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No. 50: Mar-Apr 1987

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The Cosmological Atlantis

Current cosmological theory states that immediately after the Big Bang, the only elements existing in any significant quantities were hydrogen and helium. Yet, we observe stars today with various amounts of the heavier elements. How did the present stars, which are divided into Populations I and II, ever acquire their heavier elements? By thermonuclear synthesis, of course. The primordial hydrogen and helium condensed into primitive stars, now labelled Population III, where the first heavier elements were synthesized. The "ashes" of the Population-III stars provided the makings of the later stars with their heavier elements. However, no matter how hard astronomers have looked, no Population-III stars seem to be left anywhere -- not even far out in the universe, which we see in terms of light billions of years old. A vital "transititional form" is missing in astronomy's fossil record!

(Maran, Stephen P.; "Stellar Old- Timers," Natural History, 96:80, February 1987.)

From Science Frontiers #50, MAR-APR 1987. 1987-2000 William R. Corliss