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Are We Made of Stars? Controversial Study Finds Similarity Between Human Cells and Neutron Stars

Nov 03, 2016 04:46 AM EDT
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Scientists have found a mind-blowing "cosmic connection" between stars and humans. As per the new study conducted by soft condensed-matter physicist Greg Huber from U.C. Santa Barbara and nuclear physicist Charles Horowitz from Indiana University, human cell cytoplasms and neutron stars have a striking similar structure.

The study, published in the journal Physical Review, revealed that both have cells resembling helical "multistory parking garages."

Times of India noted that Huber investigated the biophysics of such shapes -- helices that connect stacks of evenly spaced sheets -- which was named as "Terasaki ramps" in 2014 by its discoverer Mark Terasaki.

Hubert thought that these can be found only in soft matter until he stumbled upon the work of Horowitz.

"I called Chuck and asked if he was aware that we had seen these structures in cells and had come up with a model for them," Huber explained in a press release. "It was news to him, so I realized then that there could be some fruitful interaction."

By using computer simulations, they have found that the "nuclear pasta" inside neutron star resembles the "Terasaki ramps," in human cells.

As mentioned by Big Think, neutron stars are born as a result of supernova explosions of massive stars. Despite their small size, they are incredibly dense, packing as much mass as two Suns into a star with the radius of just 10 kilometers.

"They see a variety of shapes that we see in the cell," Huber said. "We see a tubular network; we see parallel sheets. We see sheets connected to each other through topological defects we call Terasaki ramps. So the parallels are pretty deep."

Further examination also led to finding the difference between the two. As mentioned by IB Times, the difference lies in their scale which has a difference of a factor of a million. Pasta-like structures in neutron stars are based on protons and neutrons, which exist in the scale of femtometers, while those in human cells can be measured in the scale of nanometers.

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