We Are Solar Powered Stardust

John Cousins
February 7, 2023
3 min read

We are all made of stardust. This statement may sound like a poetic metaphor, but it’s a scientific fact.

The elements that make up our bodies, such as carbon, nitrogen, and oxygen, were formed in the hearts of stars through nuclear fusion. But the connection between stardust and our bodies doesn’t end there. The energy that powers our bodies also comes from stars: specifically from the sun.

I will make the case that there is no real difference between a living planet and a living cell. There isn’t a distinct line separating the two. Biochemistry naturally develops from geochemistry.

From this perspective, it makes sense that we can’t tell ancient rocks apart from biological life. A living planet produces life on Earth, and separating the two would require breaking a continuity.

One starts to question whether biology is now home to all of the most intriguing physics questions.

Through photosynthesis, plants and algae use energy from the sun to convert carbon dioxide and water into oxygen and glucose. This glucose is then used as a source of energy for plants or algae and animals that eat them, like us.

Photo by Kumiko SHIMIZU on Unsplash

Photosynthesis is the basis for nearly all life on Earth, as it is the primary way energy from the sun is converted into a form that living organisms can use.

In addition to providing the energy that fuels our food, the sun’s energy also plays a direct role in powering our bodies through cellular respiration.

This process occurs in the mitochondria, the “powerhouses” of our cells. Cellular respiration converts the energy from food into a usable form, specifically adenosine triphosphate (ATP).

Life is energy conversion.

While the energy from the sun powers the processes that keep us alive, it also shapes the very atoms that make up our bodies.

The fusion reactions in the stars’ hearts, like our sun, create the heavy elements, like carbon and oxygen, that are necessary for the formation of life as we know it.

Photo by Jonathan Borba on Unsplash

The same energy that powers our bodies also creates the atoms that make up those bodies.

So the next time you take a deep breath or take a bite of food, remember that you’re not just consuming energy from the sun, you’re also made of stardust forged in the hearts of stars.

So it’s a recursive system in which we participate.

The sun is the giver of life and the creator of life itself. It’s a beautiful reminder of our connection to the universe around us and the cosmic forces that shape our existence.

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John Cousins
Author, Entrepreneur, & Teacher

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