“First there was the earth without anything alive on it. For billions of years this ball was spinning with its sunsets and its waves and the sea and the noises, and there was nothing alive to appreciate it. Can you conceive, can you appreciate or fit into your ideas what can be the meaning of a world without a living thing on it? We are so used to looking at the world from the point of view of living things that we cannot understand what it means not to be alive, and yet most of the time the world had nothing alive on it. And in most places in the universe today there probably is nothing alive…
It has been discovered that all the world is made of the same atoms, that the stars are of the same stuff as ourselves. It then becomes a question of where our stuff come from. Not just where did life come from, or where did the earth come from, but where did the stuff of life and of the earth come from? It looks as if it was belched from some exploding star, much as some of the stars are exploding now. So this piece of dirt waits four and a half billion years and evolves and changes, and now a strange creature stands here with instruments and talks to the strange creatures in the audience. What a wonderful world!”
Richard P. Feynman. The Meaning of It All (1998).
Richard P. Feynman (1918-1988) was arguably the most brilliant, iconoclastic, and influential of 20th century theoretical physicists. For his contributions to the development of quantum electrodynamics, Feynman jointly received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1965.