What happens to Your Atoms after you die The Immortal Infinite Journey

there are about seven point seven billion people living on earth today but almost 14 times that number or over 100 billion people have died since the dawn of humanity what happened to all these individuals since the law of conservation of matter says that matter cannot be created or destroyed all their atoms have to be still around right what if I told you that the atoms of your lost loved ones have become not only part of you and the world around us but are also on a fantastical journey across the universe right now what am I talking about and how is this possible that's coming up right now about 500 people will have died during the course of you watching this video almost two people every second what will happen to them the two most common human practices for disposing of dead bodies is burial underground or cremation what happens to our atoms in each case let's look at that shall we the body is made up of about 60% water 20% fat 15% proteins 2% carbohydrates and 2% salts and minerals as well as 1% other stuff like oxygen gases and vitamins etc the majority of the molecules in your body are in the form of h2o water this will either evaporate out of the body and into the atmosphere or be leached out into the ground the rate of this leaching depends on the temperature and conditions of the soil and the atmosphere to which the body is exposed the vast majority of water even if it is in a form of liquid water will enter Earth's water cycle or it will be eventually heated into steam go up into the clouds come down as rainwater much of this will eventually end up in rivers and lakes and subsequently in your drinking water your body will take this water and use it for various things like incorporating it into its cells use it to regulate temperature and maintain other bodily functions some of the rain water will be absorbed by plants that water will be used in the process of photosynthesis where the water and carbon dioxide along with sunlight are involved in a chemical reaction that produces carbohydrates and oxygen you and other fellow human beings will breathe this action produced by plants to sustain your lives and what about the carbohydrates produced from the water and photosynthesis you and your fellow animals will eat it in the form of fruits and vegetables these carbohydrates are eaten by you and other animals and guess what in the process of metabolizing all the carbohydrate food from plants you will produce the food for plants carbon dioxide and water and the cycle repeats itself okay so this explains what happens to the h2o in your body what about all your soft tissues what happens to these your soft tissues are composed of carbohydrates fats and proteins and these all get metabolized with the help of about 100 trillion bacteria that live in your body oh wait where did all these bacteria come from and why aren't they eating your body now they've been living in your body all along mostly in your gut you're small and large intestines your body has a very robust immune system which keeps these hundred trillion bacteria in your body and check however once you die your immune system stops working so your bacteria now have a field day consuming all the tissues in your body the bacteria metabolize all the soft tissues and use it for energy and reproduction you can think of this as a slow burn because eventually all the molecules that are digested by bacteria will eventually turn into water and carbon dioxide the same molecules that are formed by burning other gases besides carbon dioxide and water vapor are also producing proteins in your body for example have nitrogen atoms and these are metabolized into nitrogen oxides and ammonia which by the way are potent greenhouse gases nitrogen oxides are about 300 times more potent a carbon dioxide for example in the atmosphere now as these bacteria are metabolizing once the oxygen begins to run out then anaerobic bacteria go to work these bacteria don't need action to metabolize your tissues but they produce methane hydrogen sulfide and ammonia as byproducts the smelly guests they're also powerful greenhouse gases these eventually escape the body and become part of the atmosphere so when you go outside and smell something funny in the air it is possible that you are inhaling atoms that came from your great-grandma other atoms and molecules in your body are released as nutrients into the underlying soil every kilogram of dry body mass eventually releases 32 grams of nitrogen 10 grams of phosphorus 4 grams of potassium and a gram of magnesium into the soil these are actually used as fertilizers by the plants surrounding the burial site the decomposition in general is beneficial for the surrounding ecosystem now what about cremation what happens to your body after cremation when we're cremated the majority of atoms in your body which are hydrogen carbon nitrogen oxygen and sulfur are turned into gases due to the high heat of the burning process these gases enter the atmosphere in the form of water vapor carbon dioxide nitrogen oxides and sulfur oxides but as you probably know several kilograms of you will be in the form of ash left over from the formation process and how much does this ash weigh an interesting statistic is that your ashes weigh about the same as your birth weight so ironically you go out with the same amount of mass as you came in with in life and life recycles itself and what are these ashes composed of well here's a chart of the analysis on these ashes phosphate and calcium make up the majority but this is understandable because phosphate and calcium make up the bones in your body so that's where these atoms are coming from what happens to these ashes well these ashes are likely to make their way eventually to soil where they will be incorporated into the structure of plants and then these plants will be eaten by animals and humans end up back in your body eventually tiny bits of you will end up in your great grandchildren's morning cereal or hamburger you really will live on in the sustaining of life on this planet but there is one big exception your body also has a tiny amount of radioactive elements a few of your elements will spontaneously fission in the form of radioactive decay into other elements before entering the biosphere so for example radioactive potassium will turn into calcium tiny amounts of thorium and uranium in your body will eventually become lead but along with this decay some atoms of helium will also be formed or its gravity isn't strong enough to hold helium to our planet so tiny bits of what was once you will float off into space some of this helium will be captured by the Sun and Jupiter since their gravity is huge but a little will escape the solar system and drift off into the stars and into the universe so some of your atoms are in for an exciting journey for ever floating to the farthest reaches of the universe until the end of time you and your family can take some comfort that science says that every single vibration of every single atom of you will always be around and will be around for as long as the universe continues to exist [Music] you