“We are literally the ashes of long dead stars” said Astronomer Royal Sir Martin Rees. But what does that mean?
I apologise now, I’m going to get technical and anyone who has done chemistry will recognise this, if you hated it you will groan:
Yup, it’s the periodic table… with a difference.This picture of the periodic table (from Wikipedia) shows the elements, but highligted by their process of creation.
I’m going to take two examples, firstly Carbon (C- Top right ), important to us as we are Carbon based life forms. The highlight shows us that this was formed as part of the process of a star living and dying. The next one is Gold (Au – third line from the bottom, somewhere in the middle) this element is created then two neutron stars collide or when low mass stars die .
Just stop for one minute… think about it. Now stop before your brain implodes like mine just did. WTF?!!? The atoms that formed me came from a star that was dying and giving off carbon, I came from a star like Betelguese.
The ring on my finger, the metal used to make it was flung from a dying star as it tore itself to pieces. Or when two neutron stars collided (or when a star explodes apparently)in a process that if I was there (I couldn’t but bear with me on this) would have destroyed me completely and utterly into component atoms and then destroyed them… If the gold on my ring could tell a story, what would it tell me? It’s so incredible that it’s almost beyond comprehension.
One of my favourite comedy’s Blackadder had an episode where Lord Percy tryed out some alchemy to make dold and ended up making green…
Bless him… not even he could comprehend that in order to succeed he would have to destroy the Earth and the solar system to make gold. I hope I haven’t mangled your brains too much, but I really had to share this.