For those concerned about nanotech/biotech armageddon scenarios (e.g., runaway experiments that eradicate Life As We Know It and leave the surface of the Earth a mass of gray goo), consider a worse nightmare: a transformation that destroys all preexisting physical structures throughout an entire universe. The horror! The horror!

But of course, that's precisely what has already happened to us --- yes, our very own cosmos --- and more than once. Early on in the Big Bang, temperatures and densities were so high that all matter was a sea of quarks and gluons and photons (oh my!). As the expansion proceeded and things began to cool, protons and neutrons began to form and then coagulate into nuclei. An æon later, when the thermometer fell below 10,000 degrees, electrons at last were able to stick to the nuclei --- and so atoms took shape. Still later and cooler, those atoms began to stick together to form molecules ... dust ... planets ... stars ... galaxies ....

Each of those transitions was a cosmological change of state --- far more radical than a mere freezing of the oceans or other terrestrial shift. Without them, we wouldn't be here; with them, countless other possibilities never happened.

Saturday, April 14, 2001 at 13:34:14 (EDT) = Datetag20010414


(correlates: ListenToHim, FabuloTech, RecombinationEra, ...)