THE GOLD IN MY WEDDING RING AND NEUTRON STAR MERGERS. Lee Billings reports on a major conclusion from the “overwhelmingly mammoth series of papers” published about the gravitational wave discovery—an explanation of the origin of the heavy elements, such as uranium, platinum and gold. Most hydrogen and helium were produced in the first moments after the Big Bang, and most of the lighter elements (oxygen, carbon, nitrogen) are thought to result from nuclear fusion in stars. The latest findings imply that neutron star mergers have produced most of the heavy elements in the universe.
Billings brings this home by writing “the precious metal in your wedding band may…come from the smashed-up innards of the universe’s smallest, densest and most exotic stars.”
Over time I have become comfortable with the notion that radio static is the result of the Big Bang, but right now I find it hard to connect earthly elements with the kind of events that take place millions of light years away.