Believe it or not, your body is largely made of the products from exploding stars, cosmic ray fission, and other Star Trek-esque phenomena. The stellar origins of every atom in your body trace back to the Big Bang, and are now outlined for your enjoyment in a new periodic table that classifies all the elements that make up life on Earth, according to their origin.
Ohio State University astronomer Jennifer A. Johnson concocted the colorful table to give folks a better idea of where the ingredients for every living human originally came from. According to Science Alert, the human body is made up mostly of hydrogen, the most common atom in the universe, produced during the Big Bank about 13.8 billion years ago.
The remainder of your body’s atoms are the product of ancient stars that merged, exploded and died over the billions of years since the universe was first forged. Others are the result of cosmic rays of high-energy radiation that come from outside our solar system.
According to Johnson, her periodic table accounts only for the main elements of the human body, while others were cut in an effort to make the chart as relevant as possible. “Tc, Pm, and the elements beyond U do not have long-lived or stable isotopes. I have ignored the elements beyond U in this plot, but not including Tc and Pm looked weird, so I have included them in grey,” she says on her blog.
The new table builds on work Johnson did in 2008, with her colleague Inese Ivans from the University of Utah. They launched into the work of putting this table together out of frustration over constantly having to explain which elements go with which process on a periodic table.
What they’ve created is a periodic table that identifies the six sources of elements in our body and breaks them down by the stellar process that resulted in their formation. The colors correspond to the various elements and the way they fill up the boxes shows how much of that element is linked to a certain cosmic process or event.