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Colliding, Exploding Stars May Have Created All the Gold On Earth

samzenpus posted 1 year,12 days | from the gold-bomb dept.

Space 133

coondoggie writes "Two dead stars smashing into each other and releasing massive amounts of energy may have created all of the heavy elements such as gold found on Earth. That's the main conclusion of Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA) researchers who estimated such a collision and subsequent blast of energy known as a gamma-ray burst produced and ejected as much as 10 moon masses worth of heavy elements — including gold."

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133 comments

Old news? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,12 days | (#44314503)

I thought this was old news.

Re:Old news? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,12 days | (#44314525)

This is slashdot where news does not mean what you think it means.

Where is the mention of Gold in the real link ? (2)

Taco Cowboy (5327) | 1 year,12 days | (#44314911)

TFA gave a link to http://www.networkworld.com/community/blog/colliding-exploding-stars-may-have-created-all-gold-earth [networkworld.com] , which led to another link at http://arxiv.org/abs/1306.3960 [arxiv.org] , which I have dl-ed the PDF at http://arxiv.org/pdf/1306.3960v1.pdf [arxiv.org] ? but no matter how I search, I couldn't find any mention of the word 'gold' anywhere

Can someone please point us to the real article, please ?

Re:Where is the mention of Gold in the real link ? (2)

somersault (912633) | 1 year,11 days | (#44316359)

The end of TFA has this quote:

"We've been looking for a 'smoking gun' to link a short gamma-ray burst with a neutron star collision. The radioactive glow from GRB 130603B may be that smoking gun," said Wen-fai Fong, a graduate student at the CfA and a co-author of the paper.

Still, I don't know why gold was mentioned. Probably because it's shiny and associated with money. I'm not sure why Network World thought that singling out gold was necessary to get geeks interested in science..

Re:Where is the mention of Gold in the real link ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,11 days | (#44317057)

Maybe they wanted more than just the hard core science fan to read? If, something like money from ad revenues could possibly influence their headline writing.

Re:Old news? (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,12 days | (#44314529)

Yes, this story was originally posted 1 billion years ago, and then again about every 100 million years since. Sheesh.

Re:Old news? (1)

Mad-Bassist (944409) | 1 year,12 days | (#44314557)

Nah, it's old news when it's read on Coast to Coast AM. :-D

Re:Old news? (1)

Seumas (6865) | 1 year,12 days | (#44314683)

With your new host, George Snoorey.

Man, I miss when that show as a jaded Art Bell listening to crazy psueo-science guys, instead of the book-pimping religion-fest of nap-inducing Noorey.

Re:Old news? (4, Funny)

I'm New Around Here (1154723) | 1 year,12 days | (#44314733)

I never have gotten the appeal of that show. I catch it every so often when I'm driving to or from a late install job. Every time it's some caller talking about being visited by aliens, or a guest proclaiming he has proof of the loch ness monster. Or worse yet, healing powers of crystals/pyramids/the mind. After a few minutes I have to turn it back to something rational.

And it's not that I don't believe in aliens and some of the other stuff on CtC, but these people are like 3rd graders in their proof and arguments.

Re:Old news? (2)

Seumas (6865) | 1 year,12 days | (#44314827)

Coast to Coast with Art Bell was an amazing show. His voice was a great partner through late dark nights (Noorey's is bland and annoying). He had on crazy guests and random-ass callers and they reveled in alien/conspiracy/ghost/multi-dimensional/pseudo-science-bullshit glory for like five hours every night. Yeah, you had to suspend your disbelief (and you got the sense that Art Bell felt the same way -- he entertained his guests and callers, but was always questioning and clearly sort of "in on the fun"), but it was just the sort of late night story-telling BS kind of thing that could occasionally get past your reality and critical-thinking and for just a second or two, send a chill up your spine (especially when it was 2am, dark as hell, and you were totally alone).

Then, he left and Noorey took over the show that Art created. He turned it into a right-wing religious love-fest. He never *ever* questions his callers or guests, never really digs deeper into the things they say or claim, never even seems prepared for interviews. All he does is have guests on who are pimping books, promotes their books, and sound like a piece of silly putty. Worse, he's a shitty interviewer and every topic he ever has is based around religion (angels, etc). It sucks so fucking bad. It's just a shill hack pimping a tired point of view with a bunch of goofy paranormal mumbo-jumbo coating it.

Apparently Art Bell even left a comment once somewhere basically referencing how the show had turned to total crap.

