Starting Off With a Big Bang – Naturally

April 22, 2008

Creative Commons License photo credit: Eurritimia

Well, if another blog must be added to the ever-expanding blogosphere (which might now be growing at a rate similar to that of the universe itself), it makes sense to begin at the beginning of all energy-the “cosmogenesis,” when all matter, time and energy as we know it came into existence, commonly known as the “Big Bang.”

Now, as you can quickly discern, I have just opened a universe-sized can of worms here, as this “explosive” topic can be a source of endless spirited discussion among scientists, philosophers, theologians, and countless casually interested people with an opinion of some kind, so pretty much everyone. But that is exactly the point, as this blog is not intended to be a font of irrefutable truths, but rather an informal forum for interesting opinions and a starting point for conversation.

In any case, the universe was born and all matter and energy came into existence.

Creative Commons License photo credit: Space Ritual

Some 8 to 10 billion years after the universe as we know it was set into motion, our own sun formed in the Milky Way galaxy, and has ever since then been supplying Earth with a steady stream of energy; from direct forms, such as the sun’s rays warming the atmosphere, to indirect forms such as photosynthesis, in which plants convert solar radiation into stored chemical energy. Photosynthesis, incidentally, is the ultimate source of the energy in all fossil fuels, so any licensed driver better know about it.

For an interactive look at the basics of photosynthesis, click over to this site, courtesy of the clever people at the PBS show Nova (As a bonus, the explanatory text uses the common measure rhyme scheme.)

Of course, for the best three-minute tour from the Big Bang to the stuff that eventually turned into overpriced gasoline for your Hummer, visit the 18-screen video wall at the entrance to the Wiess Energy Hall here at the Houston Museum of Natural Science.

Humans have been using energy as long as they have been human, starting with the conversion of the caloric content of food into work – a change of chemical energy into kinetic energy. For an excellent primer on all forms of energy, check out the following link to our very own U. S. Department of Energy. Although, designed for kids, it’s a great overview for anyone.

And so, let the blogging begin. Your energetic reactions, comments and suggestions are encouraged.

Authored By Paul Bernhard

Paul Bernhard has been actively involved with the Museum’s Wiess Energy Hall for fifteen years, but he still doesn’t know how to assess the influence of the Boycott effect on drilling mud flow, or even how to calculate the Gibbs free energy of PEMFP fuel cells. Nonetheless, due to sheer longevity, Bernhard has become the spokesman for all things energy-related at the Museum. His blog will reflect this.

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