Our planet, Earth, is an oasis not only in space, but in time.
It may feel permanent, but the entire planet is a fleeting thing in the lifespan of the universe. For nearly two-thirds of the time since the universe began, Earth did not even exist. Nor will it last forever in its current state. Several billion years from now, the Sun will expand, swallowing Mercury and Venus, and filling Earth’s sky. It might even expand large enough to swallow Earth itself. It’s difficult to be certain. After all, humans have only just begun deciphering the cosmos. While the distant future is difficult to accurately predict, the distant past is slightly less so. By studying the radioactive decay of isotopes on Earth and in asteroids, scientists have learned that our planet and the solar system formed around 4.6 billion years ago.
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