08 September, 2014

Following Supernovae

What happens next?

A completely non-living example of an Emergence Phoenix is, of course, the final “death” of a star in a Supernova Explosion! After a whole consequent series of collapses and “rebirths”, as available fusible elements are necessarily created and then successively used up in different fusion reactions, the last and seemingly final step in this sequence was that which produced Iron (Fe) in that sort of fusion of nuclei, characteristic of the smaller elements. But, that “”final collapse” was different!

It was not the end of the story, for though there were no possible ongoing fusion reactions left, to counteract gravity’s inwards pulling, the star inevitably kept on collapsing down to an unheard of tiny size, which caused not an ongoing state, but an Event – a cataclysmic triggering of the simultaneous fusion of not only everything available, but also their products in one almighty Bang of multiple simultaneous fusion reactions. And, out of that (cosmically) “point source”, the most colossal explosion occurred, outshining whole galaxies of normal stars! Indeed, all the elements, from above Iron, all the way to Uranium were produced in this cataclysm!

Now, it is clear that without such supernovae there could be none of these elements! And, therefore the favourite humanising parable by astronomers concerns this fact – that Life itself, and, of course, ultimately Mankind too, could never have happened without such a final catastrophe. “We are all made of star stuff!”, is their mantra!

So, once again, though on such a colossal, and much slower scale, the cataclysm of the collapse and its following explosion finally (and retrospectively predictably) produced wholly new elements, which were not predictable directly in the usual way. They were not only new as such, but also displayed many wholly new properties too, and hence many previously impossible further interactions and developments.

This undoubted Emergence had created a wholly new context, and consequent set of possibilities, which though very, very slow to begin with, ultimately concentrated under gravity - first into clouds, and finally into new stars and planets, but NOW containing this vast array of new elements, which, as Earth has shown, could, and indeed did, lead ultimately to Life.

NOTE: By the way, if that wasn’t enough for you, how do you now consider what the Big Bang is most likely to have been?

This post is taken from Special Issue 28 of the Shape Journal entitled The Phoenix. Read the rest here.

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