Summary of Our Improbable Universe
Chapter 2: Bang!
The history of the "Big Bang" is traced from the beginning of time up until the formation of atoms 300,000 years later. It is the story of the evolution of energy into matter. Five of the fourteen features of physics that are needed for a life begetting universe are described in greater detail than in Chapter 1. Some of the scientific discoveries that support this picture of creation are elucidated.
The story starts with a vibrating sea of quantum waves in a larger meta-universe. This larger universe must be based on at least nine spatial dimensions and one of time. A particularly violent white cap in that sea concentrated enough energy to initiate the creation of our sub-universe by a process that is known as Inflation. In this process, our three dimensional space ballooned out like an inner tube with a weak spot. Space inflated to an unimaginable degree. The Inflationary Era lasted less than a billionth of a trillionth of a trillionth of a second. During that time the universe doubled in size two hundred times. At the same time it converted vacuum energy into a huge amount of hot particles. The inflationary process is similar to the way a bank account grows by compounding interest.
The latter stages of the Inflationary Era were so hot that energy and matter freely converted into each other. Energy created matter/antimatter particle pairs. Matter and antimatter annihilated each other to make energy. But due to the existence of at least six kinds of quarks and the CP Symmetry Violation a tiny excess of matter was produced. This excess of matter was only one part per billion. For every proton we have today a billion were annihilated by antiprotons. The fluctuations of energy waves in the Inflationary Era formed the lumpiness in the distribution of matter that would initiate the process of gravitational condensation that ultimately led to the formation of stars. Some regions of space had several thousandths of a percent more matter than other regions. This lumpiness was also just right for producing stars when it conspired with the "flatness" of our universe that naturally resulted from the inflationary process.
The Inflationary Era ended when the part of the universe that is currently visible to us had reached the size of a grape fruit. From then on the universe expanded according to theories that are based on Einstein's theory of gravity. As it expanded it cooled. After a thousandth of a second the sub-nuclear particles called quarks started binding together to form protons and neutrons. At the same time the anti-quarks formed anti-protons and anti-neutrons After about a tenth of a second all of the anti-neutrons and anti-protons annihilated most of the neutrons and protons. After another fifteen seconds all of the anti-electrons annihilated almost all of the electrons. At this point the universe contained only a billionth as much matter as it had before and no anti-matter at all. For the next three minutes the neutrons and protons began to stick together to make simple nuclei. None of the nuclei of the complex elements of life were made at this time (i.e. carbon, oxygen, nitrogen etc.).
The condensation of quarks into nucleons and nucleons into nuclei was followed by the condensation of electrons and nuclei into atoms. This occurred several hundred thousand years after the first moment of the Big Bang. At this point the slight lumpiness in the distribution of matter could start to condense vast clouds of primordial gas into huge collections of galaxies called super clusters. This process of gravitational condensation was so slow that it would be hundreds of millions of years before the density of gas would reach the point where stars could form. If the rate of expansion were too high or the lumpiness was to little, star formation would not have occurred at all.
The setting of the stage for the age of stars only took a tiny fraction of a second. By the end of the Inflation Era, the rest was predestined in a general sense. All of the fourteen stepping stones to life were in place. The rest was simply a matter of time. The beauty and drama of life would inevitably follow after stars formed, died, and then formed again from the ashes of there ancestors.