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By Leonid E. Grinin, Robert L. Carneiro, Аndrey V. Korotayev, Fred Spier (Editors)

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Extra info for Evolution: Cosmic, Biological, and Social

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Since these circumstances last only a very short time, heavy chemical elements such as gold and uranium are rare. Over the course of 40 How Big History Works time, these so-called nova and supernova events began seeding the surrounding space with these new forms of complexity. In other words, they enriched nature's construction kit with an increasingly large assortment of building blocks. As a result, more complex toys could be built. These chemical elements were sometimes dispersed to areas where the circumstances were favorable for the rise of further complexity.

Organelles such as mitochondria specialize in energy metabolism, while chloroplasts devote themselves to capturing sunlight and converting it into energy. Because eukaryotic cells became more versatile as a result of this intra-cellular division of labour, they became the building blocks for all greater biological complexity. Yet many organisms remained small and comparatively simple. These are micro-organisms we know today. As a result, the tree of life differentiated into increasing numbers and shapes.

Yet according to the standard cosmological view, most of these subatomic and atomic particles that were originally formed soon annihilated one another and were reconverted into radiation. Only a tiny fraction of ordinary matter survived. This left-over stuff constituted the building blocks for all the known material complexity that followed. This period was followed by the nucleosynthesis of some lighter elements, most notably helium and deuterium as well as a few heavier elements. Yet the expansion went so fast that most matter remained in the form of protons, which are the nuclei of hydrogen.

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