, was much more heavily bombarded, or at least that bombardment did not result in as much lava flow as the near side, so the cratering is much more intense and preserved..
- Does this indicate that the fixed position of the moon, one face to us and one face away, was an early certainty, based on the amalgamated contents that formed the moon?
Space rocks larger in diameter than Spain bombarded the early Earth, probably repeatedly eradicating emerging life. The last of these death rocks struck around 4.3 billion years ago. From Earth’s origin around 4.6 billion years ago until 3.8 billion years ago, the planet was such a hellish place that geologists call this eon the Hadean after Hades, the Greek god of the underworld. Debris left over from the solar system’s creation regularly slammed into Earth, boiling away the early ocean and coating the planet with molten rock. But it was during this chaotic period that scientists think life arose on Earth.
All the bombardment that hit earth at that time has been worn away or recycled by plate tectonics, although it is believe that life could easily have survivied, at least enough to keep on going. At 3.9 billion years, only 100 million years after it started, the late heavy bombardment was over.
The oldest material from this early earth is in the form of zircons, tiny crystals about 4 billion (?) years old.
It is interesting to note that the oldest indications of life are also 3.8 billion years old. This also coincides with the extensive lightining caused by the collisions and vaporization from large and small objects hitting this early full-sized earth.
- How close are we now to understanding how the building blocks of life arose and combined? How do we get from amino acids to blue-green algae?
Given the current expansion of the Universe, it is believe that the Universe will expand until there is nothing left, all energy will have been expended, all stars extinguished. One estimate is that this “Big Rip” will occur in 167 billion years. I also read trillions and trillions of years.
- Either way, this means we are in our early childhood, barely out of the Big Bang. Or maybe we are still in the Big Bang? At 13.8 billion years old, out of 167 billion years, if we compare this to a human life span of 80 years, we are currently just under 7 years old, If it is 13.8 billion out of trillions, then we are still in the womb.
- It is also interesting to note that the Big Bang had a temperature of ~infinte degrees. One second after the Big Bang, the temperature was 100 billion degrees C. According to the WMAP survey by the Planck Telescope, the universe is now at 2.7 degrees Kelvin.
Below are the greatest unsolved scientific mysteries. Given the year you are reading this, how many of these have been solved?
- How did life originate?
It doesn’t seem like this one should be so hard, but it continues to defy solution. There’s plenty of speculation, often related to RNA’s ability to act both as catalyst and bio–hard drive to store information. And new findings turn up all the time about how life’s basic building blocks could have been generated in primordial conditions or delivered to Earth from space. I think this question will end up having something to do with game theory, as biomolecules interact in competitive ways that could be described as strategies, and the math for calculating optimal strategies is what game theory is all about.
- What is the identity of the dark matter?
It has been eight decades or so since astronomers began to notice that there is more gravity pulling stuff around out in space than there is visible matter able to produce such effects. Attempts to detect the supposedly exotic (as in, unknown) species of subatomic
particle responsible for the extra gravity have been frustrating. Hints seen in some experiments have been ruled out by other experiments. I think there’s a missing piece to this puzzle, but it probably has nothing to do with game theory.
- What is dark energy that drives cosmic acceleration?
If you think dark matter is frustrating, try explaining dark energy. Something is driving space to expand at an ever increasing rate. Physicists think that they know what it is — the never-changing density of energy residing throughout all of space, referred to by Einstein as the “cosmical term” and now called the cosmological constant. But when you calculate how strong the cosmological constant should be, the answer is too big by dozens of orders of magnitude — much more than the difference between the size of the entire universe compared with a proton. So dark energy’s identity remains a mystery; if it is the cosmological constant, something else is seriously wrong with what physicists think they know. And so far game theory has been absolutely no help.
- How to measure evidence
This one is so mysterious that many scientists don’t even know there’s a mystery. But if they paused to think, they’d realize that the standard way of inferring conclusions from experimental data — calculating “statistical significance” — makes about as much sense as attempting a bunt when you are 10 points ahead. One small example: if you do an experiment and get a statistically significant result, and then repeat it and get a statistically significant result again, you’d think you have better evidence than doing the experiment only once. But if the significance level was a little less the second time, the combined “P value” would be less impressive after the second experiment, even though the evidence ought to be regarded as stronger. It’s a mess. Game theory would surely be able to help somehow, possibly by virtue of its relationship to thermodynamics.
- Genes, cancer and luck
You might have read recently that most cancer is caused by bad luck, as a study published in Science supposedly concluded. (Actually, the study concluded that the disparity in prevalence of cancer of various types was largely due to luck.) A firestorm of protest followed, essentially based on the belief that such a study must be wrong because it would “send the wrong message” to the public. Proving the illogic of that syllogism should be left as an exercise for the reader. Other responses revealed that experts do not agree on how random mutations (bad luck) compare with heredity (parent’s fault) plus lifestyle (your fault) and environmental exposure to bad things (somebody else’s fault) in causing cancer. Sorting all that out, and in the process solving cancer’s other mysteries, should be a high-priority exercise for 21st century science. And yes, there is a considerable amount of research relating game theory to cancer.
