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  • It has been said by artists and scientists, "we are star dust" and "we are nuclear waste". Discuss each quote in terms of the evolution of a star and its planetary system from a molecular gas cloud and the source of that cloud?

Astronomy/It has been said by artists and scientists, "we are star dust" and "we are nuclear waste". Discuss each quote in terms of the evolution of a star and its planetary system from a molecular gas cloud and the source of that cloud?

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Question
It has been said by artists and scientists, "we are star dust" and "we are nuclear waste". Discuss each quote in terms of the evolution of a star and its planetary system from a molecular gas cloud and the source of that cloud?

Answer
Yes, exactly true.  In fact, another correct statement you hear is... "Look around you, and everything you see is from SNR's (Supernova Remnants), including ourselves."
Yes, obviously the Big Bang created only hydrogen and a little Helium (and actually just a trace amount of atomic number 3, Lithium... but there it stopped. So with the nuclear reactions inside the massive stars (the only ones that eventually explode)... all the other elements came from those nuclear furnaces and subsequent nuclear explosions call supernovae.
And surprisingly, we're only up to about 3% "heavy" elements... 97% of the Universe is still hydrogen and helium.  We've only just begun about one month ago in Universal time (Big Bang). The Solar System is only 10 days old (1/3 of the total age, 13.7 billion years) of the Universe.  Humans have only been in existence for a few seconds on that same clock. (2-3 million years).
So obviously, since we have all the heavy elements (Lithium #3 to Uranium #92) in our Solar System, the cloud we formed up from some 4.6 billion years ago, already contained this "stardust" or nuclear waste" as you put it... but I like to think of it as SNR material all around us, including we ourselves.
So we owe our actual existence as Earth and humans (at least in the physical sense) (but not necessarily in the theological sense)... to all the past supernova events that occurred prior to 4.6 billion years ago, during that 9 billion year interval between the Big Bang, and the formation of the Solar System.  Because without all those "heavy elements" exploded outward, rocky planets, humans, and McDonald's stores... would be impossible.
(It's thought to be impossible to get life, any life... from just plain hydrogen and helium gas... so we couldn't be here discussing it... if it weren't for the results of past fusion reactions in the stars.)
Hope this helps,
Clear Skies,
Tom Whiting
Erie, PA  

Astronomy

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Tom Whiting

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Astronomy has been my hobby/pasttime for over 50 years.  Currently own 3 telescopes, the largest of which is a 30 inch Newtonian truss Dob that is portable.I taught Astronomy/Meteorology at the University Level for 13 years before retiring in 1995. Being retired and home most of the time, I am able to answer all questions relatively quickly, unless it's a new moon weekend with good observing conditions.  No astrology questions please, or questions about alleged UFO picture identifications.

Experience

Experience: Astronomy has been my hobby and study for over 50 years. We currently now own a 30 inch portable telescope (Updated - Pennsylvania`s largest portable telescope). It can be seen on our website at:http://www.velocity.net/~bwhiting and also attend several regional starparties during the year, and have been on 5 total solar eclipse expeditions.

Organizations: President, Erie County Mobile Observers Group for over 15 years.

Publications: Wrote the "Over Erie Skies" newspaper article in our local newspaper for 11 years (1975-86).

Education: Masters Degree- Taught at the University level for 13 years. Retired 20 years -USAF Pilot - KC-135 with 180 combat missions;  Also Eagle Scout, Philmont staff 2 Yrs, Order of Arrow Lodge Chief, Ham Radio (inactive).

Awards: two discoveries: The mini-coathanger asterism in Ursa Minor (the little dipper) And the mini-ladle- another asterism in the bowl of Ursa Minor. Clients: Currently President of the ECMOG as mentioned above.

Education/Credentials
BS  Metallurgical Engineering Grove City College, PAMaster's Degree, Gannon University, Erie, PA Also retired USAF pilot, 20 years.

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