Seriously - go dig up some 1990s shows, when Art was in his prime and hadn't handed the show over to Noorey. It was fantastic (and so was Whitley Strieber, the author, who hosted every weekend). It was just this fantastic tall-tale-telling late-night-around-the-campfire party, even though you know everything they talk about in it is bullshit (well, except when they had people like John T. Drake aka Cap'n Crunch on there).

Re:Old news? (1)

MickLinux (579158) | 1 year,12 days | (#44315967)

I remember hearing back in 1998 how Area 51 had strange aircraft with square boxes under them, and huge booms and glows.

Having worked on the 1987 US Pavillion display of the NASP for the Bourget airshow, I thought, "oh, so that's where we have the NASP/hypersonic plane".

Turned out later it was the Aurora.

Re:Old news? (1)

irving47 (73147) | 1 year,12 days | (#44314745)

New host? Are you going for some sort of super-deluxe, double-catch-22 in reference to the word new? :)

Yeah, I miss Art Bell a lot. I liked Barbara Simpson, on the weekends, several years ago, too. I haven't listened in over a year, since our cumulus station switched to Red-Eye Radio. It sounds like it's gotten worse? Does he still have Ed Dames and Steve Quayle?

Re:Old news? (1)

Seumas (6865) | 1 year,12 days | (#44314861)

I didn't listen for years. When I listened again, Noorey had taken over. I listened for a week and never tuned in again. It shouldn't even have the name of the same show. Art wasn't about politics and religion. He was about crazy conspiracies and ghosts and aliens and absurd scientific claims and interdimensional stuff and One-World-Government crazy stuff. And he was clearly often just having a laugh to himself as he interviewed nutjobs with their nutjob claims.

Noorey is like one long infomercial where he alternates between promoting books and promoting religion/politics. It's damn gross (as are almost all of the people who came out of it like Howell, and even Simpson and so on).

I still remember the one show in the 90s when a guy called in and claimed to be in a cesna or something, flying toward and then over Area 51 -- live on the air -- and Art played along. The guy got into Area 51 and was going over the base, when he started shouting that he saw a laser and they tractor beamed him or something... then it went silent. Art totally played along, wondering if it was real or if it was a tall tale.. asking callers to report with more information when they had it. It was fucking ridiculous and insane and such a joy, as an adult, to listen to. It made me imagine that's what War of the Worlds must have been like for our grandparents in the earlier part of the century.

OH! I found it on youtube!: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z4ASP3aKVj4 [youtube.com]

Then, there was the ongoing thing about "Mel's Hole"... a hole on some guy's property that was supposedly infinitely deep and if you stuck a recording device in, you could hear the screams of people in hell being tortured. Dumb as fuck, but working at a tech desk in the middle of the night on a weekend on the twelfth floor of a downtown building that was otherwise dark and unoccupied in the late 90s as a 19 or 20 year old kid . . . the recording of the voices and the discussion gave me chills and I was creeped out the entire night.

It's really kind of sad that there isn't anything like that anymore and probably never will be. Everyone else takes the shit too seriously or mixes in too much religious bullshit or is selling seeds or gold or something dumb. Art was just a pure showman and it showed.

Re:Old news? (5, Informative)

c0lo (1497653) | 1 year,12 days | (#44314561)

TFA/TFS is misleading. The reported discovery:
* is not about gold can be created only by the collision of two stars (the supernova nucleosynthesis [wikipedia.org] is still another channel, very probable the main one)
* is not about gold on Earth being originated in the collision of two start
* is about the collision of a neutron star which, besides producing a gamma-ray burst (due to acceleration of charged particles), have shown an afterglow characteristic to decays of "too neutron rich" nuclei into more stable elements (gold included)

Besides, the authors are not even sure

"We've been looking for a 'smoking gun' to link a short gamma-ray burst with a neutron star collision. The radioactive glow from GRB 130603B may be that smoking gun," said Wen-fai Fong, a graduate student at the CfA and a co-author of the paper.

Re:Old news? (4, Insightful)

b4dc0d3r (1268512) | 1 year,12 days | (#44314723)

How you gonna get page views without incoherent, misinformed rambling?

You're no fun any more. /snark

Re:Old news? (1)

c0lo (1497653) | 1 year,12 days | (#44314889)

How you gonna get page views without incoherent, misinformed rambling?

While this may be true for other classes of readers, I believe the readers of /. would still find interesting the information of "possible collision between two neutron star detected".
But maybe I'm wrong in my belief.