- Are there extra dimensions of space?
I don’t know why people keep thinking this is a mystery, as it has on several occasions been pointed out that there are no extra dimensions. However many there are, they are all absolutely necessary. Posed properly, this question should be how many dimensions of space are there? (For that matter, you could also ask about how many time dimensions there are, but that might overlap with No. 4.) Many physicists believe more dimensions than the ordinary three will be needed for physics to make sense of the universe. (Don’t even ask if they’re talking about bosonic or fermionic dimensions.) A key to understanding this issue is the mathematics of Calabi-Yau manifolds, which can curl up in gazillions of different ways to prevent easy detection of the additional dimensions’ existence. And that makes it really hard to figure out which of the gazillion possibilities would correspond to the universe we inhabit (unless there is some sort of fixed point theorem that would choose one, like a Nash equilibrium in game theory). In any event, anyone attempting to solve this riddle should first read Edwin Abbott’s Flatland, in which the protagonist character, A. Square, demonstrates the existence of an extra dimension and is promptly thrown in jail.
- The nature of time
So many mysteries, so little time in which to solve them, unless solving this one would reveal some clever tricks to play with time. Many submysteries underlie this one, corresponding to almost all of the 44 definitions of time in the dictionary (and that’s just as a noun). What’s the nature of duration and the flow of time — is it illusory or “real” in some elusive way? What about the direction of time — does it always go forward? Why? Is time travel possible, or can messages at least be sent backward in time? (Forward in time is easy — just print this blog post out and read it a year from now.) the biggest mystery is whether all these issues about time are related or are completely separate questions. Of course, it would all be simpler if somehow time could be connected to game theory, which it might be, because game theory can be related to cellular automata, which in turn can be related to time.
- Quantum gravity
Quantum physics and general relativity (aka Einstein’s theory of gravity) both seem to describe the universe and its components with compelling accuracy, yet they seem wholly incompatible with one another. Attempts to combine them into a coherent unified theory have been as successful as brokering compromise in the U.S. Congress. Yet there are clues. In 1930, Einstein tried to refute quantum mechanics (specifically, the Heisenberg uncertainty principle) by suggesting a clock attached to a box hanging on a scale could measure both the mass of a photon and the precise time that it escaped from the box. (Heisenberg said you couldn’t measure both at the same time). But Niels Bohr pointed out that the time on the clock would be uncertain, because as the box moved upward in the gravitational field, Einstein’s relativity required a change in time that would introduce just the amount of uncertainty in the timing that Heisenberg required. So how, you might ask, did the uncertainty principle know about this effect of general relativity? Maybe if the experts posed the question that way they would be able to figure out the quantum gravity mystery. The next best bet would be to undertake the study of quantum game theory, which hasn’t been adequately exploited yet in this regard.
- Does intelligent life exist elsewhere?
It’s tempting to delete the “elsewhere,” but given what passes for intelligence on Earth, it makes sense to wonder if anything like it could be blundering about on some distant world. It seems likely, given how many other worlds there are out there. But finding out for sure will probably require receiving an actual message. Projects like SETI have been listening for some such message, so far unsuccessfully. There are two (at least) possible explanations: One, there have been no messages (perhaps the aliens are experts at game theory and calculated that contacting humans would be a bad strategy). Two, the messages are there, but nobody knows how to detect or recognize them. Perhaps enhanced scrutiny is in order on Twitter, where numerous tweets every day seem most plausibly to be the work of aliens.
- The meaning of quantum entanglement
All sorts of quantum mysteries remain unsatisfactorily resolved, but maybe the rest would succumb if entanglement does. Entanglement occurs in systems with widely separated parts that share a common history; a measurement of one of the parts reveals what you will find out when you measure its distant relative. Entanglement is a fact of nature, well-established by experiment. It suggests that time and space do not constrain quantum phenomena the way they do ordinary human activity. Among the latest intriguing aspects of entanglement to be studied involves black holes. It seems that black holes can be entangled, which apparently is equivalent to their being connected by a wormhole. Related work suggests that space, time and gravity are all part of a vast quantum entanglement network. Since both the evolution of networks and quantum entanglement fit nicely into game theory, solving all sorts of mysteries might boil down to viewing the world from a game-theoretical perspective. But maybe that will still be too hard for human brains — it might take advanced artificial intelligence, which, as this paper suggests, might be created with the help of some version of quantum game theory.
In August. 2016. China launched a satellite which used quantum entanglement to create unbreakable encryption codes.