Life Lessons From Outer Space

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Space is the oldest and largest thing to ever exist, this is simple and true, yet profound. People tend to associate space with existentialism and philosophy for its unimaginable size and possibilities. It raises compelling questions. How did existence start from absolutely nothing? Where are the limits of humanity? The universe provokes thought and questions, and enables us to view life with a fresh lens of wisdom.

There is something “soul-gaze-y” about staring at the depths of the star-spangled sky, into the heart of the cosmos, (when there is no light pollution).

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But how does our cosmic backyard have any connection to us? In both a factual and philosophical sense, there is oneness between us, little specks in the universe, and the cosmos. Let me explain. As Carl Sagan famously observed, we are, after all, made of starstuff. The atoms in your hair, your teeth, your skin.

How did we get here? Here is an oversimplification, Roughly 13.8 billion years ago, the big bang happened. This disturbance caused the many laws of physics, energy, time, matter, to take shape, and eventually, our earth, grass, people, galaxies. The disturbance caused the then-atom-sized cosmos to inflate to the size of a grapefruit. 10^-32 seconds after the big bang, the universe was a hot, simmering soup of subatomic particles like quarks and electrons, and eventually protons and neutrons. Over time, subatomic particles clumped together-this concoction is now known as hydrogen and helium (recipe for hydrogen/helium:protons+neutrons+electrons, the recipe for helium is the same but double everything). Gravity, which emerged as the universe ripened, clumped hydrogen and helium into clusters to form cloudy and vague galaxies, which coalesced into stars. The first stars were element churning-machines, the crushing pressure in the core of the stars caused hydrogen/helium to fuse into heavier elements. Elements are characterized by the amount of protons they possess, thus, if helium (2 protons) fused with hydrogen (1 proton), lithium (3 atoms) is formed. When the stars died, they spewed out the universe’s resource bank of elements up until iron, all over the universe. The calcium in our teeth, the iron in our blood, the nitrogen in our DNA strands could be traced back to the heart of a star.

“Lawrence M Krauss, author of The Physics of Star Trek and A Universe from Nothing: The stars died so you could be here today”

Now, back on earth, the first thing astrophysics teaches us is about the value of a life from a cosmic perspective. As humans, feeling worthless is somewhat of a natural feeling at some point in our lives. But listen close, you are made of starstuff! As the universe ripened, these so-called star-stuff travelled through the heavens, underwent intense thermonuclear fusion,to form you!. Your existence itself is an astronomical phenomenon, you’re no one other than yourself, and that alone is special. On days when you feel like you are hard to love, remember this: you are the universe’s way of experiencing itself.

Another thing we can take away from the history of the big bang and our elemental origins: We are all branches of a common tree. Among humans, discrimination in all its forms has always been common universally. This is a result of our tendency to accentuate differences among social groups. From a cosmic lens, this is shown to be unnecessary. At the end of the day, we are made of the same elemental building blocks.

This teaches us to put aside our differences, regardless of socio-economic background, race, religion, gender, whatever.

Simultaneously, amidst the endless ocean of the universe, we are unimaginably small. We have no say or control in the motions of the heavenly bodies. Regardless of whether you spilled milk on your shirt or if you were slapped with rejection, life still goes on. When my problems eat me up, I eat my problems rather than facing them. However, the universe is still expanding, the earth continues its rounds around the sun in our cosmic backyard, Andromeda is still heading towards a collision course with our galaxy. The astronomical agreements continue their weary course towards the inevitable, unfazed by matters on earth. From this point of view, it just puts the magnitude of your problems into perspective. (Unless your problems are severe). People should learn to pick themselves up and move on. Think about the grand scale of the universe. Is it really that bad if you spilled milk over your shirt? At the end of the day, I have to put aside my stress-eating and finish my homework pile, because it’s not going to do itself.

I would like to end this speech with a call for action: Lookup. You’d see the ceiling and lights, but I mean even further beyond that. In the great beyond lies our origins, our possible future, potential life, the limits of humanity and endless possibilities. Let’s keep turning to the heavens and its wisdom. After all, we are, quite literally, a way for the universe to experience and learn about itself.

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Life Lessons From Outer Space. (2021, Nov 23). Retrieved from

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