Carbon, the building blocks of life (as we know it), is produced by a process called stellar nucleosynthesis.
This is an amazing fact, and I have seen it described in two very different ways:
We are made of star dust.
We are made of stellar nuclear waste.
This is a particularly vivid example of how a fact can be spun in various different ways.
“Star dust” has a magical resonance to it. Think for example, of Neil Gaiman’s bestselling 1998 fantasy novel Stardust or the accompanying 2007 film of the same name. And then there is this scene from Richard Linklater’s 1994 film “Before Sunrise” in which the Roma palm reader tells the young lovers sitting at the romantic sidewalk café that they are made of star dust. The clear message is that the world is enchanted.
Ugh. Think Three Mile Island and Chernobyl.
Teeth falling out of gums.
Nausea and vomiting.
Tumors and birth defects.
Star Dust and Nuclear Waste?
I definitely prefer being star dust. And in our best moments we are.
But in the last week I’ve been hearing more about ISIS beheadings and mass executions, 1400 children raped in a single British town, a tenuous ceasefire in Gaza, a psychopath being tried for multiple murders in northern British Columbia.
In other words, nuclear waste star dust.