Alpha Nerd! Podcast coming straight at you!

Hey people of Earth! Bill here, just wanted to give you the news that we recorded the first podcast last night and it's fucking barnburner!

Gabe, Kevin and myself worked our asses off to bring you the finest in Podcast entertainment!

I'll post updates here and give you the podcast as soon as the editing is done!


Billions and billions (The nature of existence.)

Around 13.7 billion years ago something pretty rad happened.

If you subscribe to Einstein's crazy "Theory of Relativity" you can look at what happened like this; the Universe was really tiny, so small in fact that it was compressed to the point of being infinite. So to lay that out for you, it was so small that it could be no smaller or more dense. At this point the Universe was really a crazy place, it was just a tiny infinite little spot sitting in, well we don't know what, just waiting for something to happen. There were different rules back then so our current physics don't really apply. There was a great deal of effects from Quantum Gravity (something that we are aware of, but since the Universe is much more spread out now we don't see it's effects the way you would have back at the Planck Epoch. There was infinite heat too! Shit was just CRAZY! 

Things just kept being really dense and really hot for an undetermined amount of time, then it happened.

"What happened? I'm dying to know!"

A fucking BIG BANG happened! In an instant there was rapid expansion, something that is still present today. Our infinite little Universe finally wanted to admit that Einstein was right (even though this was a few billion years before his birth) and started conforming to the rules we see around us in the present state of things. This rapid expansion is cataloged today fairly regularly using science that you can experience by going out and standing by the street. Straight up, you guessed it, the Doppler effect.

In the milliseconds (yes, I said milliseconds) following the big bang there was a shitload of activity. The time-frames for most of this stuff is measured in the smallest units of measurement we have for time, Planck time. All of the elementary particles in the Universe conceivably formed within the first few hundred seconds after the bang. The temperature around the Universe fell noticeably, paving the way for the next 50,000 years known as the "Nuclear Age".

During the Nuclear Age almost all of the hydrogen and helium in the Universe was formed. Matter started to become an actual "thing" as pairs and pairs of atoms began to form all over the place. This formative stage lasts until about 200,000,000 years after the big bang when the real shit starts jumping off!

From about 200,000,000 until 300,000,000 years after the bang the larger structures in the Universe started to form paving the way for the Stellar Epoch (creation of stars) which is still happening all around us today.

One of the larger structures that formed is something you might be familiar with:

The Sun, Sol, our best friend. Whatever you call it, the Sun is a big reason that we are here or anything in the general vicinity is. Made up of lots of Hydrogen and Helium (two of the most abundant things in the Universe), the Sun sits at the center of our solar system burning away with a surface temperature of around 5500c. The Sun also accounts for about 98% of the mass in our solar system, which is to say, it's pretty fucking big!

"98% of the mass? Not for long!"
The Sun creates a well of gravity around it, causing things in the nearby Universe to orbit it in a consistent manner. During the formation of our Solar system the Sun's gravity caused all of the matter in it's general vicinity to start spinning and forming in to what we see now, big spheres. All of the planets are formed out of this once loose material, tightly wound from years of orbiting the Sun and compressed in to the bodies we see in the night sky (as well as the one we're standing on).

Here's a breakdown from Berkeley that lays out the early solar system in a better fashion than I'm capable of (I get too excited and start rambling!):

"As astronomers reconstruct it, a cloud of interstellar dust and gas floated in our inconspicuous part of the Milky Way galaxy for several billion years. Then, a nearby supernova explosion blasted new material and a lot of energy into the cloud; as a result, or by coincidence, the cloud began to collapse on itself. Most of the material condensed in the center of the cloud to form a new star, our Sun, but about 1% of the cloud remained in orbit around the new star as dust and gas."

It's that remainder that formed the planets about 4.5 Billion years ago (give or take about 50 million years), making our planets relative newcomers in the Universe.

There is one planet that is rather important to our species, it shelters us from the hostile things that the galaxy has to offer as well as helping out with keeping us in a comfortable spot to live. A planet so special and such a huge part of our lives that we often take it for granted.

