Existence special: Cosmic mysteries, human questions

It’s lucky you’re here.

13.7 billion years ago, the universe was born in a cosmic fireball. Roughly 10 billion years later, the planet we call Earth gave birth to life, which eventually led to you. The probability of that sequence of events is absolutely minuscule, and yet it still happened.

Take a step back from the unlikeliness of your own personal existence and things get even more mind-boggling. Why does the universe exist at all? Why is it fine-tuned to human life? Why does it seem to be telling us that there are other universes out there, even other yous?

In these articles, we confront these mysteries of existence and others, from the possibility that the universe is a hologram to the near-certainty that you are a zombie.

ORIGINS

UNIVERSE

LIFE

HOLOGRAM

CONSCIOUSNESS

GOLDILOCKS ENIGMA

ZOMBIES

Existence: Am I a zombie?

Three-and-a-half centuries after “I think, therefore I am”, Michael Brooks wonders if he is a computer simulation – or something more sinister

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PLURALITY

EXTINCTION

TECHNOLOGY

SELF

THE END

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APERTURE

Bright lights of our galaxy's downtown

Welcome to the most intriguing location in our galaxy, one that makes our spot appear a quiet backwater by comparison
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EXPLANIMATOR

How did the universe arise from nothing?

Watch our animated explainer to find out how something can emerge from nothing

READ MORE: COSMOLOGY

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Our understanding of the universe’s expansion is really wrong

Last week, the Gaia spacecraft released the best 3D map of our galaxy,...
The way galaxies cluster is a window into the behaviour of the first neutrinos

We see neutrinos from the big bang in the way galaxies cluster

Just after the big bang, waves of neutrinos and other matter raced acr...
The distance to this galaxy is measured by bright pulsing stars

Dark radiation may fix our broken understanding of the universe

We have two ways to measure the accelerating expansion of the universe...
A growing void could be coming for us

The universe may end in a collision with a bubble of nothingness

The most precise calculation of the lifetime of our universe finds tha...
Stephen Hawking in front of a starry background

Hawking’s global warnings divided opinion but the world listened

The physicist was also known for his outspoken views on existential is...
The earliest black holes may have made the early universe look colder than it was

Ancient black holes may have made the first stars look cool

The signature of cold gas around the first stars is far stronger than ...

READ MORE: THE HUMAN BRAIN

A robot looks at a crowd

Replacing your boss with a cruel robot could make you concentrate more

A mean robot watching over you increases your focus on the most import...
Girl using phone

The truth about the suspected link between social media and self-harm

Is social media really to blame for rises in self-harming? The evidenc...
Children in a playground

Young kids are surprisingly bad at using memory to plan ahead

We used to think children as young as four could plan for the future. ...
Hear me roar

You can tell how tall or strong a person is by hearing them roar

Both men and women can tell how much taller or stronger another person...
Hillary: that could have been a mistake

Calling men by their surname gives them an unfair career boost

We are more likely to refer to professional men by their surname than ...