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when we could count the hours

The concept of time is a fundamental aspect of our understanding of the universe, and its origin is still a subject of scientific inquiry and philosophical debate. From a physics perspective, time is considered to be a dimension, similar to space, that is a fundamental aspect of the structure of the universe.

In the framework of classical physics, time is considered to be absolute, meaning that it flows at the same rate for all observers, independent of their relative motion. However, with the advent of Einstein's theory of relativity, this view of time as an absolute entity was challenged. In relativity, time is considered to be relative, and its flow can be affected by gravity and motion.

It is believed that time began with the Big Bang, approximately 13.8 billion years ago. However, the concept of time as we understand it may not have existed before the universe began to expand and cool following the Big Bang.

In conclusion, while the origin of time is still a matter of scientific and philosophical inquiry, it is generally believed to have begun with the Big Bang, approximately 13.8 billion years ago.

Atoms formed in the early universe, shortly after the Big Bang. The exact time at which atoms formed is not precisely known, but it is estimated to have occurred between 380,000 and 400,000 years after the Big Bang.

Before this time, the universe was filled with a hot, dense plasma of ions and free electrons, which made it difficult for atoms to form. However, as the universe cooled, the electrons and ions combined to form neutral atoms, mostly hydrogen and helium. This process, known as recombination, allowed light to travel freely through the universe for the first time, marking the end of the "Dark Ages" and the beginning of the era of cosmic dawn.

The formation of atoms paved the way for the formation of stars and galaxies, and eventually, the formation of planets and the building blocks of life. Thus, the formation of atoms was a crucial step in the evolution of the universe and the eventual emergence of complex structures and life as we know it.

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