Big Bang Universe origins, in your hand.

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Lithium.

For millennia it didn’t matter. Now it plays a key role in your life. Lithium in the element in almost all disposable and rechargeable batteries, including the lithium-ion battery and the lithium iron phosphate battery. No lithium –  no smart phone, no ipad, no laptop.

Lithium always mattered to astronomy however.

Even though the Big Bang was 13.8 billion years ago, scientists have a good understanding of the nuclear reactions that produced the first elements. We can calculate exactly how much of each element and isotope should have been made. When we then compare these predictions with observations, almost everything matches. “The deuterium is bang-on, The helium is looking good. ” says Brian Fields, an astrophysicist at the University of Illinois in the US. “Lithium is the one that’s off. And it is off by a lot. There is three times less lithium than there should be, a discrepancy that has been dubbed “the primordial lithium problem”.

As reported on

http://www.bbc.com/earth/story/20170220-the-cosmic-explosions-that-made-the-universe

But while early universe seems to lack lithium, the current cosmos has a surplus. Astronomers have found too much lithium on the surfaces of young stars, which formed relatively recently, as well as in meteors in the Solar System. There is about four times more lithium than what was supposedly made in the Big Bang, enough in the galaxy to weigh as much as 150 suns.

So, something has created excess lithium and then scattered it across the cosmos, where it eventually became incorporated into the our Solar System and, billions of years later, into the batteries of your mobile phone. The question is what?

Now new research shows solves both problems. And novae, the less famous cousins of supernovae take the credit for letting you read these words.

Big Bang, in your hand.

 

 

 

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31 comments on “Big Bang Universe origins, in your hand.

  1. It is interesting to know that most of the elements we know were made within the first three minutes after the big bang. I do not know too much about lithium, but it is pretty cool to think about how scientist have used a variety of elements to produce equipment that we use on our daily lives. I do not know what I would do without technology.

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  2. I think its really crazy how much we rely on lithium. Without the lithium battery almost everything would be gone. We use it so much and we don’t even realize what it can do to us once its taken away. Without the lithium I wouldn’t be able to post this.

    Jacob Holguin
    jake23@nmsu.edu

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  3. I think it is so amazing that we can discover new things that happened 13.8 billion years ago. as well as the fact that not just lithium, but most of the other elements we know are a result of the big bang. I think it is so cool to learn something new about how our universe and world came to be.

    rclovely@nmsu.edu

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  4. Interesting to read about lithium! I did not know about lithium and the its relation with astronomy and it is awesome how we need lithium for our devices they are dispensable in our daily lives.

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  5. It’s crazy that lithium has such an important role in our lives today. Not gonna lie, I love my iPhone so if we did not have lithium I would be pretty upset! It is also very interesting that lithium has started somewhere in our color system and has needed up being down here with us on Earth!

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  6. I never realized how important lithium is in our day to day lives. It will interesting to see what exactly caused the shift in its abundance.

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  7. It is interesting to know that something that was made in the universe is something that we use to charge our phones. I also find it odd but yet still interesting that lithium came from all the way up there in the solar system and it managed to make its way down to Earth and we use it for a whole different purpose than what it is used for in our universe. I’m excited to find out more information on this research.

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  8. It’s pretty incredible that something that was made billions of years ago is now essential to our global civilization. This article reminded me of a documentary I saw once about how humans are literally made out of star dust. Articles like these really change one’s perspective on how everything in our Universe is connected some way or another.

    Jose Franco Baquera
    jose5913@nmsu.edu

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  9. I found this article very interesting to read. It was interesting to know that there was 4 times more lithium created than there should be and scientists are still trying to figure out where it all went. I did not know that lithium was used as a medicine in the 19th century. It was also interesting to read the different hypothesis the scientists had about where the lithium could have gone.

    Val Ortega
    valorte@nmsu.edu

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  10. It is very interesting how an element, such as lithium, that was once not necessary for everyday life is now what we depend upon for our modern technology. It is also fascinating to see that the increase in the element stimulated research on how this occurred and allowed astronomers to stray from the belief that all of the elements were created at one with the Big Bang.

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  11. I never really acknowledged how important lithium truly is. To find out that lithium is in our smart phones, tablets, and laptops is very interesting to me because as i walk around campus i can get an estimate of how much lithium wanders around the university.

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  12. I never really knew that lithium was so crucial to us today, and I find it really surprising that now instead of having less than what we should there is way more. I think it is kind of cool that astronomers haven’t really figured out what the main cause of this extra lithium is either, so this means they are still in the middle of researching extensively.

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  13. I never truly acknowledged the importance of Lithium. It is not surprising, however, that there is a lack thereof, considering our consumer demands nowadays. A newly found surplus of lithium would surely help tend to this problem; of course, the question of why there is a surplus is important to ask, and important to keep in mind.

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  14. I like this post, it makes me think about the fact that we use technology everyday life and its all because of Lithium. If the universe didn’t produce it then I’m sure we’d all be more active and talk to each other more without phones and laptops.

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  15. I had no idea that Lithium was what is in rechargeable batteries. I think it’s crazy that scientists are able to find out exactly how much of each element and isotope should have been made. I also think it’s really cool that they can relate this back to the Big Bang.

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  16. It is pretty cool how scientists have utilized various elements found on Earth. Seems like lithium is important to our everyday lives. Brennen Chambers

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  17. I never put much thought on lithium and how much affect it has on our daily lives, as opposed to chemicals such as carbon and potassium. I think it’s interesting how younger stars seem to have much more lithium, compared to when the big bang happened.

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  18. It’s crazy to find out that our solar system has a surplus amount of lithium then we originally thought. I hope our planet keeps having a good amount of it, because let’s be real we all need our technology.

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  19. It is surprising to learn that the current cosmos has a surplus of lithium which is caused by novae, the less well-known relative of the super novae. Novae explosions happen on the surface of a white dwarf (formed when a low mass star has exhausted all its central nuclear fuel and is dying).

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  20. Very surprising to learn that the current cosmos has a surplus of lithium which is caused by novae, the less well-known relative of the super novae. According to this article novae explosions happen on the surface of a white dwarf and make lots of lithium which explains lithium’s large increase. A white dwarf is formed when a low mass star has exhausted all its central nuclear fuel and is dying.

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  21. It is very interesting to me how humans, over the years, have figured out different ways to use the elements on the earth. I wonder what the early experiments were and how many explosions humans accidentally had to go through to figure things out. Kudos to scientists – thanks for the iphone!

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