The amazing Timeline of the Universe in the Cosmology Gallery tells the story of the creation of our Universe – from the Big Bang right through to the present. It shows all the different stages of development and evolution of our planet Earth. There are some amazing stories on the Timeline, as well as real fossils to look at. The Timeline asks us to consider some very big questions regarding us and the Universe we live in, such as “Are we really made of Stardust?”.

Our Education Manager, has been following a little Helium Atom called Harry from the Big Bang on his journey through the new born Universe.  Read the opening chapters below.

Harry The Atom

Hello my name is Harry.  I am an Helium atom.  Helium is a gas, so yes, I am a gas.

– I am very, very old.  My life began about 13.7 billion years ago.  That’s a long time!  Long before any dinosaurs.  Long before the Earth, or the sun even existed!!

The Big Bang

– I can remember the time that I was born because it was just after a huge explosion of space.  You guys call it “Ze Big Bang”, I think.  That explosion was so powerful and the heat was so tremendous, reaching over a trillion degrees!  (It was so quick for me to boil a cup of coffee.)  There was a thick fog and everything was expanding so quickly around me.  My first days of life were after the fog cooled slightly and I, Harry the Helium atom, was born.  So I was one of the first ‘things’ to ever exist.  Now that’s cool!

The Radiation Era

– For the first part of my life I kept my eyes shut most of the time.  It was too bright to see.  The universe was a hot blue fog, so bright, and still over 100 000 degrees.  This was what you guys call the Radiation Era.  It was like this for about 380 000 years.  Then the hot blue fog began to lift and the air became transparent-  clear like it is now.  I could see!

For the next million years I flew through space as the Universe expanded, becoming larger and larger. I watched the sky slowly turn from blue to orange to red to black as space cooled. And then, for the next million years after that, there was nothing.  Only black space. No stars, no planets, no galaxies. Nothing but black space, and me, Harry the Helium atom, floating through it.

For the next 200 million years the black space remained.  I call this time ‘The Dark Ages’.  Dark matter and dark energy surrounded me.  Gradually, however, this dark matter and the other gases and I began to clump together in groups.  These clusters of matter began to develop a gravity and pulled other gases and matter in towards us.  I could feel the anticipation of something exciting about to happen….