Our ancestors observed the world around them to understand the basics of the universe in which they lived. Humans have made discoveries and recorded them for future generations to use for further discoveries. By the way, anyone who makes and records observations is called a scientist.
Although the universe is vast and full of diversity, most of it works according to a few basic rules. Scientists are always looking to discover the basics that explain everything else. Since everything in the universe is made up energy, that’s a good place to start. Energy is king and it’s the cause of every natural occurrence in our universe.
At the beginning of the universe there was only energy. When energy condenses, it gains specific attributes that interact with other bits of energy with different attributes. Our observational skills have allowed us to come up with the Four Fundamental Forces to explain these interactions.
Some condensations of energy are so small that they travel at the fastest possible speed in the universe. You know this as the “speed of light” and photons are always moving at the same maximum speed. Other condensations of energy cluster together to form more dense particles with a greater overall energy.
The more dense particles, called “atoms” or “molecules,” are in constant motion. Scientists measure the overall speed of particles with temperature. Phase changes are merely a result of attractive forces that take over when the movement slows.
Scientists use the temperature of particles, as well as a few other measurements, to create the Gas Laws to explain the behavior of unattached particles. One of the most fundamental behaviors of unattached particles is to diffuse away from highly concentrated areas.
You might be thinking, “How can atoms and molecules exist when everything tends to diffuse away from each other?” Energy is stored in particles and bonds. Bonds form between atoms as a means of stabilizing the overall molecule. Electrons, another condensation of energy, will transfer between atoms, settling in the most stable conformation. Scientists observe electron exchanges and have recorded their many discoveries, creating the science of chemistry.
Although energy rules the universe, there are a few weird molecules that seem to play by their own rules. The weirdest molecule that you interact with all the time is water. The structure of water causes odd behaviors that scientists have observed and labeled pH and polarity.
On our planet, water and a few carbon-based compounds called organic molecules allowed for the beginning of life. Some organic molecules made up the structures of the earliest living things while other molecules, called enzymes, helped to encourage reactions.
Genetic activities allowed living organisms to reproduce, encoding the exact structure of its organic molecules in the process. Over time, more complex processes like photosynthesis and respiration developed to aid in the survival of the organism.
It’s easy to get lost in the vastness and complexity of the universe. When you observe the universe through the right perspective, everything feels close and simple. Our species has already used our understanding of the universe to vastly change our world, how will you use this knowledge?