September 14, 2011

Element Recycling

Apart from the stray asteroid here and there, the elements we have on earth have been here since the beginning and haven't left. Obviously, a lot has changed since the formation of our planet, but the elements are pretty much the same; they're just being used in different ways.


Oh, my apologies. You and Logical Sea Cucumber haven't been properly introduced.


Now that we've taken care of that, I'll continue.

Let's consider just one element: carbon. The carbon atoms I have in my body weren't always mine, and they won't be mine for very long after I die. Some of my carbon may have at one point belonged to a dinosaur, or a mushroom, or the first photosynthesizing cell on the planet.


We don't own our atoms. We borrow them from the earth's supply and give them back for others to use when we're done.


My carbon most definitely belonged to an animal or plant during my lifetime, as that is where I got it in the first place.


If the carbon I'm using right now has been here since the beginning of life on earth, they've seen things I can't even imagine. One of the carbon atoms in my nose might have once been part of an ancient life form that left no fossils. We'll never know that it existed. Ever.

If only I could talk to my atoms to ask them where they've been.


Maybe I should get a psychic to tell me where my atoms have been.


That'd be pretty cool, right?


I'll take that as a no.

Instead, just think about the gajillions of atoms you have and where they might have been 1, 10, 100, 1,000... or even a billion years ago. Interconnectedness at its finest.