Gold Rush: A Song of Stars and Celestial Fireworks
Once upon a time, not so long ago, many hopefuls left their lives and loves to wander the craggy wilderness of northern California. Here they sifted through the dirt and silt of the valleys and the clear, pebble-strewn streams of the hills and mountains. Their hopes were pinned on the chance of good fortune, their dreams as gilded as they hoped their pockets soon would be. This was the Gold Rush, and for some, it was a time of plenty.
Today, we live in a gilded era.
Jewelry-lovers rest easy knowing that delicately crafted golden creations are a mere shopping stop away, deals and bargains at the tips of our fingers as they tap the screens of our smart phones. But truly, the origin of this jewelry isn’t a lavishly-appointed studio or a beautifully furnished store: it’s the star-strewn heavens themselves.
In the southern constellation of Hydra, 130 million light-years away, a kilonova produces a mass of gold 40 to 100 times the size of Earth, and blows it into space. This kilonova, or a collision of two dead stars, results in a cosmic firework show witnessed not by cheering crowds but by rare and lucky astronomers. The gold created in this explosion will spend eons sinking into new stars and melding with planets-
maybe, some day, even with our own.
Astronomers believe that this is how most of the precious metals in the universe are created. To those who are inclined to dream, it paints a pretty picture of a vast universe strewn with luxe heavenly trails of gold and silver, crossing and circling stars that glitter like diamonds, and planets that glow in their deep jewel tones.
It becomes easy to picture this celestial jewelry box as a larger version of the opulent box you have sitting on your bureau. It’s filled with your precious possessions. Your new ruby necklace, your grandmother’s diamond wedding ring. But close your eyes for a moment, if you will, and picture something bigger. Our planet is a jewel set in the elegant tiara of the universe. We are living inclusions in this jewel, always looking to the heavens, lucky to exist in this time of plenty. Every piece you hold near and dear isn’t simply a product of time, effort, or money. It’s millions of golden atoms that have traveled light-years through time and space to rest gracefully on your fingers, dangle from your earlobes, drape around your neck. Your ring is infused with the love of your partner, your necklace
the product of a kind friend.
We are so small, and they mysteries of the universe are so large. But at the end of the day as we move through our respective lives, it’s comforting to know that all that glitters really is gold.