American astronomer and astrophysicist Carl Sagan once said, “Our ancestors worshipped the Sun, and they were not that foolish. It makes sense to revere the Sun and the stars, for we are their children.” The Sun is an entity that was one of the most crucial to be created, but is often pushed into the back our minds as we go about our daily routine. It has become some thing the we just accept is there and is an unchanging constant.
Without the Sun, life on Earth would cease to exist–which included humans– as it is essential for our existence and all life forms that inhabit the Earth. From the birth of our star, the Sun has created our environment and life as well as shaped human culture and societies.
As always, the beginning of stars and most importantly, the Sun, started with the Big Bang. Stars are comprised of matter and energy that burst from the Big Bang. It wasn’t until the temperature reached 20K that galaxies and stars began to form due to gravity.
When the temperature was cool enough, protons, neutrons, and electrons combined together to form elements and most importantly helium and hydrogen which mostly make up the Sun and its core. The rest of the Sun is composed of other elements such as carbon, nitrogen ,and oxygen. It gives of light by fusion meaning the hydrogen in the center is converted into helium thus releasing light and heat. The light and heat created by the Sun were one of the components that helped life develop and form on Planet Earth.
With that light and energy come many celestial phenomenons. One of them being solar flares which are “ large eruptions of electromagnetic radiation from the Sun.” One of those radiations is the ultraviolet rays which affect humans and the environment. The earth has a stratospheric ozone layer that protects humans from the dangers of radiation from the Sun. While having some Sun is good as it gives humans energy and creates vitamin D, it can cause some serious damage such as sunburn and cancer.With the sun beaming on Earth, it gives the Earth energy that causes changes to the weather. The heat produced by the Sun “warms the air masses that compromise large and small weather systems.”. With changes in the weather comes with the change of the seasons. Human were affected by the change of the seasons as it altered their environment around them forcing them to migrate or learn to adapt to the new surroundings. During 1000 BCE and 300 CE, humans who followed the nomadic lifestyle moved from place to place as the seasons changed due to different resources found in different places. Even before humans were ever on Earth, the Sun was already making drastic changes to the Earth, preparing for the beginnings of life and eventually humans.
While the Earth’s atmosphere and terrain was still very toxic and deadly, the mixture of ammonia, hydrogen,and water vapor and electricity from lightning created the perfect circumstances for amino acids to be created. From these amino acids, single celled organisms came into existence. The first single celled organisms ‘breathed’ the chemicals that were in the atmosphere, but later “blue-green algae called cyanobacteria evolved photosynthesis.” From this moment onward life exploded on Earth. Organism began to ‘breath’ oxygen. These organism were able to harness the Sun’s energy and thus changes the dangerous atmosphere full of toxins to one full of oxygen. Without the Sun, oxygen would not have been in the atmosphere as photosynthesis would not have been possible. A few millions of years later, the first human ancestor evolved. The sun provide energy for the plants to grow and thrive which in turn became part of human’s diet. During the Ice Age periods, our early ancestors were grouped together in Africa, but with the Sun’s light and heat, it caused the ice to melt and “triggered a mass migration from Africa.”( The Great Migration 2011) The Sun allowed homosapien to travel to places that they couldn’t before. Because of migration, humans were now able to inhabit different parts of the world, exposing them to different weather, climates and resources. With this expansion, human became more diverse and created communities around the world. Within these communities, the Sun was revered in many different communities. For example, the stonehenge and the pyramids in Mexico and Egypt are structures that ancient civilizations made to worship the Sun. Many civilization like the Egyptians, Mayan,and Greek had some kind of Sun deities.(Ancient Sun Worship 2018) The Sun has influenced societies by becoming part of their religion and affecting their daily lives.
With the coming of civilizations and societies comes the domestication of plants and animals. Farming and agriculture has forever changed the human race and the sun made it possible. One of the most important things that crops and animals need to survive is sunlight. Without it, nothing would grow. The Sun is crucial to agriculture and humans have learned how to best make use of the Sun. Humans created many solar techniques to make the best out of their crops such as crop rotations. Crop rotations change from season to season and helped increase crop yield. Another one of these techniques is to use the Sun is to dry excess crops. By drying excess crops, humans are able to preserve food in case of emergencies and prevent food from going to waste. These are techniques that are still being used today. Even now, many are trying to make food drying more effective by improving solar tunnel dryers. Because of agriculture, human populations were able to grow in size. Civilizations were able to feed and take care of more people because effective agriculture. When earlier civilization built their buildings/houses, they took in mind the Sun which lead to solar architecture.They built their structure facing the south so that the Sun would provide them with heat and light.This also lead to more structured societies which then became cities.From there, a rapid growth of human and their population occurred. Humans found extras sources of energy to power machines. These extra sources of energy are fossil fuels. Fossil fuels have collected the sun’s energy over long periods of time and when they are burned, that energy is released. This new use of energy has lead to many inventions and continues to fuel many to find more ways to improve our fuel consumption. Throughout history, we used coal, natural gas, oil, and nuclear power for energy, but has caused many problems. Many of our natural resources are running out and pollutions has become more serious over the years which has lead many to find a resolve. The solution? Our first source of energy, the Sun. The Sun is a sustainable energy source meaning it is virtually unlimited.Many are transitioning to solar energy. Many today have solar panels on their roofs to power their house. Many scientists and engineers are coming up with ways to convert to using solar energy. There is now solar transportation, solar charging, solar heating, and solar lighting. In the present, humans have been able to revolutionize the way we consume and harvest energy which could improve society and and push humanity forward.
The Sun has been around for 4.603 billion years and through out of all of those years, it has done so much. Starting from the big bang to present, the Sun has provided so much for life, especially humans. It has given us life and provided us with food and resources that we use to this day to continue living. It has molds our cultures and society to what they are now, but it will also destroy us. In 5 billion years the sun will exert the last of its hydrogen and and swell up to become a red giant. But before that happen, life on earth will already be gone by then. The Sun will release a ton of radiation and heat that will eventually wipe out all life on earth.