The Origin of Atoms

Originally published at: https://bigideas.network/origins-of-atoms/

Every single atom around us, including those in our own bodies, originated in momentous cosmic events that predate the Earth.

We know this because there are only a limited number of ways to create them, which means that the atoms that are us once came from places like the center of a star.

Our Sun is what astronomers call a ‘third generation’ star. It and its planets (including the Earth) formed from the remnants of at least two earlier generations of stars.

But the story really begins minutes after the Big Bang. The early universe was full of searing heat and pressure, where trillions of free-floating protons and neutrons fused together to form the first hydrogen and helium atoms…

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