According to scientists, 4-8 billion years ago levels of a mysterious form of energy began to rise from near-negligible quantities (<1%) to eventually comprise 68% of the universe. Termed “Dark Energy”, it is thought to have strong negative pressure and, hence, be responsible for the accelerating expansion of the universe (which, until that time, had been contracting.) Not much is known about dark energy, but that’s alright. Thanks to this lack of knowledge, we are free, for the time being, to make all manner of wild conjectures. And who doesn’t love themselves some wild conjecture? Case in point:
When I first laid eyes on the infographic above, my first thought was: 4 bya? That’s about how old life is! What if life is the source of dark energy? According to scientists, dark energy didn’t exist much at all before the recent expansion (could be it didn’t exist at all.) So the sudden rise in dark energy had to have some cause. What else happened around that time? Life. Coincidence? Yeah, probably. But this is conjecture, folks. No reason for reason to cloud our fun. Plus, any discrepancy in the timing (that might make these two events not co-incidental) can be accounted for through this simple postulation: 1) life must exist elsewhere in the universe, and 2) that life is older than life on Earth.
But what, apart from chronology, makes this theory possible? For one, religions and philosophers have long argued about the spark of life, of souls and being. There must be something there, inside of us, to inspire such thoughts. And not merely molecules of adenosine triphosphate floating around in our aqueous cells. What if life is some sort of unique energy generator, spread out all across the universe, venting dark energy into the vastness of the cosmos? As the great Sagan once said: “The nitrogen in our DNA, the calcium in our teeth, the iron in our blood, the carbon in our apple pies were made in the interiors of collapsing stars. We are made of starstuff.” Maybe we’re more than just starstuff. Maybe we’re some sort of dark stars: not very massive, emitting an energy far outside the visual spectrum, a counter-balance to the massive and brilliant stars we orbit.
If that were the case, the energy we produced would necessarily cause expansion, as life is undeniably an expansionary phenomenon. Organisms grow, populations spread, and life ever presses out against the envelope of space around it. Consider: when you step outside on a beautiful day, does the world press down and in on you, or do you feel yourself expanding out into the day? How about when joyously spending time with your closest friends? I for one feel my being expand outwards. These are examples of our generators operating at full capacity, pumping out dark energy like a smokestack. Conversely, there are times, if we’re down and our generator is operating at low capacity, when gravity and other cosmological forces exert their contractionary influence. Times like that, we moan, “The world’s weighing me down, man.” Still, expansion is the norm. And the expansion of the universe is accelerating as life flourishes and diversifies on each planet, and appears on new planets for yet more flourishing.
Yeah, nothing wrong with any of that. <cough cough>