BBC World Service – CrowdScience, How old are the elements?

Can you pick a random atom on earth & tell how old it is, or what its cosmic history is?

You are a star. Literally.
You are a carbon-based life form and those atoms of carbon in the molecules that make up your cells were formed by a nuclear fusion reaction at the heart of long dead stars. That goes for the oxygen in your lungs too. And the red blood cells that carry that oxygen to your tissues? They contain haemoglobin, and nestled at the heart of each molecule is an element (iron) formed by a supernova – the fiery explosion at the death of a star. Your body is a walking, thinking museum of some of the most violent events in the universe.
This, as CrowdScience host Marnie Chesterton discovers, isn’t as special as it sounds. All of the stuff on the earth – the elements that make clouds and mountains and mobile phones – they all have an origin story. CrowdScience tells that story, starting with the big bang and ending with physicists, creating new elements in the lab. Find out the age of the elements and the distance they have travelled to make their current home on earth.
Dr Dorota Grabowska, Professor Andrea Sella, Dr Chris Pearson, Dr Jacklyn Gates

(Photo: Neutron star. Credit: Getty Images)

Listen: BBC World Service – CrowdScience, How old are the elements?

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