You're no fun any more. /snark

Even I find myself grumpier and older as the time passes (which is no fun, indeed), I'm not grumbling on this account.
Even letting aside the opportunity for me for some cheap karma-whoring, whoever is interested will still find the pertinent information no matter how sensationalistically-inflated the news is reported. So /., keep them coming.

Re:Old news? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,11 days | (#44317221)

While this may be true for other classes of readers, I believe the readers of /. would still find interesting the information of "possible collision between two neutron star detected".

Ars has a much better write-up:
http://arstechnica.com/science/2013/07/making-heavy-elements-by-colliding-neutron-stars/

say my name bitch! (1)

Thud457 (234763) | 1 year,11 days | (#44316629)

Rumplestiltskin! Rumplestiltskin! RUMPLESTILTSKIN!

Re:Old news? (4, Informative)

black3d (1648913) | 1 year,12 days | (#44314569)

The difference between this and the common knowledge is that the gold wasn't produced inside a single exploding star. As Neil deGrasse Tyson would eloquently phrase it - almost all the matter in our bodies and indeed on our planet is produced by a star going supernova and "spewing it's enriched guts throughout the cosmos".

For gold and some other heavy elements, the fusion of a star, even one going supernova, still can't produce these elements. These need a much bigger bang - that produced by TWO stars colliding together for a truly spectacular energetic detonation. The finding of these researchers isn't to suggest that this is just where gold on earth came from, but they're stating that all the heavy elements in the universe can only come about in similar cataclysmic events - rather than merely from a single star dying.

Re:Old news? (2)

black3d (1648913) | 1 year,12 days | (#44314583)

I should clarify, as c0lo has pointed out - this information isn't the "discovery" as such, but that this is what the article is largely about. The actual discovery regarding a particular detonation in question is only covered briefly in one paragraph. That is, they have discovered evidence of a gamma burst which supports the theory previously discussed.

Re:Old news? (4, Informative)

dido (9125) | 1 year,12 days | (#44314697)

Not sure if that is true. Ordinary stellar nucleosynthesis can only produce elements up to iron, because nuclear fusion of iron or any other heavier element produces less binding energy per nucleon, and thus cannot be a viable means of producing energy for a star. The s-process [wikipedia.org] that takes place in stars prior to going supernova is capable of producing elements like gold, all the way up to bismuth. Heavier elements are produced by the r-process [wikipedia.org] , that is supposed to occur in core collapse supernovae.

Re:Old news? (1)

black3d (1648913) | 1 year,12 days | (#44314737)

Absolutely - I'm not arguing the merits of the article, I was just relaying the "news" it presented, to OP. There's plenty of contention on this issue. We all agree the stuff came "from stars", but there's still plenty of debate as to which kind, which stage, and which elements for each of the above. :) I really should put in a "I am not an astrophysicist and this is not necessarily my opinion" disclaimer in there.

Re:Old news? (1)

datavirtue (1104259) | 1 year,11 days | (#44316839)

That is some interesting pedantry. Thank you.

Re:Old news? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,12 days | (#44314607)

Yes. All the exploding stars belong to the JEWZ! That's why they gots all yerz GOLDZ!

Re:Old news? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,12 days | (#44315931)

This is not news; it is olds!!!

Re:Old news? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,11 days | (#44316095)

Not really, Olds went tits up almost ten years ago.

Re:Old news? (1)

datavirtue (1104259) | 1 year,11 days | (#44316681)

I was squinting, shaking my head, and wondering how the hell they thought we got gold in the first place. Isn't this ridiculously obvious?

Of course (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,12 days | (#44314527)

This just in... Fish were also created from a massive explosion in the universe...

Re:Of course (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,12 days | (#44314627)

Starz, ekspl0shunz! PWN3D by the J3WZ!

Not supernovae? (1)

jeffb (2.718) (1189693) | 1 year,12 days | (#44314537)

Everything I read on astrophysics and cosmology theorized that they were made in supernova explosions. And why would anyone link to networkworld.com for astrophysics news?

Re:Not supernovae? (4, Interesting)

rusty0101 (565565) | 1 year,12 days | (#44314619)

I suspect that the concern of heavy elements being supernova products has to do with the short duration of the event, the perceived amount of time needed to generate the heavey elements involved, and the apparent distribution of heavy elements compared to the percieved age of the universe. Additionally while supernova events are not likely to be the sources of the high volume of grb events that are being detected. So what would be the products of grb's, and what are the likely causes of the events in the first place, if you eliminate the possibility of a grb being the result of supernova events even larger than what we think is the maximum, you end up having to look at other types of events, stars coliding with each other, dead stars coliding with each other, dead stars coliding with Neutron Stars, Neutron stars coliding with each other, dead stars with neutron stars, stars, dead stars, or neutron stars coliding with black holes, and black holes colliding with each other. Any of these collisions are possible, though of these the most probable are stars with stars, stars with dead stars, and dead stars with dead stars, as the perception is that small stars are far more frequent than stars large enough to collapse in a supernova.

