For those of you who grew up on the psychedelic haze of chemoautotrophs, centaurs, and comedic ballet that was Fantasia, the latest episode of MinutePhysics might give you some rumblings in your nostalgia regions. Sit back and enjoy "The Genesis of the Universe", written and narrated by Neil deGrasse Tyson, soundtracked by Stravinsky, and illustrated by our good friend Henry Reich.
We begin our story about 13.7 billion years ago, when all the space, matter, and energy of the known Universe was locked up in a volume less than one trillionth of the size of the point of a pen. Nope, I can't fathom that either. Incredible heat unified the collective forces of nature that describe our Universe, such as gravity, and for some unknown reason, this trillionth-of-a-pen-point space began to expand when everything around it was an inconceivable 1030 degrees Celsius and the Universe was a mere 10-43 seconds old.
"Under these extreme conditions, and what is admittedly speculative physics, the structure of space and time became curved, and it gurgled into a spongy, foam-like form," says deGrasse Tyson in the video above. "During this epic, phenomena described by Einstein's general theory of relativity - the modern theory of gravity - and quantum mechanics - the description of matter at its smallest scales - were indistinguishable from one another."
But then the Universe slowly cooled, and as it did, the laws that describe it split from one another, followed by a split between the strong nuclear force and the electroweak force. What ensued was an incredible release of stored energy, that induced a rapid 3010 increase in the size of the Universe.
What happens next? A whole, whole lot, because we still need to see the birth of photons; matter and antimatter particles; and protons, neutrons, and electrons out of the strange, opaque soup of matter and energy that resulted from the so-called Epic of Inflation. And then, somehow everything has to result in life, and you know, us.
If all of that sounds like pretty heady stuff to you, it sure is, but this is the best, most easy to follow explanation of how everything came to be that we've seen in a long time. Watch the latest episode of MinutePhysics above for yourself and get ready to come out of it feeling a whole lot smarter than you did going in. You're welcome.