Guest Column: Rock Solid

BY KEITH TUCKER

Special to The Enterprise

The hardest thing known to us is a diamond, which is all carbon. Pencil lead is also all carbon, but it’s s one of the softest materials, so how can it be both soft and hard and be the same element? It’s all about how the carbon atoms are put together. It’s like you can take two identical people and one can turn out to be a great human being and the other can be a no-account bum.

Not that pencil lead isn’t nice but try giving your soon to be wife a graphite rock engagement ring and see how that goes over. It’s all about what happens throughout its life. One was created under heat and pressure and the other just had it easy. So how many elements are in a human body. I bet most of us have no idea which element makes up 60 percent of our body weight.

Five elements make up about 98 percent of what we are and unless you’ve ingested something odd, there are 25 elements total in a normal human body. The element oxygen is number one. Here’s why. We are 60 percent water and water is 88 percent oxygen by weight. So, then there’s carbon, nitrogen, hydrogen and calcium for a total of 98 percent. That other 2 percent has some really great stuff. Like gold and iron.

What most people don’t know is that diamonds are not really forever. The crystal structure of the carbon atoms will revert back to graphite over a few million years. There’s something about oxygen atoms that causes most of our health problems. They like to break down into other things. For example, in the sun, hydrogen turns into helium, but it takes a nuclear furnace to make that happen. Most of us have heard of free radicals and how they cause health problems.

Oxygen reacts with other elements in our body and does to us what it does when it oxidizes steel into rust. It is an element that just loves to mess with other elements, and it gives up some material that goes off all by itself looking for trouble.

There is something called an isotope that when an atom gains or loses material it gets a different classification. So, oxygen would not make a good wife because she likes to play around with every other element she comes in contact with. Just like in real life, some of them really like it. Hence the byproduct of this interaction often leads to unfortunate results. Who would have thought that? So, keep your free radicals under control through good healthy living and eating right.

Editor’s note: Keith Tucker is a Greenfield resident and owner of The Marble Shop.

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