As far as why to link to Networkworld.com, I suspect that the submitter couldn't find a better source.

Re:Not supernovae? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,12 days | (#44314991)

i simulated neutron star collisions

it took a while, and it heats the place up real in summer

but you get nice results because things don't get too relativistic

anyway first they go SHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOMMMMMMMMMM

then WEEEEEOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

finally KABLOOOOOOE(Y*100)

where each "Y" in kablooey is one foe (10^51 ergs, roughly 80% of the energy the sun will release over its lifetime)

you might say that's a lot of energy, and i would agree with you, and so would the particles with macroscopic energies that said explosions accelerate, but as particles cannot talk we must rely on indirect evidence gathered from the explosions of particles they generate when they hit our on-orbit cosmic ray detectors

Re:Not supernovae? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,12 days | (#44315807)

As far as network world.. haven't you notice that there is a story to network world or its sister sites multiple times a day?

10 moon masses sounds awfully small.... (1)

mark-t (151149) | 1 year,12 days | (#44314541)

... for an event like that.

Re:10 moon masses sounds awfully small.... (1)

black3d (1648913) | 1 year,12 days | (#44314645)

They're estimating "10 moon masses" worth just for the gold and other heavy elements. There'd still be tens-of-thousands of "moon-masses" worth of more common elements produced as well.

Re:10 moon masses sounds awfully small.... (1)

I'm New Around Here (1154723) | 1 year,12 days | (#44314743)

But isn't that just over 2 earth masses? Still seems small coming from an object the size of a star, let alone two of them.

Re:10 moon masses sounds awfully small.... (1)

mark-t (151149) | 1 year,12 days | (#44314813)

Agreed. There is, if I remember correctly, about a lunar mass worth of gold in the entire solar system alone. And there's about 20 times as much lead as gold. I think about 100 lunar masses worth of heavy elements is probably a better estimate.

Re:10 moon masses sounds awfully small.... (1)

pedestrian crossing (802349) | 1 year,12 days | (#44315561)

Lead is a special case because it is an especially stable nucleus, and can be created by the s-process in asymptotic giant branch stars (ie., no supernova required). Not that your ratios are wrong, but extrapolation from the r-process alone (ie., supernova or something similar required) would be inaccurate.

Re:10 moon masses sounds awfully small.... (1)

cffrost (885375) | 1 year,12 days | (#44315587)

But isn't that just over 2 earth masses? Still seems small coming from an object the size of a star, let alone two of them.

Note that these are neutron stars [wikipedia.org] being referenced here — they possess some unusual and extreme physical properties. Excerpted from Wikipedia:

A typical neutron star has a mass between about 1.4 and 3.2 solar masses [...] with a corresponding radius of about 12 km [...] In contrast, the Sun's radius is about 60,000 times that. Neutron stars have overall densities [...] of 3.7×1017 to 5.9×1017 kg/m3 (2.6×1014 to 4.1×1014 times the density of the Sun), which compares with the approximate density of an atomic nucleus of 3×1017 kg/m3. [...] This density is approximately equivalent to the mass of a Boeing 747 compressed to the size of a small grain of sand.

(My apologies if you were already aware of this.)

Re:10 moon masses sounds awfully small.... (1)

cffrost (885375) | 1 year,12 days | (#44315605)

I'm sorry, I neglected to repair the exponents in the text I copied and pasted:

A typical neutron star has a mass between about 1.4 and 3.2 solar masses [...] with a corresponding radius of about 12 km [...] In contrast, the Sun's radius is about 60,000 times that. Neutron stars have overall densities [...] of 3.7×10^17 to 5.9×10^17 kg/m3 (2.6×1014 to 4.1×10^14 times the density of the Sun), which compares with the approximate density of an atomic nucleus of 3×10^17 kg/m3. [...] This density is approximately equivalent to the mass of a Boeing 747 compressed to the size of a small grain of sand.

Re:10 moon masses sounds awfully small.... (1)

mark-t (151149) | 1 year,12 days | (#44314775)

There's about a lunar mass worth of gold *ALONE* in the solar system. And there are several heavier elements than gold that are much more common (lead coming to mind as one obvious one). I'dthink the mass of all of the heavy elements in the solar system combined is probably closer to 100 to 200 lunar masses.

