How It All Began – Nobel Prize Tribute

With the discovery of the Higgs’ Boson and the awarding of the Nobel Prize in Physics to Francois Englert and Peter Higgs, it is now possible to complete my “Theory of Everything,” entitled “How It All Began.” It may be sung to “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing,” but it’s not necessary.

Bang! It went, and off we go
Fourteen billion years ago
First the fireball, hot and dense,
The energy within, immense.
Then the Higgs Field yielded matter,
Particles began to scatter,
And were promptly blown to bits
When they met their opposites.
This is most of what we know
Of fourteen billion years ago.

Though it’s harder to create
When particles annihilate,
They released such energy
That all four forces were set free.
Then the heat and radiation
Pumped up history’s first inflation
And, as our new cosmos grew,
Standard matter made it through.
That’s what our equations show
Microseconds from the go.

Matter started filling space
When particles flew every place.
Most of them were just debris
So atoms formed from only three.
Nuclei were made of protons
Often clumped along with neutrons,
And electrons tightly bound
In discrete shells buzzed around.
Atoms popped out of the glow
Of the Big Bang long ago.

After years when things had cooled
The universe had been retooled.
Hydrogen and helium
Were building blocks for things to come.
Then the force of gravitation
Led to even more creation.
Fusion made the first stars shine
And more baryons combine.
That’s what our equations show
Of thirteen billion years ago.

Generations came and went,
For when their hydrogen was spent
Little stars collapsed and died.
Bigger ones were glorified.
With a flash these stars were shattered
And new elements were scattered;
Then these clouds of starry dust
Fused again with cosmic lust.
That’s what Hubble’s pictures show
About ten billion years ago.

Planets formed from dust and gas,
Sized according to their mass.
They accrete by gravity.
(Accrete means forming gradually.)
Back when Earth was somewhat hotter
Life could start in pools of water.
RNA could replicate
Then took protein for a mate.
That’s what modern studies show
About four billion years ago.

Then we think that RNA
Through its mutant, DNA,
Rearranged to code for genes
And translate them to proteins.
Most genes spelled out protein enzymes
That replaced old ribozymes
Those producing lipids well
Found themselves inside a cell.
That’s what micro fossils show
From three billion years ago.

Living things were first marine.
Early cells were bluish-green.
Microbes formed stromatolites
Spreading out on seashore sites.
Then somewhere some more mutation
Followed by more incubation
Made some creatures exoshelled
Leaving fossils where they dwelled.
This is what the data show
Six hundred million years ago.

Simple creatures in the sea
Increased in their diversity.
Sponges, plants, and fish evolved.
Soon the shore was reinvolved.
Amphibians crawled from the water,
Ate each other, what a slaughter!
Big ones were selected for
And produced the dinosaur.
That’s what tons of fossils show
Two hundred million years ago.

Then there came an asteroid
Bang! Some life forms were destroyed.
Smoke and dust flew through the sky
So all the plants began to die.
This disastrous complication
Caused the dinosaurs’ starvation.
Furry animals survived.
It’s from these that we’re derived.
That’s what still more fossils show
Some sixty million years ago.

Selection then could recommence.
The record’s clear, unless you’re dense.
In Africa, the apes diverged.
Australopithecines emerged.
Lucy got stuck in the mire.
Homo Habilis made fire.
(Now we have each skeleton
On display in Washington.)
That’s what lots of fossils show
From three million years ago.

In another million years
H. erectus then appears,
Crude tool-makers, bigger brains
And coming inside when it rains.
Genes mutating, changing species,
Folks migrating, spreading feces,
Showing where they came and went,
What they ate, how time was spent.
They were always on the go
About a million years ago.

That’s all nice, but that’s not all
Next appeared Neanderthal.
His descendents are at play
Throughout the NFL today.
Then Cro Magnon made his entrance;
Others faded from existence.
Bronze age man began to write,
So you can read the rest tonight.
This is how it all began
From the Big Bang, up to man.

© 2009-2013 Stephen Baird