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Silver and Gold: Clues to the History of Our Solar System

19 Dec 2013, 05:44 UTC
Silver and Gold: Clues to the History of Our Solar System
(200 words excerpt, click title or image to see full post)

It's that time of year when many of us are buying gifts for our loved ones. And there's a song from the old Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer TV special that comes to mind (sung by the character Yukon Cornelius): "Silver and gold, silver and gold. How many wonders can one cavern hold?..." But have you ever stopped to think about where your jewelery came from? I don't mean how your silver and gold was mined, but how was it created? It's much more interesting than anything you've probably imagined!SILVER & GOLDGold crystal (image from Wikipedia)First, let's go back to the birth of the Universe: BANG! (That was the Big Bang.) Sometime between 10 seconds and 20 minutes from now, the first atoms will be formed (this is called Big Bang nucleosynthesis). These first atoms were of the simplest elements in the periodic table; mostly hydrogen and some helium and lithium. Even today, the most common elements in the Universe are hydrogen and helium. A few hundred million years later, clouds of this material will collapse to form the first stars. This birth is marked by the ignition of nuclear fusion: the smashing of lighter elements together to make heavier ones. ...

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