Re:10 moon masses sounds awfully small.... (2)

MickLinux (579158) | 1 year,12 days | (#44315989)

There's about a lunar mass of gold in my Madoff fund potfolio.

Oh, wait a minute, that's out of date. I need to see how the fund has been doing recently. Anyone know how to look up that listing?

Re:10 moon masses sounds awfully small.... (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,11 days | (#44317033)

Looking at the abundance of elements in the solar system (Wikipedia has a chart [wikipedia.org] , but if you don't trust wikipedia, it looks about the same as the one in a textbook I have an in other papers), there is about a 11 orders of magnitude difference between the hydrogen in the solar system and the amount of gold (actually slightly more, but we'll round down for convenience). For back of the envelope you can just use the mass of the sun for the solar system (or add 0.14% if you are being picky), and you can see that if gold is less than one part in 10^11, that works out to about 2*10^19 kg, or 0.02% of the mass of the moon. So I don't think there is anywhere near a lunar mass of gold in the solar system, unless you have some other sources saying the 10^-11 factor is off by nearly 4 orders of magnitude. There are only about ~25 elements that would have more than a lunar mass worth in the solar system.

If we were generous and counted the 14 elements from Au to U as having the same abundance as Au, except for Mercury at ~3 times as much and Pb at ~30 times as much, that would still amount to less than 1% of a lunar mass.

Get rich quickly .. (3, Funny)

OhANameWhatName (2688401) | 1 year,12 days | (#44314543)

.. smash two stars together, close enough to the earth to collect all of the gold .. GOLD!!!

Re:Get rich quickly .. (2)

mlheur (212082) | 1 year,12 days | (#44314599)

Holds true for hollywood stars too - smash them together, collect the gold bits that scatter.

Re:Get rich quickly .. (1)

I'm New Around Here (1154723) | 1 year,12 days | (#44314749)

Or smash your girlfriend's 7 evil ex'es, and pickup the gold coins that they become.

Re:Get rich quickly .. (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,11 days | (#44316407)

Or smash your girlfriend's 7 evil ex'es, and pickup the gold coins that they become.

That's not gold, that's just springs, motors, worn plastic casing, and batteries. Very little re-use value.

Re:Get rich quickly .. (1)

SplashMyBandit (1543257) | 1 year,12 days | (#44315589)

This is Slashdot, man. It should go something like this:
1. Get too starz
2. Smash em togetha
3. ???
4. Profit !!111
Good if this paper covers some calculations for the ??? bit (I'm a bad doggy, despite being an ex-astrophysicist I didn't even read the linked paper - on the 'turps' at the moment, hic! :) ).

Re:Get rich quickly .. (1)

poofmeisterp (650750) | 1 year,11 days | (#44316531)

.. smash two stars together, close enough to the earth to collect all of the gold .. GOLD!!!

Well, then it isn't that rare anymore and the value would go down.

We need to prevent the collision of neutron stars -AND- prevent supernovae. Now that would be a value no one can refuse. Well, until everyone's been shot in the natural course of theft but that's beside the point. /snark :)

Not first-generation supernovae? (1)

Mad-Bassist (944409) | 1 year,12 days | (#44314547)

I thought our heavy elements came mostly from the short-lived first generation of hypergiant hydrogen stars going supernova. If this theory is true, then are we lucky to have so much on this planet? I think about all the lead here, much of which is the end product of nuclear decay over billions of years from radioactive elements that must have been more abundant at some point.

I also wonder if our protoplanetary disc acted like a gold pan during the formation of the solar system, so Mercury might have lots of heavy elements as well as Venus (talk about hard to mine!)

Maybe our solar system would be attractive to extraterrestrial miners after all.

Re:Not first-generation supernovae? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,12 days | (#44314579)

How do you know we have "so much"?

Samples from other planets to compare to?

Re:Not first-generation supernovae? (1)

Xicor (2738029) | 1 year,12 days | (#44314601)

well, we DO sample some of the nearby planets in our solar system... that being said, there are probably a nearly infinite amount of planets in our universe... for all we know, some planets' main natural resource is gold

Re:Not first-generation supernovae? (1)

black3d (1648913) | 1 year,12 days | (#44314631)

That seems extremely unlikely. While two stars colliding in such an event may well produce "10 moon masses" worth of heavy elements, it would also produce tens of thousands of moon-masses worth of other more common elements, like carbon. Unless you've got someone out there artificially separating the gold from everything else, you're going to end up with the same ratios of commonality in elements everywhere that we'd observed.
 
