At the beginning of the universe there was only energy, immensely hot energy in an expanding universe consisting of time and space. It is only after some initial cooling that the 4 fundamental forces themselves started to come into being, after which what we know as particles started to form. After sufficient cooling these particles started to combine into the first atoms: Hydrogen and Deuterium, along with some Helium nuclei (incomplete atoms).
One of the 4 fundamental forces is gravity. It was responsible for condensing clouds of matter (as we call everything made out of atoms) so much, that they started to collapse upon themselves and became the first stars. Within these stars, largely consisting of Hydrogen, pairs of Hydrogen atoms were fused into Helium. This is why we call this element Helium because it was first found to exist on the sun. Only later was it also discovered on earth too.
But the element Helium was named after our star. Known as Ra to the Egyptians, or Ahura Mazda by the Persians.
Helium is the first compound element, and the first of the group called the noble gases. This name was chosen because this group (column in the periodic table) is chemically unreactive under conditions that favor human life. Since Helium was among the first-born atoms, it is very abundant in the universe. Though rare on earth, Helium’s universal abundance is second only to that of Hydrogen.
One can imagine that at the reality of a larger than primal atom, the road is open for more complex atoms, and so it was: in the heavier stars, thermonuclear fission processes produced heavier elements still. In fact, there is not a single heavier atom that was not created at some point in time in some star. All matter is stardust. All heavier atoms are the product of nuclear fission in stars.
We ourselves are the children of stars become aware.
It is with Helium that this process of atom creation takes its very first step: forming an atom with 2 protons, over twice as heavy as the primal atom Hydrogen. It is a strange coincidence that so many human cultures worshipped the sun as a creator god: the sun being our star is de facto one of the many creators of matter, in its shining we see the life-giving light: a waste product of this process.
Now imagine ourselves the size of a planet, listening to the sounds of this process of matter creation. We are become huge cosmic ears now, listening to the sounds of the sun.
It is inspired by such an imaginary listening that Elements 2: Helium was composed by Oscar van Dillen. After having listened to the NASA “sound recordings” of the sun, this original composition was pondered upon and created.
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