Have you been watching the Wonders of the Solar System with Brian Cox? It’s a series I’m really in to having watched his Wonders of the Solar System series last year, and generally being fascinated by science, and physics in particular.
In last week’s episode Brian (former keyboard player for D:ream turned Professor) provided us with a lovely little link between the universe and our very own subject: Weddings …and thus a great opportunity for me to ramble about it here!
He talked about elements and how they are formed by joining of atoms, and he went on to talk about gold in particular:
There is only enough gold in the world to fill 3 Olympic swimming pools. This is the reason why it is such a sought after metal despite being of barely any use (It is used mostly as jewellery). The main thing going for it is its rarity. It is one of many rare elements (the 60 that are heavier than iron such as gold, silver, platinum etc). He explained how these elements are not only rare in the world but also in the universe. This is because they’re only created when the very largest stars (those 9 times larger in mass than our sun) implode and create a supernova. It is only the speeds and temperature reached here (100billion degrees) that allow the formation of heavy metals such as gold.
So what’s this got to do with weddings? Well, he got out a gold wedding ring and, whilst poignantly looking at it, surmised that it’s ‘quite a thought that something as precious as the gold in a wedding ring was forged in the death of a star billions of years ago and millions of light years away!’ -Indeed it is. Our wedding rings are of course very precious anyway, but knowing this adds even more to their significance. And this is of course the case for silver as well as gold wedding rings.
Cox went on to say how the last supernova in our galaxy was in 1604, yet on average there’s one every century in a galaxy. So in other words we’re long overdue a supernova. A star named ‘Beetlejuice’ has been detected as the most likely to be the one to supernova. It could happen tomorrow (but could also not be for a long time) and when it does it will shine as brightly as a second sun in the sky. I have got my fingers crossed that it happens while I’m on a wedding shoot …that would surely create the best wedding video ever!
The 3rd episode in the series is on tonight on BBC2 at 9pm. Tune in!