What a Weird World

Deep in space, a fire burns.

It is not an ordinary fire. It is the heat of uncountable gazillions of tiny pairs of protons and electrons being squished together at incredible temperatures, releasing scads of energy. The energy is transmitted outward, through clouds of zillions of other pairs, until finally it reaches the surface of this giant ball of fusing protons. Off it goes, zipping through space at ludicrous speed, until some of it — a tiny portion of it — is stopped.

This particular portion happens to have collided with a collection of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen atoms arranged in such a fashion that its energy contributes to a complex chemical reaction, helping to link twenty-four globs of proton, neutron and electron together into a giant chunk of atomic soup. This chunk is passed around in a veritable sea of watery goop, until finally it is broken apart again and used for fuel.

That atomic soup was partially composed of water, another oddity. This particular water was part of a huge collection of water much like it, interspersed with various salt molecules, which simply sits, unsure of what to do with its life, on a giant bed of sand and rock. For fun, it slow-dances to the rhythm of the coming and going of another chunk of rock a quarter of a million miles above it, shifting around on its bed slowly, like it’s about to pass out.

But back to that atomic soup. Eventually the structure housing it is ripped from its comfortable bed of ground-up rocks and organic matter, mashed into small bits, and then doused in a bath of acids which gradually separate some of those balls of protons and electrons. From there it moves on to a long fluid-filled tube where some of those chunks are absorbed through the walls, into a stream of watery, reddish fluid with iron in it.

That fluid, being pushed in its containing tube by a pump made of soft organic matter that pulses in a particular rhythm, gradually works its way up. Reaching its destination, our chunks are ingested by tiny wriggling balls of chemicals which use them as building materials and energy sources for further wriggling and squirming.

Let’s not forget where this is all happening: on a giant ball of rock, soft on the inside and crunchy on the outside, bathed in water and hurtling through space at a speed generally considered unsafe for travel. It’s circling around the aforementioned giant fireball, which circles around a chunk of stuff so huge other stuff can’t help but fall right in.

And this chunk of rock, this fireball, this other huge chunk, are all but one of billions and billions of their kind floating around the universe.

Whatever your religious affiliation, or lack thereof, I hope this post has made you think of just how fantastically insanely weird and complex our universe really is. Maybe God did it, maybe it’s a consequence of our complex rules of physics and the patterns that spring from them; regardless, this is one hell of a crazy place to live in. So stop acting so unsurprised at everything.

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