People usually start thinking I’m crazy when I get exited about existence, from the smallest to the biggest, from biology to astronomy, life to death. But it’s all so goddamn amazing, I don’t know how to keep it all pent-up. I’ve tried before but I get antsy. So now I’ll risk embarrassment for the potential reward of someone responding with equal excitement.
Think about how crazy awesome all this is. Look at your hand. You are composed of atoms. Everything inside you is atoms: protons and neutrons in a core surrounded by spinning electrons with an ability to exist in two places at once. I mean, holy hell. If that isn’t enough reason to always be happy, I don’t know what is. Electrons don’t orbit a nucleus like a planet does a star. Instead an electron orbits in a chaotic pattern that we define in probability terms as orbitals. They are simply our best guess as to where the electron may be.
Who comes up with this stuff?
Something even cooler is that these atoms are mostly empty space. If the nucleus were the size of a pea, the empty space around it, filled negligibly with electrons, would be the size of a football stadium.
So here we are, nearly entirely empty space, thinking we are some kind of hot stuff in this universe. You shouldn’t mind though because it’s frigging awesome.
Since we are entirely composed of atoms and nothing else, and we study atoms and try to understand what they are and how they work, we are actually an atom’s attempt to understand itself. How cool is that?! It’s goddamn awesome, that’s how cool it is.
So here we’ve got this collection of atoms trying to understand itself. How did it do that? Well, approximately 3.6 BILLION years ago, these atoms coalesced into complex molecular structures with the ability to self-replicate. Now this isn’t a difficult thing to happen; it happens relatively often. There is another explanation that this coalescing occurred on another planet and ventured to ours by way of asteroid transit. This theory is equally awesome but the method of the coalescing was still the same on that other rock. So back to the self-replicating molecule. This molecule soon developed a code. It was a code of nucleic acids that signaled for different amino acids in the strand of a protein. Say you have an adenine, a uracil, and a guanine in an RNA strand. That combo codes for the amino acid methionine to be next on this protein string. Methionine is very special because it has a sulfur dangling from it that likes to react with stuff. It is also awesome because it is a major suspect as the leading cause of aging. The lack of it in a lifelong calorie restricted diet is hypothesized as the reason that the low-calorie diet extends lifespan so significantly.
But that was a tangent, back to proteins. So this code, well established throughout earth-dwelling lifeforms, paved the way for our progress to where we are now. Bacteria, which are simple collections of self-replicating molecules wrapped in walls of fat came about. Then the eukaryotic cell, which had provided itself with little neighborhoods encased in fat, came around. Those eukaryotes(our cells) engulfed a prokaryotic cell (bacteria type cells) which led to the organelle now called a mitochondria, or the powerhouse of our cells.
In this organelle, all that junk you eat is converted into a standardized form of energy for the cell, adenosine triphosphate which is simply a molecule that wants to break apart and in doing so, release energy for your cell to accomplish stuff. This conversion comes with a cost, but is a necessary standardization, sort of like the euro in Western European countries. It standardizes the currency and simplifies the process for the rest of the cell.
Proteins are what do all this. While the fat helps to keep everything organized and occasionally intervene, the proteins are the major player in the game of life. They are constantly altering their shape and in doing so can accomplish tasks that seem impossible on a molecular level. They can walk along stands of actin-this is how your muscles contract. They can act as gates-this is how your muscles receive the signal to contract. They can form pillars which give the cell rigidity. They can act as markers like name tags or fingerprints and recognize when foreign invaders are present. This is all happening by molecules which collectively act for the sole purpose of reproducing your genetic code. You may think these molecules care about you, but they don’t. All they care about is taking that DNA safely encased in those several walls of fat, and making more of it. Your DNA really does control you, there is no doubt about it. You are simply a vessel to help transport and deliver the DNA. Whichever molecule of DNA does this best wins. That is the basis of evolution by natural selection. You are here because your DNA kicked other DNA’s asses. That’s life.
But what about this rock; where did it come from? Well, 13.8 BILLION years ago some crazy stuff happened that we don’t entirely understand. But 13.8 BILLION years ago minus one millisecond, we do know what happened. There was a massive explosion in which all matter present in the universe today was created and spread out in a massive spectacle that’s evidence still lingers and can actually be seen in television static. How crazy is that?! That is some seriously old ass static. From there we had a giant expanse of dust. It was mostly hydrogen with a bit of helium, lithium, and a tiny amount of beryllium. That’s it. Just those guys-no gold, no silver, no uranium, or even carbon. This dust was spread near evenly throughout the universe. All matter has gravitational force and these dust particles were all pulling on one another. Had they been spread evenly without any hint of imperfection, they would have pulled equally and never come together. Fortunately for our almost entirely empty, slaves to DNA, selves, there were imperfections. The dust particles came together and formed into bigger and bigger pieces of dust until eventually, they were massive orbs, compressed densely under their own pressure, releasing immense amounts of radiation energy. These first stars with all their energy, fused the hydrogen, helium, lithium, and beryllium into heavier elements on up to iron. These stars also pulled on each other and formed the first galaxies. Of this first round of stars, some of them became unstable as old age set in and exploded. In their explosion, lighter atoms fused together to make the heaviest and rarest elements that we find on earth.
The carbon that comprises your fatty self came from nuclear fusion in the inside of a massive star. The gold on your finger came from the explosion of that massive star. So here we are, nearly entirely comprised of empty space, collections of subatomic particles that defy everything logical by existing in two places at once, driven by a narcissistic molecule that’s only desire is to reproduce, riding on the surface of a massive spinning ball of star-dust, fueled by the energy of a massive burning ball of hydrogen some 93 million miles away, and we are worried about how our hair looks.
How can we not get excited about this stuff? I’m not making this crap up. This is the reality of our universe. We get this one opportunity to observe it and what do we do? We crap all over it with our mundane lives, worrying about our superficial drama. I am overwhelmed with awe. I can’t take it anymore. This place is just too goddamn amazing and surreal to be overlooked. It doesn’t upset me that I am mostly empty space or that I only resulted from a molecule’s selfish desires. It excites me, especially to know that I’m one of the ones who is aware of that molecule’s devious ways. I am saddened by the huge number of people who are uninterested in real knowledge over a supernatural being. I’ll admit, sometimes I am nonfunctional in society because I am so stricken with awe. But I’d rather be overwhelmed and conscious, than be another victim to DNA’s egomaniacal reign. Religion is a creation of DNA to defend itself against being discovered and overlooked. When we realize what is going on, we become less interested in reproducing and more interested in adventure and discovery. It saddens me to see so many companions on this giant rock fall victim to this molecule, but I also realize the superficiality of it when compared to something so epic as the universe.
I know this all seems crazy and too hard to believe. This is often proposed as an argument against everything that I just said, that it is TOO awesome to be true. But this argument is backwards and that is why it does not hold water. It is true exactly because it is this awesome. If it were not this awesome, we would not be observing it and would not be able to tell how awesome it is. So how did it become this awesome in its one chance? Because it wasn’t its one chance. Our universe is likely only one in a vast collection of universes. We are merely a part of a vast multiverse. We are a spectator in a snow globe, with no ability to see beyond the walls that confine us and witness our enormous insignificance. There really is no point to it other than the one we create for ourselves. You weren’t put here to help others or to help yourself. You are simply an observer with the ability to create your own purpose. And personally, I’m going to explore the crap out of this place before I peace out.
- 20 amazing facts about the human body (guardian.co.uk)
- DNA Molecules Found in Interstellar Clouds –Predate Birth of Our Solar System (dailygalaxy.com)
- How cells optimize the functioning of their power plants (eurekalert.org)