crab nebula
The Crab Nebula is a supernova remnant, all that remains of a tremendous stellar explosion Image Credit: SOURCE: NASA

Are you and I made of stardust?

Click start to play today’s crossword and find out.

Today’s puzzle may seem like you’re going back to chemistry class, since it is all about native metal elements. But there is a whimsical, even cosmic, aspect to it.

As part of its ‘We are stardust’ exhibition, the American Museum of Natural History states on its website: “Every atom of oxygen in our lungs, of carbon in our muscles, of calcium in our bones, of iron in our blood – was created inside a star before Earth was born.”

Common elements, like carbon and nitrogen, are made in the cores of most stars. However, heavier elements, like iron, are created at the end of the lifecycle of massive stars during a supernova event.

A star that explodes – or a supernova – plays a significant role in distributing elements throughout the universe. At the point of explosion, it propels elements and debris into space. These materials, transported by stellar winds, became part of gigantic interstellar clouds. The sun was formed within one such cloud, wherein some of the heavy elements condensed to form the Earth.

So, American poet Walt Whitman wasn’t just speaking figuratively in his poem, Leaves of Grass, when he wrote: “I believe a leaf of grass is no less than the journeywork of the stars.”

Some 20 elements occur in Nature in a pure or nearly pure form and the native metals are one of the three groups of native elements. How many can you name, and how much do you know about their qualities?

Play today’s crossword and tell us if you got the answers right at