Crash Course Astronomy: The Big Bang

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Dec 11, 2015
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Math, science, history, unraveling the mystery,
That all started with the big bang ( bang)!
                                — Barenaked Ladies

Before saying anything else, can we all please take a moment and savor the fact that Episode 42 of Crash Course Astronomy is all about how the Universe and everything got started?


So, yes, it’s time we rewind the clocks—all the way back, 13.82 billion years, and see how all this ridiculous amazingness surrounding us got started.

It’s fun to think about all this, and not just because of the details and all the wonderful math and science. It’s fun to me because we can think about it. For millennia all we could do was look up and wonder, making up just-so stories to explain how we got here.

But now we can do so much more. We use our telescopes, our cameras, our particle colliders; we observe the skies in a systematic way and analyze it using the fiercely complex (and sometimes much simpler) math we’ve painstakingly developed over the centuries, the physics we’ve teased out from the behavior of the Universe itself.

When I hear people dismissing science, downplaying it, that stuns me. Look at what we’ve done with it! We have peered out into the cosmos, and understood it for the first time. By dropping balls, poking at wires, pouring one chemical into another, compressing gases, playing with prisms—and then thinking about the results carefully and honestly—we know why there are galaxies. We know how stars shine. We know there are other planets in the sky in a bewildering variety.

We know how the Universe got its start.

That’s what science has done for us. It’s been a long journey to get here, and much lies ahead, but we are guided on that path by science and propelled by our wonder. It’s the best story I know.

Want more? All the Crash Course Astronomy episodes are in one playlist. Learn about the Universe!