When faced with describing a closed cycle, it is often convenient to begin at some uniquely characteristic point to dissect
and then reassemble the cycle during its analysis. In our universe, the cosmological cycle that describes how all matter
aggregates, interacts as it grows to larger and more evolved complex forms and finally is reborn postpones or begs the question
of where the components originated. But this seems to be a useful point of entrance into our foray on one of the major cycles
occurring at cosmological scales. What should be kept in mind during this retelling of the beginningless and endless history
of the universe is that if there was never a single Big Bang then everything we see and experience has always been around,
ever cycling from one form to another to another.
We begin our journey as we encounter massive clouds of hydrogen atoms and diatomic hydrogen gas. Floating in thin masses
many light years across, we find a restful place from which to observe them. Our eyes and instruments can see the individual
atoms and molecules in this cloud and as they float or zip through space, the particles infrequently collide with each other,
usually ricocheting off into a different direction. Some collisions are nearly perfectly elastic with no energy loss while
others lose some energy due to various internal energy-absorbing processes the collisions induce. This kind of atomic/molecular
friction causes the slower moving particles to lose enough velocity to be more susceptible to gravitational and other physical
forces that are also present.
For the relatively slowest moving particles their individual spherical unidirectional gravitational field of attraction exerts
its long acting, long range action between each of them, drawing them slowly towards some common center of gravity. As they
begin to collect nearer to this point, shorter range forces such as van der Waals-London forces come into play allowing a
loose, weak bonding force to begin to occur between them holding them together with a greater affinity. This now represents
the first of a sequence of phase changes that will occur. More and more collect, adding a growing gravitational compression
to develop on the initial aggregate.
Fast-forward eons later to the much larger ensemble of mainly molecular hydrogen collected now into a spheroidal shaped mass,
that energetically-speaking represents the ground state configuration of such mass-containing particles. Overall the mass
is much larger than the planet Jupiter but not quite yet the size of Sol. In this high temperature, high pressure domain,
increasingly extreme gravitational pressure continues to restrict the molecular hydrogen leading to sequentially reduced packing
arrangements. During these volumetric reductions the molecular hydrogen discontinuously passes through a series of phase
changes due to the high compression and physical forces that each particle exerts on its nearest neighbors.
In its central interior, the molecular forces holding diatomic hydrogen molecules in pairs are overcome by the high kinetic
energy and impacts of other molecules that knock the atoms of hydrogen out of their molecular bonding arrangements. We have
reached the temperature and pressure of dissociation of molecular hydrogen into atomic hydrogen. This domain, now populated
by atomic hydrogen rather than molecular hydrogen, further continues to go from one geometric packing arrangement to even
more compressed packing arrangements and finally through solid, crystalline phase transitions until penultimately it arrives
at the point where the individual hydrogen atoms in the central core have no wiggle room in which to move around.
Even more gas aggregates at the surface subsequently increasing the gravitational pressure. The interior core pressure now
at last exceeds the intra-atomic repulsive forces that act to hold moving electrons within their atomic orbitals. As this
critical point is exceeded, the electron orbitals must collapse and the individual electrons and protons must now seek a new
packing geometry to accommodate this ultrahigh confinement pressure.
When atoms implode, there is a sudden and extreme collapse into a much smaller volume into which they are squeezed. A hydrogen
atom occupies a volume of space almost 2000 times greater than the volume occupied by a bare proton. This also must result
in a sudden increase in the kinetic energy of the electrons, much as a ping pong ball speeds up its as a paddle closes it
down onto a table top. This is predicted and described by the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle and the well-known effect
of quantum spatial restriction through reduction of well size that leads to increasing the kinetic energy and decreasing the
de Broglie wavelength of an electron in a well.
(C) Copyrighted 2008 by Joseph H. Guth, Ph.D.