Imagine having a front row seat during the formation of the universe. If you were there, you would have witnessed an infinite sea of hydrogen and helium atoms, and nothing else. No other elements were in existence. No planets, stars, or any other particles that we would recognize today.

These atoms existed in a field of near perfection, a 3 dimensional grid where each particle was equally spaced from those around it. Much like magnets in this formation, their attraction and repulsion held them in an eternal gridlock. Equal particles, equal spacing, equal attraction and repulsion. It was perfect.

But that’s not quite how it happened. Some out of these infinite number of particles were not perfectly spaced. They were off by a fraction of a nanometer. Because of this imbalance, two particles drew closer to each other and had twice the force, others around began to attract, and those on the outskirts repeled away into their own clusters. This set off a chain reaction that changed the universe forever.

No more perfect balance. These hydrogen and helium atoms began to attract into larger and larger clusters. Soon there were huge blue bodies thousands of times bigger than our sun. As a result of the incredible gravity pulling these particles towards the center, they became extremely hot. These are the first stars.

As they became hotter and more dense, fusion converts the hydrogen and helium into other elements. Eventually, the star became too tightly compacted and burst into a supernova. The incredible heat of the supernova produces most of the heavy elements that make up our modern universe. Carbon, iron, even gold. The iron in your blood is the result of an exploding star billions of years ago.

Had this universe been one of total perfection, the hydrogen would still be resting in a perfect grid, a never ending stalemate. Luckily, imperfection is what makes the world go ’round, quite literally.

The next time you find yourself being less-than-perfect, remember that if it weren’t for imperfection, you wouldn’t be here at all.

Image Credit: NASA

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