Are we Stars or Dust?

By Anjali Gaur

When we are looking at the stars, we are looking at the past. Some of the stars we see in the sky at night have died, and they were once what we are composed of now. “We are made out of stardust. The iron in the haemoglobin molecules in the blood in your right hand came from a star that blew up 8 billion years ago. The iron in your left hand came from another star”. Jill Tarter

Every atom in our body came from a star that exploded eons ago. We would not be here if those stars we see shining in the night sky had not exploded, there would be no carbon, nitrogen, oxygen or iron: all the things necessary for evolution. Stars are like humans: mortal. They are born; they live for a relatively fixed amount of time, and then they die by fading away or exploding. The only difference is that in comparison to stars, we live on a much smaller time scale.

We are all combinations of bits and pieces of the universe, but we chose to divide ourselves into categories. On Earth, being a result of 3.8 billion years of evolutionary success, we divide humans by nationalities, skin colour, and religion, and animals by their usefulness to humans. We forget that something as minuscule as the iron is our blood that was formed in the stars, billions of years ago, trillions of miles away, and this was not fashioned according to our nationalities, skin colour, and religion on Earth. The universe contributes the essential components of life for all living things. Yet, why do we feel we have the right to decide some lives are more important than others?

Rather than putting ourselves in man-made boxes to discriminate each other, we could all just look at the sky at night and realise that at the end of the day we all have the same origin. How can the labelling and cataloging we have invented on Earth define us, when every tiny element of our being was created in the same manner billions of years ago? Was this categorization of humans created on Earth, the reason for the universe giving us all the same building blocks of life? The Stars gave us life-sustaining minerals necessary to support and prolong life.  Items such as the carbon in our genes to the iron in our blood to carry oxygen around our body. Instead of turning against each other or exploiting each other, we should appreciate the wonders of this mystery, and treasure the universes power to use the smallest of elements to help us survive and thrive on Earth. Yet, how are we different from each other? How exactly is one more individual more important than the another? It is important to recognise that we are all the same, we all are stardust, and yet we treat some as stars, and others as dust.

Anjali Gaur is a Researcher living in Pavia, Italy. She studied biomedical sciences in Australia and the UK. Her current work involves research on ‘Red Blood Cell Ageing” funded by the European Commission. Prior to this she worked in Hong Kong and Sweden, where she developed ‘Phage Display Antibodies’.

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