Note: This does, however, lend itself to planets made largely out of DIAMONDS. ;)

Re:Not first-generation supernovae? (1)

Score Whore (32328) | 1 year,12 days | (#44315159)

If all the gold ever mined and brought to the surface it'd fill something like 3 or 4 Olympic sized swimming pools. That's it. We don't have that much.

Re:Not first-generation supernovae? (1)

Score Whore (32328) | 1 year,12 days | (#44315161)

... brought to the surface was brought together it'd fill something...

Jesus, sometimes I get ahead of what I've typed.

Re:Not first-generation supernovae? (5, Informative)

c0lo (1497653) | 1 year,12 days | (#44314603)

I thought our heavy elements came mostly from the short-lived first generation of hypergiant hydrogen stars going supernova.

Supernova nucleosynthesis is still the main mechanism for creation of elements heavier than Fe. The guys report that they think other type of events may lead to the creation of heavy elements and they believe we already witnessed such an event [arxiv.org]

And to finish the thought... (3, Informative)

Brett Buck (811747) | 1 year,12 days | (#44314875)

In case anyone was wondering, Iron (Fe) is the limit to what is formed in convention fusion processes because any element heavier than iron takes more energy to fuse than is produced by the fusion. Iron and lighter fuse with an energy surplus, anything heavier requires an energy input and produces a deficit.

Re:Not first-generation supernovae? (1)

mlheur (212082) | 1 year,12 days | (#44314611)

What does ET think is "attractive"? - if they find H2O attractive then we're screwed.

Re:Not first-generation supernovae? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,11 days | (#44317217)

If Mercury had that much gold, we'd have called it 'Gold' - not Mercury.
That's just science, man.

None from supernovas? (0)

MiniMike (234881) | 1 year,12 days | (#44314585)

I thought that elements heavier than iron were created in supernova explosions- have they been ruled out as a source? It seems like they are more common than "Two dead stars smashing into each other" would be. They're not even mentioned in TFA.

Try tracing the calcium in your bones (2)

Beeftopia (1846720) | 1 year,12 days | (#44314617)

Try tracing the calcium in your bones to their origin. It's a very interesting flight of fancy:

"Calcium comes from stars. In fact, all of the elements that make up your body and the planet Earth itself, other than hydrogen and helium, were made in stars or during during explosions of massive stars." -- http://imagine.gsfc.nasa.gov/docs/teachers/calcium/got_calcium_litho.html [nasa.gov]

Re:Try tracing the calcium in your bones (1)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | 1 year,12 days | (#44315533)

Anything heavier than carbon was created in a supernova.

Science is awesome.

Re:Try tracing the calcium in your bones (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,12 days | (#44315645)

One wonders how the carbon got out of the gravity well of a star without it going nova...

Re:Try tracing the calcium in your bones (1)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | 1 year,11 days | (#44316065)

Well, here's one way [wikimedia.org]

Re:Try tracing the calcium in your bones (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,11 days | (#44317219)

There are plenty of heavier elements made with without supernova. If there is any carbon, even in the Sun, variations on the CNO process will produce nitrogen and oxygen from that carbon, although depending on which process affects what actually accumulates instead of getting burned off. That difficult hump is the triple alpha process needed to get large amounts of carbon directly from helium, but once there, there are various processes for producing small amounts up to even titanium in a star that won't go supernova. If you have a star of about ~10 solar masses, you can get mass production of Ne, Na, and Mg without a supernova resulting (although plenty of solar wind blowing off a large part of that mass into deep space).

Re:Try tracing the calcium in your bones (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,11 days | (#44317257)

Remember the old saw, "we are all star stuff" Asmiov

Now colliding, exploding stars are wearing it! (1)

kawabago (551139) | 1 year,12 days | (#44314621)

Bling!

Re:Now colliding, exploding stars are wearing it! (1)

game kid (805301) | 1 year,11 days | (#44316195)

"Got chainz so tight, dey outshinin' mah photosphere..."

All? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,12 days | (#44314633)

Never claim "all" atoms of some type are from some specific thing. Thats pretty much always wrong. There will be some exceptions. Their are asteroids from far out side the solar-system, random fusion caused by a cosmic ray, man made, and decay products as other sources. Perhaps this explains 99.9999% or more, but certainly not "all" of the heavy elements on earth.

I know for a fact that humans have created a lot of heavy elements in labs and breeder reactors. This clearly falsifies the summery.

