Big Bang, Small Seconds

Adler Planetarium

Most of us have an awareness of the basic concept of the Big Bang Theory from a very young age. I am not referring to the CBS show, but I suppose children learn about that fairly young nowadays as well.

Anyway, although I’ve always had a basic understanding of what the Big Bang Theory entails, I didn’t realize how nuanced the associated timeline is until recently.

Last weekend, I was had the pleasure of visiting the Adler Planetarium in Chicago and went to its exhibit called “The Universe: A Walk Through Space and Time.” I was shocked to see that scientists have an understanding of what happened in the moments following the Big Bang, pinned down to minuscule fractions of a second.

This chart from the University of Northern Iowa explains these events very well. Some interesting ones to consider are the birth of gravity at 10^-35 seconds after the Big Bang and full proton and neutron formation at 10^-7 seconds after the Big Bang. It is absolutely incredible to me that scientists are able to understand these events with such chronological specificity!

2 thoughts on “Big Bang, Small Seconds

  1. Oh my gosh, this post made me so excited. I absolutely LOVE the planetarium. I’m from Chicago, and I can’t tell you the amount of times I’ve been there. It is so beautiful both inside and out (the backdrop of the lake is amazing, especially in the summer). Also, in regards to science, I completely agree. It’s so interesting how integral aspects of the entire universe were created in less than a fraction of a second, and I love the way the planetarium explains it. The Museum of Natural History in New York has a similar thing, and if you ever get the chance and have not been, I highly recommend it!


  2. Cosmology isn’t my field of physics, but I really hope anyone who works in this area takes a moment every once in a while to really think about how incredible it is to know (or at least make very, very educated guesses) about what was happening billions of years ago over such minuscule timescales. For me, all the neat visualizations people usually use of what it looks like to form protons, or any of the other unfathomable events during those first fractions of a second, just bring home how far the things we’re studying are beyond what we can actually grasp with our senses.



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