Jason’s Ranting & Raving

Those who don’t read have no advantage over those who can’t.

Book Review: Cosmos by Carl Sagan

Posted by jaystile on November 19, 2008

Cosmos by Carl Sagan is a non-fiction book describing what we know of the universe. It starts with the great scientific minds of the ancient world and works forward. It touches on astronomical discovery, orbital dynamics, planet formation, star formation and lifetimes, the possibility of life on other planets, and our role as humans in the universe. We humans continue to hypothesize and discover: loop quantum cosmology and the bouncing universe.

Something interesting stuck me in this book. I used to think of atoms as being rather transient. You hear of molecules being broken apart and then reformed as different molecules, splitting the atom for nuclear power or weapons. But that is not the case. The nuclear force that hold an atom together is nearly unbreakable. Stars are formed primarily of Hydrogen. Hydrogen has one proton and one neutron. The sun’s gravity due to it’s mass forces the nuclei to fuse resulting in Helium, 2 protons and 2 neutrons. Periodic table reference: The Peridioc Table. Stars continue to process Hydrogen into Helium until it’s fuel runs out. It then starts to combine the Helium into heavier atoms like Carbon, Oxygen, and Nitrogen. It takes a lot of energy to split or fuse atoms (unlike molecules) so everything that is in your body that is not hydrogen was made in a star. Not our star. An ancient star that formed, burned all it’s fuel, and then exploded billions of years ago before the Sun was formed. We are made of stars.

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