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Supernovae are way cooler than milk mustaches

May 20, 2010 | 10:17 am

Nasastars Yawn. Yes, yes, dietary calcium is important. Got it. But how about a new message to this effect?  Maybe one that uses splashy images of supernovae and that offers a few lessons on the origins of the universe and its elements?

Now's the time. As Los Angeles Times staff writer Eryn Brown notes in this article, Supernova is rich in calcium:

"Scientists have identified a type of supernova, or exploding star, that produces unusually large amounts of calcium — enough perhaps to explain the abundance of that element in the universe and in our bones."

Here's an explanation, a very thorough explanation, of bone development and structure from, appropriately, the National Space Biomedical Research Institute.

And more from the supernovae story:

Scientists have known for decades that supernovae created the stuff our universe is made of, including the carbon in our cells, the iron in our blood and — yes — the calcium in our bones. This is part of the reason researchers study supernovae.

Now that's interesting. Maybe even reassess-your-diet inspirational. Isn't that the goal? (Besides, those thick milk mustaches are beginning to seem tired and, by now, a bit gross.  What? Famous people don't have napkins?)

Here's an explainer of bone structure and function (part of a larger primer), from the American Society for Bone and Mineral Research:

In addition to its mechanical functions, the bone is a reservoir for minerals. The bone stores 99% of the body's calcium and 85% of the phosphorus. It is very important to keep the blood level of calcium within a narrow range. If blood calcium gets too high or too low, the muscles and nerves will not function. In times of need, for example, during pregnancy, calcium can be removed from the bones.

And more on dietary calcium -- how much, from which foods, etc. -- from Medline Plus. (No lofty references to supernovae though. Pity.)

-- Tami Dennis

Photo: Want to be as one with the universe? Get your calcium. (This is an artist's impression, released by NASA, of how the very early universe might have looked.) 

Credit: AFP / Adolf Schaller for STScI 

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