A flash of light

I recently watched this video on YouTube, which is a brief (ten minute) history of the universe, narrated by Neil deGrasse Tyson. It is an interesting video, and Dr. Tyson is always nice to listen to, but one part stood out to me and got me thinking.

I’d heard it said several times before, that in the early universe everything was made of matter and anti-matter pairs that annihilated each other, giving off heat and light. And the only reason that there is any matter at all is because of an imbalance–that there was slightly more ‘normal’ matter, the kind we are familiar with–than there was anti-matter. But I never realized how small that difference was.

One extra particle of normal matter per billion, gives us our entire universe. This is such a slight difference, the tiniest imbalance, without which our entire universe would contain nothing but light. It got me thinking… what if this imbalance was a mistake?

Perhaps our universe was meant to be nothing but photons, a burst of energy to provide some incomprehensible being a flash of light as they flip a switch. Perhaps that one part per billion imbalance is a fault in the design, and all the galaxies and black holes and nebulae we know are byproducts of that inefficiency. Maybe the universe was meant to be an expanding, bursting, ball of light, and now it’s got all this extra …stuff floating around in it.

The universe makes a certain kind of sense intended as a clean, efficient flash of light. If we look at matter as an error in calculation, a grinding of gears, a malfunction– then all the chaos and confusion we observe seems natural.

If only we could observe the beginnings of other universes for comparison… maybe some day!


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