We once knew an astronomy professor who'd say to his students, “You all were once inside stars.” And he wasn't lying. He explained that the universe started off as mostly hydrogen molecules, which gravity pulled together to make stars. The resulting fiery reactions created the heavier elements – including carbon, oxygen, and nitrogen – that ended up on Earth as the literal building blocks of life. So yes, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, we are stardust. Pretty cool stuff. Such lessons are illustrated in a planetarium show called Life: A Cosmic Story, narrated by Jodie Foster, who once played a rad space-traveling astrophysicist on the big screen herself in Contact. The film, which screens throughout the day, starts by entering a single leaf from a redwood tree, where we discover that all life shares a common ancestry. From there the film goes way back in time to the Big Bang -- the origin of the universe -- and describes the things that eventually made life possible. Two scenarios are then explored for the beginning of life on our planet, as well as the ways Earth has changed since then.
Jan. 2-June 30, 2012