Re:All? (1)

bussdriver (620565) | 1 year,12 days | (#44314949)

Human made elements are expensive in cost and energy use but as far as I know they never create them legitimately. What we do is take super-nova scale energy investments in existing elements and nudge them into becoming a different element. We don't turn energy into mass yet do we?

Re:All? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,12 days | (#44315307)

There is no such thing as an legitimate atom. Atoms are atoms. Weather they are made in the LHC, breeder reactor, laser assisted fusion, or some non-man made process like radio active decay, fusion in the sun, high energy particle collisions, supernova etc.

Super-nova produce very high energy densities which are needed to fuse heavy elements. So do our particle accelerators. Supernova do a lot more atoms at a time which is why they take much more energy.

Nuclear reactors are commercial devices for creating new atoms. Breeder reactors can even up convert atoms to heavier ones (generally heavier isotopes, not different elements), but you can convert elements via proton bombardment. Down conversion via radioactive decay is very common.

All these atoms are not from supernova, and it only takes a single one to counter the "all" in the summery.

Regarding energy to mass conversion, thats commonplace. Throw a baseball: it gets slightly heavier (from your reference frame) because it has kinetic energy. Some (not much) of the energy went into mas via EMC^2. This is more apparent in nuclear reactors (where the mass is slightly reduced as the bonding energy is reduced/released) and in particle accelerators (where the apparent mass is greatly increased as energy is added), but it applies to everything as well. Relativity isn't some impractical future technology; it's part of physics and applies to everything. For most stuff, the effects are absolutely tiny, but they are present.

And soon after came the Jews who wanted the gold. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,12 days | (#44314639)

You know, the RIAA, the MPAA, and the bankers who ruined the
US economy.

All Jews.

Idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,12 days | (#44314685)

After the sun goes supernova in a. Couple of billion years, human (who are living in some other part of the universe, hopefully) we come back to what's left of earth and take all the precious metal.

Re:Idea (1)

bigfinger76 (2923613) | 1 year,12 days | (#44315075)

Sorry. Our sun is too small.

Gold and fault lines, volcanoes (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,12 days | (#44314687)

I have read that gold deposits form near fault lines and volcanoes. For example http://www.ehow.com/info_8564326_characteristics-gold-deposits.html. What I am not clear about is if these pressures create gold atoms or whether they simply clump gold atoms together.

Re:Gold and fault lines, volcanoes (1)

tnk1 (899206) | 1 year,12 days | (#44314797)

Most of the gold that was originally part of the Earth at the time of formation is actually sitting at or near the core at this point, due to its density. It's believed that most gold that we mine right now is actually from meteorites. Obviously, any gold in the crust from those impacts can be melted and brought to the surface by volcanism, which is why you'll also find gold and heavy metals near volcanic areas and sites of impacts.

Re:Gold and fault lines, volcanoes (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,12 days | (#44314799)

The "pressure" required to make gold is found mostly in supernovae and other stellar cataclysms. Conditions on earth just aren't energetic enough to smash atoms together effectively. For which we may be quite thankful.

You know (2)

EzInKy (115248) | 1 year,12 days | (#44314695)

You blow up one sun and everyone expects you to walk on water!

To those who talk about this encouraging mining remember, the more you have a something the less valuable it tends to be. Sure gold has many industrial uses, but its main value is its perceived relative scarcity. Change that and you will essentially achieve the opposite of the alchemist's dream and turn gold into lead.

Re:You know (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,12 days | (#44314851)

That would be inflation, from detonation.

Re:You know (2)

Neo-Rio-101 (700494) | 1 year,12 days | (#44314917)

To those who talk about this encouraging mining remember, the more you have a something the less valuable it tends to be.

Don't beat up on mining, or you'll force it underground.

Re:You know (1)

iggymanz (596061) | 1 year,11 days | (#44317327)

effective way to conveyor view; that's very deep; hope they don't get shafted; we'll see what pans out

Re:You know (2)

rahvin112 (446269) | 1 year,12 days | (#44314979)

The space mining company that's recently been setup should be a gold investors worst nightmare. They could capture a gold asteroid and bring it into earths orbit and slowly deorbit more gold than the entire mining industry can produce every year with little to no cost (for re-entry) once it's in a stable earth orbit. They could easily destroy the entire value of gold and make themselves insanely rich in the process. And it's not just gold, it's any metal, there are asteroids the size of small cities up there that are 90% pure raw metal (no nasty oxygen in space to ruin everything). The trick is getting into orbit, but once it's there it's darn near trivial to hack pieces off and deorbit them.

