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Life of a hydrogen atom

  1. Jul 15, 2011 #1
    Hi all.

    I'm part of a science loving band from the UK and we're currently working on a new video. I'm a neuroscientist myself so I'm hoping some of you guys can help me fill in some knowledge gaps. :)

    I've always love the Sagan quote about everything we see simply being 'what hydrogen does when given 13.7 billion years'.

    So, for the introduction to the song (about the first 60s) I plan to provide some drawn stills of the journey of a hydrogen atom from it's origins at the beginning of the universe, and ultimately winding up in an organic molecule in the brain of one of the characters whom the subsequent part of the video follows.

    What I am interested in is some of the interesting things the hydrogen atom might go through between it's birth and now, and what the important characteristics of those interactions are.

    Here's some ideas I have, I'm hoping others here may have some ideas or refinements:

    Birth of the atom - around 300,000 yearsafter the big bang... hydrogen will be a single proton (i.e in a plasma state with no bound electron) ::please correct if wrong::

    In a star - I want the hydrogen to undergo fusion and become part of a heavier element, but I don't think there is any physical fission type process that could turn in back into hydrogen later on is there??? If not, would a single hydrogen atom ever survive in a star without undergoing fusion?

    Becoming part of a complex molecule in space - Need an example of some of the earliest molecules

    Ending up in the molecules of rocks which acrete to form a planet

    Becoming part of a water molecule (there must be a chemical reaction to strip it from the rock and then bind it to an oxygen?)

    Being stripped from the oxygen and ending up as part of a larger organic molecule, ultimately ending up in the brain of our main character.

    This is about where I am at. Any input would be invaluable to increasing the scientific accuracy of the story.

    Many thanks
    GK. :)
  2. jcsd
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