Speaker: Professor Mike Edmunds (Cardiff University)
When the Universe was 300,000 years old, the only chemical elements with significant abundance were hydrogen, helium and a small amount of lithium. All the atoms of all the other elements in the Periodic Table have been synthesised during the 13.7 billion years since that time.
Research in physics and astronomy over the last 65 years has allowed us to identify the nuclear processes involved, including the importance of the humble neutron in the manufacture of the heavier elements.
We now have a good picture of the astronomical sites where elements such as the carbon, nitrogen, oxygen and iron in our bodies were made, including violent supernova explosions. It is a picture that appears almost, but not quite, complete.