I imagine in a decade or two they could have in orbit a dozen asteroids a mile or so in diameter each. They could cover every precious metal and even put in orbit less valuable metals such as nickel, zinc or even iron. In fact I think if we ever intend to build a real space station this will be how it's done.

The only difficulty is the putting them in orbit problem, but we might find that even something as simple as a solar sail could do it.

Re:You know (4, Interesting)

Artea (2527062) | 1 year,12 days | (#44315077)

Wouldn't the abundance of a semi-scarce highly useful industrial product be a net gain for society? Malleable, resistant to corrosion, excellent conductivity, low melting point. Not obtaining more of a useful material in order to maintain scarcity seems counter-productive.

Re:You know (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,11 days | (#44316079)

No...

The value of gold is derived from:
1) It conducts electricity (very important)
2) It conducts electricity and doesn't tarnish
3) It is easily malleable
4) It resists corrosion
5) Yes it is relatively scarce, but not as scarce as unobtainium...
6) Objects made of it are shiny...
7) It powers my General Dynamics Hull #3 ship.....

Re:You know (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,11 days | (#44317059)

You seem to be saying that gold has many industrial uses. As far as I know it has almost none.

if they were both dead.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,12 days | (#44314767)

how could they collide?

Collide me a Mr. T and a Kanye West (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,12 days | (#44314873)

Ah needs me some bling bling!

How about a proper link? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,12 days | (#44314881)

Direct source. [smithsonianmag.com]

I really am starting to hate every site that links to secondary sites, that run an article on the original article from another site. Starting to think these sites are colluding for ad hits.

So the question is... (1)

Blugenes (2987347) | 1 year,12 days | (#44314971)

...are you saying Earth was the victim of a planetary-scale golden shower at some point?

Dibs. (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,12 days | (#44315033)

Dibs. Double dibs.

Nibbler did it! (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,12 days | (#44315037)

That little fart can do almost anything!
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nibbler_%28Futurama%29#Nibbler

hmmm ... I call BS (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,12 days | (#44315045)

BS as in bad science!
BS as in bull s@#t!

Think for just a second ... and it won't even take that long. Earth seeded by a heavy metal like gamma burst; just how did we get heavy metals on the other side of the planet?

Oh Oh Oh ... pick me! there was another heavy metal like gamma burst on the other side of the planet by two more ...

never mind, I'll just chalk it it up to some twits 15 seconds of bad science.

Re:hmmm ... I call BS (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,11 days | (#44316137)

"bull s@#t" ? How cute. We're all grown ups here, you can spell it out in the open: "bullshit". There. No one was harmed.

Re:hmmm ... I call BS (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,11 days | (#44316431)

You have displayed an almost complete lack of understanding of every scientific concept related to this story.
You used unnecessary foul language.
You have been rude and disrespectful of those more knowledgeable than you.

Troll score: 8/10.

The Winslow (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,12 days | (#44315169)

Everyone's missed that the most important thing to be created in the universe is The Winslow.

http://www.rochesterfantasyfans.org/goodies/winslow1.jpg [rochesterfantasyfans.org]

Dejection (1)

programmerar (915654) | 1 year,12 days | (#44315181)

And alchemists all over the world draw a sigh of dejection.

says who... (1)

hesaigo999ca (786966) | 1 year,11 days | (#44316695)

Ok, but you cant prove this for sure, its like me saying that the diamonds could have been from a species that came to earth 100 million years ago when the earth was still in a stage of gas turning into solid, and introduced a special compound that started to form the diamonds inside the crust, and that was done purely to come back hundreds of millions of years later after all the humans had mined the diamonds and then take them without so much needing to mine themselves, and no one would be able to refute this as no one was there 100 million years ago to contest this claim.

I base this on what, probability that some intelligent species exist and could have thought of a pre-terra forming scheme like this.... I thought of it, so why could they have not? The probability of this not having happened is too great to just ignore it, but I know everyone will anyways because it cannot even be proven, much like the claim they make in this post.

ridiculous (2)

slashmydots (2189826) | 1 year,11 days | (#44316705)

The probability of two stars that are both dead smashing into each other is so unlikely, this is completely ridiculous. That's like making a pool shot from new york to LA blindfolded except a million times less likely and don't forget, they both have to be dead stars.

Obligatory (1)

Jawnn (445279) | 1 year,11 days | (#44317083)

Bitcoin reference. Can't let a discussion of currency or precious metals go by without a reference that which is neither.

RON PAUL (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,11 days | (#44317167)

End the Fed! Invest in Colliding stars! Was Obama born in this Solar System?

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