Begin the Begin

This was the picture in my first ever post on this olde blog, so many (4.5) years ago. I post it again because it fits the theme, it's awesome, and as a symbol of the new year.

Opportunity spotted this almost pure iron/nickel meteorite near its landing spot, and so dubbed "Heat Shield Rock" by NASA wags. Lame. But the meteorite itself is incredible - consider that iron meteorites are far, far rarer than stony meteorites, for the simple reason that an iron meteorite only comes from one place: The core of a differentiated planet. This planet of course was destroyed, a small piece of its core sits on the surface of Mars, right beside Opportunity. The odds!

Longtime fellow redshirts might recall that I have a bit of a love affair with Iron - the chemical substance. Fe 26, yo. It is only created in one place - a star. Either in the core of a huge star and as that happens, the star soon explodes, spreading the Iron hither and yon. In that explosion even more Iron is created. And every bit of Iron you know of - including the Iron in your blood (think about that, man) - came from an exploding star. This Iron now scattered to the four corners coalesced with clouds of hydrogen and helium and other gases, which if lucky began spinning fast enough to create a new star, with new planets - all of which will have Iron cores. Iron lies at the root of all creation, and destruction.

For it's true! Stars happily chug along creating all the elements up to Iron, glowing and casting their life giving light across space, and onto many, many exoplanets and exomoons, but then as soon as a star produces Iron in its core, it's doomed. So Iron is the end of the fusion line, and literally poison to stars. And yet, on the other side of the scale, all the higher number Elements - like gold, silver, plutonium, uranium, etc - all decay, over time, to Iron, and in so doing cease being radioactive. In fact, a definition of "radioactive": anything higher than Iron on the Periodic Table. This decay will take trillions of years, but eventually there will be a time when all higher elements have decayed to Iron, and lo, that will truly be the Iron Age.

Iron is literally - and figuratively - the balance point of creation, of our very reality. Everything we know of is made up from Elements (which in turn are made up of combinations of electrons, neutrons, and protons, which in turn are made up of combinations of quarks, which in turn, current theory posits but has not proven, are made up of combinations of preons, and I'm sure there's some other turn to be discovered in the future), and Iron sits in supreme harmony among them, destroyer and creator, ultimately, of all.

Yay, Iron!

Also, kudos to you Opportunity - you rule. But let's also pour one out for Spirit:
NASA lied to the rovers, of course, the cold hearted bastids.

Bonus Spirit pic, snapped 3/8/04:
Earth, as seen from Mars by Spirit. I'm on "Team Spirit" in case you couldn't tell. Opportunity's awesome and all, but too obsessed with being cool and down with the "in crowd". Spirit would talk to goths, for example. Also understands mortality, as any good redshirt should.

And so with that, I begin again. As we all do, every day. But some days more so than others.

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