The Story of Life & the Environment
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The Story of Life & the Environment  an African perspective
The Story of Life and the Environment
A distant galaxy photographed from the Hubble telescope.
A group of women fishing with baskets in the Okavango River, Botswana
A hawksbill turtle swimming over a coral reef off Zanzibar, Tanzania
Californian coast redwoods, the largest trees on Earth

Life on Earth

Until the early 20th century, it was generally accepted that the universe was 'steady state' - that, whereas heavenly bodies may come and go, the large-scale structure was constant. But, as the century progressed, scientific study and analysis began to suggest that the universe has a finite age. With the use of better observational tools and thanks to the investigative skills of scientists of the day, it became apparent that the galaxies were speeding away from Earth; the further away they were, the faster they were travelling. It was therefore possible to calculate the time at which all objects must have started dispersing from a single point, at which an initial explosion must have taken place - now known as the Big Bang theory, and equated with the beginning of time. Out of this cosmic event came everything we are, have, know or dream about.

McNaught's comet visited our solar system in 2006. Comets have elliptic orbits around the Sun, which vaporises their outer layers as they approach it. This photo clearly shows the effect of the solar wind on the tail of the comet    The false plum anemone Pseudactinia flagellifera    The skull of a small marmoset monkey, in which the foramen magnum is situated towards the back
Birth of the universe
The story of life started long before life ever existed: it began when everything in the entire universe came into existence, about 13-14 billion years ago. We believe the universe then was small, perhaps the size of our Sun. It was probably a very hot, dense mass and then, within an instant, the universe exploded and expanded in all directions at tremendous speed, forming massive clouds of gas and dust. This explosion has become known as the Big Bang.



Story of Life