"Well, Hello there."
Jupiter is one of the biggest factors in our ability to exist as a species. Jupiter is a HUGE ball of mostly hydrogen, which has lead to speculation that it was all set to become a star and never quite got massive enough to make it happen. I like that idea, Arthur C. Clark explored it thoroughly in his 20XX series. In Dr. Clarke's vision Jupiter was a failed star that represented life for the inhabitants of the outer solar system once it was re-born as Lucifer, the second star in our neck of the woods. There is a beauty represented there that I think can really resonate with you if you've ever gazed through a telescope at the 3rd largest body in our night sky.

Jupiter shields us from the onslaught of debris that constantly works its way towards us via the Kuiper Belt. Jupiter's immense gravity works as a moat of sorts for all the millions and millions of objects pulled toward the center of the solar system. Asteroids get close enough to Jupiter to be locked in to the King of Planet's orbit, hence the 60 plus moons that currently orbit the big bastard.

In 2009 we were lucky enough to capture the collision of an object the size of several football fields with Jupiter. The Hubble telescope had just been upgraded and cleaned so they decided to show off in the best way possible. Check it out:

That was a relatively small object in comparison to the often Kilometer wide bodies that are spotted out there. Even then, Jupiter takes it right on the fucking chin. Yeah, there was some of the craziest weather the solar system has ever seen afterwords, but that is nothing new for Jupiter.

Jupiter's weather is the most intense in the solar system. There are segmented layers of different kinds of weather visible on the surface. When those layers contact each other it creates storms of such intense magnitude that they can be seen by amateur astronomers all the time. You might be familiar with the most famous weather system in the near galaxy; the Great Red Spot:

Are you staring in to it? Or it you? Trippy man.
People have observed the GRS since the 17th century. How fucking crazy is that? There is a storm, a fucking STORM that has been going on for hundreds (if not thousands) of years. Beat that hurricanes!

Jupiter's gravity also helped to put us in the "sweet spot" for life to form on Earth. Just far enough but still just close enough to Sun. Thanks Jupiter!

Jupiter is constantly hooking us up by being the cosmic bouncer we need and also hooking us up with natural beauty. It's so fucking insanely big that it actual gets referred to as the "Jovian System" (that includes it's moons) and with good reason. It is a good smaller scale model of what we see going on in the Universe all over the place; little things orbiting a bigger thing.

"Hey Hey Hey, it's Gravity!"
So now you might have a little more appreciation for Jupiter but that doesn't mean you should neglect your home! Hell, it's everybody's home!

BEHOLD! (Picture taken by the crew of Apollo 17!!!)
Earth. What a fucking glorious place huh? So far we've seen nowhere like it in the Universe (some inherently similar planets, but nothing quite like it so far). There are gas giants like a motherfucker, pretty much everywhere there's going to be a gas giant. But Earth! Livable, lovable mother to us all. What a fucking rare occurrence right?

So as the planets were forming something pretty awesome happened. A little ball of stuff started spinning up from that great cloud of Sol's left-overs. Earth was formed. Made up of Iron, Silicon and lots of Oxygen Earth fucking kicks ass on making life! With literally MILLIONS of species on it's surface and in it's ocean's it is the ONE place in the known Universe with the proven existence of life. The ONE, not the third of the eighteenth, but the only fucking one. One more time: THIS IS THE ONLY PLACE IN THE KNOWN UNIVERSE WHERE WE HAVE PROOF OF LIFE.

That's not to say that there is not life elsewhere (in the Universe it seems that when something is common, it's really fucking common. When you're dealing with the volume of the Universe and the great distances it covers it's really stupid to think there isn't SOMETHING else out there but more on that in another article) it's just not anywhere that we can see it, or it's impact on something.

So a little more than 4.5 billion years ago this great ball of mostly Iron starts taking shape. The first few hundreds of thousands of years are filled with vulcanism and a roiling molten surface. That cooled down fairly quickly and liquid water started to appear in the atmosphere to further cool the molten rock. Somewhere around this time the Moon formed as well.

The Moon has an intense effect upon our existence, keeping the tides moving and the internal temperature of Earth regulated by slowly tugging it as it orbits. The Moon is something very special too, as to date it is still the largest recorded moon in relation to the planet it orbits. The Moon, like Jupiter, hooks us the fuck up with the proper conditions for life. Speaking of which:

Within about 1 billion years in to Earth's history life started popping up in the form of self replicating molecules. Then came photosynthesis that when combined with the large amounts of oxygen in the atmosphere and water on the surface gave way to even more complex organisms called Eukaryotes. These collections of cells were formed in to colonies and grew more complex over time, specializing in certain things to aid the colonies that had formed (like processing waste etc.). The Ozone layer (made of molecular oxygen O3) shielded the surface from harmful radiation opening up the planet to more and more complex life-forms.

