13.7 Billion years ago, all of the matter in the universe was compressed into a mass that was dense, (when scientists say that it was about a billion times denser than that of water, I think it must mean it was even denser my mother’s meatloaf) and incredibly hot (100 billion Kelvin is probably hotter than Johnny Depp in a pair of Calvin Klein jeans).
Compressing the entire history of the universe into a single year…
On January 1st, for some, as yet, unknown reason, the universe began to expand rapidly.
Over the next 4 months, the temperature started to drop, elements like hydrogen and helium appear, and stars began to form.
May 1st, the Milky Way took shape. It’s within this galaxy that we will live out our lives. But not yet!
August 1st, our solar system formed, and our sun was born. And it’s here in this solar system that we will live out our lives. But not yet! It would take nearly a month for the surface of the earth to cool enough for the surface to solidify and an atmosphere to form.
September 1st, the earliest known organism’s make their appearance here on our world. These simple, single celled bacteria and algae give no indication that earth will soon be flush with diverse plant and animal life. Well, not too soon, because it takes another three months for enough oxygen to accumulate in the atmosphere to create an ozone layer that blocks deadly UV rays from reaching the surface of the earth.
December 16th, the first worms appeared on earth. Isn’t this an exciting day? Worms! Life was getting more complex and in two more days, the earth was home to its first fish.
December 21st, life moved out of the water and onto land. Over the next few days, amphibians and reptiles flourished until…
December 24th when dinosaurs ruled the land. Unfortunately, they won’t last long. In the next three days, mammals and birds appeared, but the dinosaurs went extinct on December 28th.
December 29th, primates appeared. Our ancestors change everything. Within one day, we’ve developed a frontal lobe. While that may sound boring, it’s what makes our complex language and social systems possible. Because of our frontal lobe, we can recognize future consequences, choose between good and bad actions, override and suppress socially unacceptable responses, and determine similarities and differences between things or events. The earth has never seen anything as advanced and complex as the human brain.
December 31st at 10pm, the first humans appeared– in all our bipedal glory!
December 31st at 11pm, we learned how to use tools!
December 31st at 11:59pm and 20 secs, we discovered that we can grow our own fruits and vegetables, so we can stop living the nomadic life. Finally, we can settle down and call a place home! As a result, science and culture boom. Over the next several seconds, we discover how to work with bronze and iron, we create an alphabet, and, to the dismay of high school students everywhere, algebra, geometry, and physics are born.
December 31st at 11:59pm and 59 seconds. Columbus sailed for the New World.
January 1st at 12:00am. You are here.
That’s how long your 80 year life span registers in cosmic time.
What are you going to do with your .16 seconds that is worthy of you? You don’t have a lot of time, so it’s a good idea to focus on what’s really important.