IRON: A connection between stars and us

Regarding the intriguing quote about our origin, especially the origin of the iron in our blood being from distant stars billions of years ago, I was googling about this to get a better understanding, and came upon this article.

“Here’s an amazing fact for your next cocktail party: Every single atom in your body—the calcium in your bones, the carbon in your genes, the iron in your blood, the gold in your filling—was created in a star billions of years ago. All except atoms of hydrogen and one or two of the next lightest elements. They were formed even earlier, shortly after the Big Bang began 13.7 billion years ago.”

(From “The Star in You“)

The article went on to say that after an ancient star died and exploded into a supernova, dispersing its elements into the surrounding space, the stardust may eventually form a solar system consisting of planets and the sun, such as the solar system we live. The mystery remains as to how the atoms and molecules on our planet eventually become alive as we know it.

“Just how those atoms and molecules that ended up on our planet went from non-living to living remains one of the great unanswered questions in science. But where the elements came from to start with has now been worked out, in broad strokes anyway, to astrophysicists’ widespread satisfaction. It is an amazing story, isn’t it?”

(From “The Star in You“)

Solar System
Solar System (Photo credit: Joe Plocki (turbojoe))

I am also reminded from health articles I read so far that iron is important in our blood as it carries oxygen in the red blood cells. For some reasons, dark green leafy vegetables and beans, among others, contain more of this stardust than other plants. Who would have thought iron in stars can become life sustaining mineral for us?

Perhaps a greater mystery as to what causes iron in stars to become life sustaining minerals in our body is what holds everything in the universe, including the atoms in our body, together. It may take a moment in time or an eternity to appreciate the wonders of this mystery.

 

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The beauty of science

I like the poem by Walt Whitman shared in the video – that somehow the charts and diagrams and figures and columns used to explain the stars do not quite do justice to the mystique and mystery of stars, and the poet decided to wander off by himself and looked up in perfect silence in the mystical moist night-air at the stars. Yes, sometimes, silence is the best response to appreciate the beauty of science, as we behold the glory of the universe with awe and wonder. There are times I looked at the majesty of some natural phenomena and was left speechless.

Earlier this afternoon I took a longer route to go for lunch, passing by rows of houses and a patch of rainforest, and upon returning to office, I decided to take a lift up to the top of a housing board flat, and look at the rainforest from above. Seeing the remnant of the rainforest amidst the suburban houses and flats filled me with a sense of awe – I wish this part of the land remains untouched and undeveloped for as long as it is necessary (see photo below).

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The world we dream

Look at Mars in this video.

Video information

The World We Dream — Jill Tarter, Chair, SETI Institute. Putting a man on the moon was once simply a dream. What are some of today’s most innovative and thought provoking visions for our future? Image: NASA/JAXA

This is a fascinating message about how we all came to know and understand ourselves better as a collective humanity or earthlings, even as we seek to know the universe outside of our planet. The red planet Mars looks intriguing, and I hope more studies can be made on this planet as time goes by.

Phoenix and the American Flag on Mars
Phoenix and the American Flag on Mars (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As shared by the presenter, perhaps extraterrestrial life does not necessarily live by the same principles of nature that we earthlings do, such as being dependent on liquid water for survival. I agree with the message that when we look at ourselves from a cosmic perspective, we all can learn to celebrate our commonalities instead of letting our perceived differences divide us. After all, we are also intergalactic beings, not just earthlings – as the message puts it, we are made of stardust and we have come a long way to study the evolution of stars (ourselves) today.