Geologically things were changing around too. The water in the atmosphere started cooling as the surface/core temperature of the Earth did. When that happened the oceans became more habitable to larger colonies of cyanobacteria and other multi-cellular organisms. There were also glaciers. Big fucking glaciers. And glaciers were doing the same thing they do today, chugging around the planet leveling whatever is underneath them. Though at one point (about 650 million years ago) nearly the entire surface was frozen. At least that's been the most subscribed to logic since the 70's, it's a theory called Snowball Earth appropriately enough. When you think about it in non-scientific terms and more in the terms of standard logic it seems crazy that life was able to continue on through this Black Metal fan's DREAM Earth.

"Yes! Pre-Cambrian era fucking rules!"
Not only did life survive, something rather incredible happened after this Snowball Earth scenario. The Cambrian explosion. This is when the groundwork for what WE see as living creatures began, almost all of the phyla are represented. Things with skeletons started showing up (whether exo, on the outside. or endo, on the inside), sense organs started showing up too. This is where the real deal life shit began, things that could DO not just BE.

The Cambrian period led way to the Earth getting bigger and more complex forms of life at a crazy fast rate. Soon the little arthropods and other creepy crawlies were out of the picture and BIG shit like Dinosaurs started taking over the planet. Things were crawling around all over the place and flying through the skies.

And making shitty tv shows.
That was about 300 million years ago. Big ass animals running the planet, giant flora everywhere. It sounds pretty rad actually, like a really fucking vicious Hawaii. Dinosaurs ruled the planet until about 65 million years ago when the impact of a rather large asteroid killed all but a few of the dinosaurs off completely (only a few flying varieties made it). The impact was so fucking HUGE that you can still clearly see the crater today, you don't even have to look that hard.

Gulf of Mexico dummy!
With the dinosaurs handily dispatched and conveniently out of the way, mammals were able to climb their tiny asses out of the ashes and start the fucking! Once mammals started getting busy with each other all over the now dinosaur free surface of the planet something totally beautiful happened.

"Trust me Bill. There is nothing beautiful about this, I'm as dirty as a mammal can be"
Mammals started taking over the planet! Well us and insects, but I fucking hate bugs, so you can find some entomologist's blog to look at if you're that interested.

Little furry things started becoming bigger furry things! We went from gerbils to monkeys and apes. There was one of these early ape-guys that was really special to OUR story, he was Orrorin. He was the first bi-pedal Hominin, a very early ancestor to us he lived about 6 million years ago. There isn't much known about these guys at the moment, the best fossils on record were only found in 2000 and are still being researched. So far though it looks like they might be the earliest recorded upright walkers, so that is fucking something! Right?

After Orrorins were stumbling around awkwardly other hominins started communicating with each other and using tools. These two things started to stimulate our brains to do something other than constantly tell us "Eat, eat, eat." and "Don't die. Don't die. Don't die.". We started THINKING which, in turn, brought us together so we could tell each other "Eat, eat, eat." and "Don't die. Don't die. Don't die.". Little pockets of ape-men started banding together and using each others help to accomplish complex tasks, like killing big things and picking berries.

That mental surge pushed us towards using tools to make food grow in the land so we could spend less time chasing it and getting more hungry. Bam, agriculture was born and with agriculture came even more time to think. When our pre-historic ancestors started to become farmers of a sort they also become curious of the world around them. They had weapons to protect them, food to feed them and nice places to rest. So they started wondering, "What's the big fucking yellow thing up above me? Why is it so hot?" (you already know the answer to that, just look about 2/3 up the page). They also started filling in the blanks when they could, so logic and introspection became hallmarks of our intelligence.

We continued evolving along those lines until sometime around 250-200 thousand years ago a bigger (for the time) collection of Humans left the shores of south Africa and started a world tour that puts all the 80's metal bands to shame.

