Where Atoms Come From:

"We Are All Star Stuff"


In my chapter of The Disappearing Spoon, by Sam Kean, the elements iron, neon, lead, iridium, and rhenium are discussed. The chapter is explaining how everything came to be what it is today. This includes the big bang. All of the elements mentioned in the chapter are essential elements that explain how we got here today. Looking at these elements and how they occurred is important to understanding the big bang and other scientific theories.

Iron is the largest element found in collapsed stars. Neon is also found in collapsed stars. Iron is also believed to make up most of our Earth's core. Iridium and Rhenium are believed to be found in meteors. These elements have been found in a world wide layer of both elements. Scientists believe that this is evidence of the meteor(s) that struck the Earth and made the dinosaurs extinct. The chapter also talks about how lead is dangerous to planets and stars. These all help prove the pressing question, "Where do atoms come from?"(Chap 4,pg 70).


Symbol / Fe
Atomic Number / 26
Atomic Mass / 55.85
Classification / Transition Metal
Electron Configuration / 1s^2 2s^2 2p^6 3s^2 3p^6 4s^2 3d^6
Period / 4
Group / 8
Found In / Iron is found in the Earth’s crust, comprising about 5.6% of the Earth’s crust making it one of the most copious elements of all metals. Iron is also believed to make up nearly all of the Earth’s core. Iron is found in the minerals hematite and magnetite.

Importance / Iron helps keep you alive. Iron is an essential part of the hemoglobin that is in your body. Hemoglobin is the matter in your body that helps oxygen flow to your red blood cells. Iron can also be used as a medicine for people who are severely anemic. Not having enough iron in your body can result in fatigue, weakness, dizziness, and headaches.

Discovered In / The use of iron has been around for at least 5000 years as archaeological research advises

Discovered By / The ancient Egyptians are believed to have first discovered iron.

Named After / The symbol “Fe” means Ferren, which is Latin for Iron.

Unique Characteristics / When fused with other elements the durability can be improved! (The Element Iron,n.d.)


Symbol / Ne
Atomic Number / 10
Atomic Mass / 20.18
Classification / Noble Gas
Electron Configuration / 1s^2 2s^2 2p^6

Period / 2

Group / 18

Found In / Neon gas is found in the Earths atmosphere, but not much of it. Only about .0018% of the Earths atmosphere is made up of neon. However, neon is the fourth most abundant element on Earth.

Importance / Neon is used in signs for advertising.

Discovered In / The U.K.

Discovered By / Sir William Ramsay

Named After / The Greek word Neos, which means new(The Element Neon,n.d.).

Unique Characteristics / On Jupiter the three elements Hydrogen, Helium, and Neon all make up Jupiter's core, becoming liquefied. Hydrogen however does not mix with with the Helium and Neon, so as the helium and neon sink to the core the atoms in neon become excited causing the neon to light up, causing neon rain(Chap. 4, pg 71).


Symbol / Pb

Atomic Number / 82

Atomic Mass / 207.2

Classification / Other Metal

Electron Configuration / 1s^2 2s^2 2p^6 3s^2 3p^6 4s^2 3d^10 4p^6 5s^2 4d^10 5p^6 6s^2 4f^14 5d^10 6p^2

Period / 6

Group / 14

Found In / A lot (one third) of lead is found in America's recycling system.

Importance / Lead is now known to be poisonous. Before, lead was used in pipes, which lead to death. Lead used to also be used a lot in paint, which now is illegal because of the poisonous paint chips children can consume.

Discovered In / Lead has been around since ancient times. The use of lead can be traced back into the Roman civilization when the Romans used lead in their pipes.

Discovered By / Ancient Romans

Named After / Comes from the Latin word for waterworks, plumbum.

Unique Characteristics / Lead is a very corrosion resistant material(The Element Lead,n.d.).


Symbol / Ir

Atomic Number / 77

Atomic Mass / 192.22

Classification / Transition Metal

Electron Configuration / 1s^2 2s^2 2p^6 3s^2 3p^6 4s^2 3d^10 4p^6 4d^10 5s^2 5p^6 4f^14 5d^7 6s^2

Period / 6

Group / 9

Found In / There is a thin layer in the Earth found all around the Earth, this layer was deposited in the Cretaceous period.

Importance / This element is typically found in asteroids and meteors. Finding this layer of iridium on the earth suggests that a large asteroid or meteor hit the Earth long ago. The evidence of Iridium on the Earth suggests how the dinosaurs went extinct.

Discovered In / London, in the residue of platinum.

Discovered By / Smithson Tennant

Named After / Stands for iris, which in Latin means rainbow.

Unique Characteristics / Iridium is the most corrosion resistant element known to man(The Element Iridium,n.d.).


Symbol / Re

Atomic Number / 75

Atomic Mass / 186.21

Classification / Transition Metals

Electron Configuration / 1s^2 2s^2 2p^6 3s^2 3p^6 4s^2 3d^10 4p^6 4d^10 5s^2 5p^6 4f^14 5d^7

Period / 6

Group / 7

Found In / Rhenium is only found in traces from platinum ore and in minerals such as columbite, gadolinite, and molybdenite.

Importance / Rhenium is used in flash lamps for photography!

Discovered In / Germany

Discovered By / Three German chemists named Ida Tacke-Noddack, Walter Noddack, and Otto Carl Berg.

Named After / From the Latin word Rhenus, which means Rhine River.

Unique Characteristics / Rhenium has a very high melting point-5767°F!(The Element Iridium,n.d.).


In this chapter of the book Sam Kean discusses the big bang and what the five elements, iron, neon, lead, iridium, and rhenium, have to do with it. Some elements were originally created in the stars when they collapsed. Others are found in meteorites in space and one's that struck the Earth long ago. One is even found on Jupiter in it's nucleus! All of these elements mentioned are essential evidence of the big bang and the evolution of Earth.


Office of Science Education.The Element Iridium. (n.d.). Retrieved January 15, 2016, from http://education.jlab.org/itselemental/ele077.html

Office of Science Education. (n.d.). The Element Iron. Retrieved January 15, 2016, from http://education.jlab.org/itselemental/ele026.html

Office of Science Education.The Element Lead. (n.d.). Retrieved January 15, 2016, from http://education.jlab.org/itselemental/ele082.html

Office of Science Education.The Element Neon. (n.d.). Retrieved January 15, 2016, from http://education.jlab.org/itselemental/ele010.html

The Element Rhenium. (n.d.). Retrieved January 15, 2016, from http://education.jlab.org/itselemental/ele075.html

Kean, S. (2010). The disappearing spoon: And other true tales of madness, love, and the history of the world from the periodic table of the elements. New York: Little, Brown and.