The world is not, and was not, composed of matter in the same form as it was ejected from the Big Bang. The world came into being billions and billions of years later. By that point, the maybe mostly-carbon matter had aggregated into stars; if it was carbon, collapsing onto itself with enough gravitational force to break down whatever was there before heating up enough to begin the fusion cycle up again, by fusing hydrogen into helium. Stars are essentially big fusion furnaces, and when they run out of hydrogen, they will collapse and with the higher temperatures available begin fusing helium into even more elements. All gold in the universe is expelled from supernovae, essentially; that's the only event hot enough to fuse elements up into gold. The alchemists would've got an awful shock if they'd actually managed to create the correct conditions for lead->gold transmutation here on Earth, moments before there wasn't an Earth anymore. In any case, amongst all this violence and plasma transitions, there's plenty of room for electrons to have gotten stripped, juggled, and asymetrically reaggregated. Heck, once you have the elements, all our planet needs to create a honking lot of 'em is solar energy, the earth's magnetic field, and maybe the van Allen belts 'cuz they have such a cool name and pop up everywhere else. Then you get lightning. Lightning predates life. Maybe it catalyzed that first carbon-chemistry soup into something viable. In fact, scientists jazzing replicas of the primordial soup with artificial lighting have observed the beginnings of DNA form in their highly instrumented cauldrons.

Anyway, can you give references for the 'it was mostly carbon' theory? I'm curious now. :-)

Disclaimer: I may be talking entirely out of my behind. I'm a liberal arts major.

First, the big bang may or may not be the origin of matter. Supposing it was, and accepting that matter "originated" in our Universe, the original matter certainly was not carbon. The big bang is where theoretically the universe as we understand seems to have started its current existence. "Original" matter existed on the boundary of energy and matter. Particles may have existed simultaneously in both realms. It is theorized that eventually the fundamental forces (as we understand them) arose from the forces that governed the big bang. The weak nuclear force, strong nuclear force, electromagnetic force, and the force of gravity began to apply to these massive (in the strict sense) particles leading to the formation of subatomic structures, including quarks. These subatomic structures in turn, led to the simplest of atomic structures, and so forth until stars, galaxies, and eventually the incredibly complex organic structures we call life came into existence.

Now, as far as the existence of life and its origins, Paul Davies, as well as other theorists and scientists believe that life is an inevitable development in the universe, and that self-organization is an inherent character of this universe, and that there is life everywhere whether or not we think so. Self-organization and the concepts surrounding the idea are at the forefront of modern science, in the fields of physics, biochemistry, cognitive science, modern philosophy, mathematics, and computer science. I believe that the questions being asked today are of great importance: Can existing systems spontaneously evolve into more complex, yet more efficient systems? Are there rules that govern the behavior of systems in order to drive them into higher complexity? What are these rules? Why can we accept the development of incredibly complex interactions and systems for non-living systems, but not accept that life can arise following the same universal rules that created atoms, stars, and thought?

Please keep in mind, I'm sure there are others who could tell you much more.

 

By billions and billions here we actually mean 10-20 billion (most people believe a figure of 12-16).

"The Big Bang"* describes a very hot period of time in the universe. The universe expands and cools in a very nice thermodynamic way. I place the quote marks around the big bang because it is an incomplete theory. From observations (expansion of the universe, the cosmic microwave background) we infer a time of much greater density and higher temperature.

We still don't know why the universe was like this, nor how it came to be like this. The term Big Bang is more a statement of initial conditions than a theory that explains where all the stuff came from. Not to be on a downer, a lot of good work is being done at the moment and within the next few years the theories which try to explain the initial conditions will be tested. These are theories of inflation and flavors of string-theory.

When the universe gets as hot and dense as it was during the big bang the laws of physics we have now don't work. The problem is that we can't describe gravity on very small scales. usually that's ok because on very small scale (think the size of an atom) you usually find small amounts of matter (an atom for example) and gravity is so weak that we don't have to worry about it. Things during the Big Bang were much more dense than they are now. Imagine squeezing the earth into a space the size of an atom, imagine squeezing an entire galaxy into this space, you can bet that gravity is going to become very important. It happens when you get a mass called a Planck Mass into a volume of space which is a (Planck length)3

Before things get that crazy the physics we have now works very well, thank you very much. So much so that we have decided to call it "the standard model" At early times there was so much energy floating about that matter and anti-matter popped into existence, then annihilated each other. This went on for a while but due to a deep asymmetry in nature slightly more matter was created than anti-matter. This eventually condensed out as the universe expanded and cooled. In about 11 minutes after the point at which our physics doesn't work. The technical term for stuff in the universe before the matter froze out is Yelm.

The matter that we were left with was hydrogen with a little deuterium. No carbon in sight. Over (10 billion years of darkness after the freezing out untill the first stars are formed, astronomers refer to this as the "dark ages") time under gravity this hydrogen bunched together in stars.

Stars are pretty neat. No one known in detail how they work. In general they are giant ovens that do exactly what the The Custodian mentioned. They do some other cool stuff to. All of the carbon we have around us was baked in stars. Planets formed from the detritus that is left around a newly forming star. After many generations of star formation, death and rebirth you get a healthy mix of elements floating around the place. Anything heavier than Iron has to be made in a supernova explosion, so while the carbon that makes up most of us can be baked in a regular star gold, silver, plutonium this all has to come from a supernova. This has prompted the idea We are all particles of stardust held together by angels.

A star form from a huge cloud of gas, it is a very complicated process, but many interesting molecules can be formed in the process (a giant cloud of alcohol, larger than the solar system was found last year by astronomer, unfortunately it was too far away be takes advantage of) In recent months some astronomers calculated that in the formation of a star you can form two of the base-pairs for DNA can be made this way. They are working to see if the other base-pairs can be created in a similar fashion.

This does not answer where biological life came from, but it is interesting.


* the term was coined by Fred Hoyle as a derogatory remark, but it stuck.
If you subscribe to the Big Bang Theory, and Superstring Theory, at the first instant of the Big Bang, a 10-dimensional universe was split into six rolled-up less-than-nano-sized dimensions, and the four dimensions that we normally experience. All of the matter in the universe was blended with all of the energy in the universe in a form called quark-gluon plasma.

At 10-43 seconds after the Big Bang, the universe was the size of a proton, in the form of quark-gluon plasma. Only one force existed - quantum gravity. The temperature dropped to 1032°K, and the gravity force separated from the other three forces. The size of the universe was doubling once every 10-35 seconds.

At 10-9 seconds after the Big Bang, the four forces (gravity, electomagnetic, strong, and weak) separated completely (up until this point the weak and electromagnetic forces were still combined). The universe was the size of a bowling ball, and the matter in the universe was in the form of quarks, leptons, and trapped photons. The temperature of the universe had dropped to a balmy 1015°K.

At two minutes after the Big Bang, the universe had become cool enough for protons and neutrons to stabilize into nuclei. This would be the last major development for around 300,000 years.

Fast forward... at 300,000 years after the Big Bang, the first atoms formed. The temperature dropped to a much more reasonable 3000°K, and just as importantly, the universe became transparent, allowing photons to travel freely. But it wasn't until around 100 million years after the Big Bang that heavier elements like carbon formed.

Of course, the kind of people who believe in crap like that are the same people who try to convince you that the world is round, or that diseases are caused by microscopic organisms called "germs". Sheesh.


 
The Custodian - The process exists for transforming lead into gold without destroying the Earth. The amount of energy it requires, though, makes the resultant product less than worth the effort. Although that doesn't stop scientists from wasting time doing it...

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