Aww fuck! Not this guy again.
There are different theories as to the proliferation of Humans, but the rest of them seem too far-fetched to me so this is the one you're getting. This little band of humanity worked it's way up from south Africa and started spreading out to the corners of the Earth via India, Tibet, China and the Middle East. Different geographic conditions causing different evolutionary traits in the descendents of these initial travelers. We're talking about 200-600 people being the direct ancestors of EVERYONE on the planet. Think on that, really fucking absorb that (notice I ask you to do this all the time, think on it that is, so you should!). Doesn't that idea make racism and xenophobia seem so fucking STUPID? I mean, I wish we had a time-machine just so we could take all the White-Supremacists, Palestinians, Israelis and Mel Gibson back to that colony, just to show them how fucking IDIOTIC it is to think the way they do in the face of the fact that we are truly a global family. Whew, ok, got that out.

Anyway, where was I? Oh yeah, Humanity.

So these few hundred people moved around the globe creating new pockets of civilization everywhere they went. These groups grew larger and larger until complex societies started to form. In Sumeria they started writing and they started law in the same breath. Spirituality and religion started to pop up in a more organized fashion, leading to more and more time dedicated to exploring the reaches of the mind. War on a scale larger than the planet had ever seen began, divisions in the land as well.

Great monuments were erected (tee hee) and people began to look towards tribal kings and warlords for direction. This is a chain that pretty much remains unbroken to this day in one shape or another.

"You bet your ass it does!"
Civilization became a reality and with the advent of the written word it also was given a history. From that point forward it became possible for Humans to not only live through something or imagine something but to also preserve it on paper for future Humans to learn from or enjoy.

Or to write stupid blogs. FUCK I hate that word!

Once writing caught on, there was a way to write instructions for things as well. That lead to engineering and culture! What a fucking gas! So we started building things, bigger and more extravagant things. We started writing down recipes and religious tomes. It was an all out information blitz!

All of the engineering turned in to so much work that we needed a way to make it faster and easier to do on a large scale. We needed machines that could do the work of many men and not get pissed off about it. So we set off to build industrial stuff!

Assembly lines made it easy to make really complex things using really stupid people. So you could break a machine down in to tiny parts and have a bunch of people responsible for their tiny little cog. That way there was a very limited amount of shit for the peon to fuck up! Brilliant!

Industrialization became the norm on the planet and since then we have wanted more, more, more! The industrial revolution made it possible for people to have way more shit than our ancient ancestors coming out of south Africa could have ever imagined. Buildings got bigger and crazier, we started making huge bridges across big waterways and boats to cross the ones we couldn't bridge. The automobile came about and so did airplanes. The Earth, as big as it was for the cyanobacteria was getting much smaller for us.

"Hey! I'm right over here!"
Industry gave us even more time to ponder things and invent. Technology soon became a staple of every home, from radios to television and on to computers. Computing helped to usher in an Information Age that saw the growth of Human understanding expand as we let computers do the hard thinking for us, freeing us up to theorize and be abstract (which one of our early south African ancestors must have specialized in).

We started using computers to help us think better and ended up putting men on the moon and making communications across the globe easier than ever. We used computers to help us decode the human genome and verify many long held scientific theories. Machines began to become a part of our society, as important in some respects as writing itself and culture.

But computers also made us lazier and we all started getting really careless about everything. In the last 40 or so years we have done quite a number on the Earth, choking up her atmosphere with shitty chemicals and pissing the leftover chemicals right in to the very oceans that gave us life in the first place. We dug up all the dinosaur bones and burned them up in our cars. We basically just started fucking up and not caring about the consequences.

Now we live in an age that is dominated by convenience and timidness. We stopped exploring, no more walking around the Earth. We push our minds to greater heights and then ignore the findings. We spend billions and billions on weapons and complain when we spend a few million to explore our celestial neighbors or our distant past. Our existence is based a lot on being in the right place at the right time, so precious and so rare, yet we throw it the fuck away in order to be in the most convenient position we can be. Lethargy rules Humanity and until we're ready to take a cue from our ancient ancestors we might end up more akin to the dinosaurs than we'd like to think.

So what does it all add up to? Billions upon billions of years, hundreds of millions of evolutionary gambles, societies built from the tribes of our ancestors. What you ask? This:

And this:

And this:

FUUUUUCCCCKKKK!!!!! Is it too late to become a Creationist? That's a lot easier to explain and I think it would make writing these articles a little less soul-crushing. Come on asteroid!!