Take a look under your bed or run your finger along the top of your bookshelf and you’ll find something miraculousDUST! Yes, dust. What makes it so fantastic? Well, when you look closely,  it’s a kaleidoscope of brilliant colors, one-of-a-kind combinations of the fragments of our lives. But it gets even cooler: those dust bunnies are made of the same stuff that created our solar system, our planet, and us!

In this seemingly complex world, it really all comes down to dust.

So, grab your broom and your dust rag, we’re going on an adventure that takes us from the unique dust fingerprint of our own homes to the origins of the stars!

Image: Image from NASA of newborn stars in a cloud of dust

“Rho Ophiuchi dark cloud from NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope. Called “Rho Oph” by astronomers, it’s one of the closest star-forming regions to our own solar system. Located near the constellations Scorpius and Ophiuchus, the nebula is about 407 light-years away from Earth.”
Source: NASA // JPL-Caltech // Harvard-Smithsonian CfA

Dust: it’s everywhere. These collections of particles are the bane of every clean-house-lovers existence, but dust is way more complicated and wonderful than we give it credit for! Let’s look a little closer.

The star of our show today is more than just a grey film on the surfaces of our lives. It is a complex combination of particles that range from our dead skin cells to the unique signature of the landscape around us to even the stuff that made long-dead stars.

Dust is home to microscopic mites, the unique fingerprint of our homes, and is even the key to life on this planet (and maybe on others)! It’s a great example of how our appreciation of the world can get a whole lot deeper when we just look a little closer. You’ll never look at the dust bunnies under your bed or cleaning the same way again!

Let’s get into this magical world of dust on this planet and see how we really are made of the same stuff as stars with a great video from one of our favorite places for knowledge and insight, TED-Ed!

Via: TED-Ed 1

Looking at those dust bunnies a little differently now?

Yep, we are, too! Seriously, the next time you go dust your TV or take a broom to the corners of your room, just think about the microcosm of unique particles that call that clump of dust home. Think about how incredible it is that your dust is a unique fingerprint of you and your lifestyle!

So, what about that cosmic dust they mentioned? How does dust become a planet that can support life (and make dust bunnies) all on their own?

Though it’s one of the great mysteries of our universe, scientists are getting a better understanding of the forces that turn tiny particles of dust into suns, planets, and entire solar systems!

Remember that age-old experiment where you rub a balloon on something and get it to stick to your head using static electricity? Well, something very similar (but on a much smaller scale) has the power to turn space dust into solar systems!

Let’s head back out with TED-Ed for this next part of our adventure. This next short video will leave you with a much greater application of the little forces that have added up to you and I being here today! Take a look…

Via: TED-Ed 2

If you want to lose yourself in some incredible topic that will leave you feeling a whole lot smarter, go check out TED-Ed’s full library. They create beautiful, short, and engaging videos on topics ranging from science to classic literature, technology to natural wonders. Go give some of their content a watch!

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It’s the little things.

When was the last time you stopped to appreciate the little things around you? Whether that’s the dust on your cabinets or the forest floor beneath your feet, our world is made so much richer when we take a moment to pause and get curious about what’s happening right in front of us.

What would it take for us to act on this curiosity more often? What if we channeled our inner kid who can endlessly ask “Why?” or “How” about the world? (You know this kid, the get a little exhausting on long car rides.) If we asked ourselves questions like; “Where did these buttons on my shirt come from?”, “How did this computer I’m sitting at come to be?”, “Where is that butterfly headed?”, “Why do I drink tea in the morning?

Learning the answers to these kinds of questions can be a little gift. Answers like these give us a greater understanding of the world around us. And maybe, they can even help connect the mundane parts of our lives to a wider more beautiful and complex world.

Think about how humbling it is to think that dust, ever so much like the stuff found under our beds, grew into the planet we now call home!

So, the next time you find yourself staring at something mundane around you, ask yourself a question about it and go seek out the answer. You may leave that little adventure with a much greater appreciation of the beautiful complexity of our world and get to walk around with just a little bit more awe in your day!

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Stay beautiful & keep laughing!

-Liesl

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Notes:

  1. TED-Ed. “What Is Dust Made of? – Michael Marder.” YouTube, 2020, www.youtube.com/watch?v=P21a5Uty-uc. Accessed 7 Apr. 2020.
  2. TED-Ed. “The Dust Bunnies That Built Our Planet – Lorin Swint Matthews.” YouTube, 2020, www.youtube.com/watch?v=G6qREv4eTRM&t=2s. Accessed 7 Apr. 2020.

Liesl Ulrich-Verderber

COO of Ever Widening Circles, Founder of EWCed

Since 2015, Liesl has been a writer, editor, and the COO at Ever Widening Circles. She is a life-long camera-toting traveler, a global story seeker, and an aspiring—but more often floundering—outdoor enthusiast. She can be found on Instagram @Liesl.UV