5. Hydrogen, helium, and lithium account for almost all the matter in the universe.

For most people, the periodic table of elements is a relic from grade school chemistry. But this seeming hodgepodge of numbers and letters comes to life when we put them in context. Think about sodium chloride, or table salt: sodium is a toxic metal and chloride is an odorous, lethal gas, but together, they season your meal. Then there’s water, comprised of elements that, by themselves, allow for combustion and are highly flammable, but together, constitute a life-sustaining substance that we drink everyday. 

In the beginning, there were only three elements. The Big Bang unleashed hydrogen, helium, and lithium into an ever-expanding universe. Hydrogen is the lightest and simplest of all the elements. It comprises 75 percent of your body mass and 90 percent of all matter in the universe.

A distant second to hydrogen is helium, a gaseous substance that, in addition to elevating vibrational frequency in the windpipe and vocal pitch, comprises 10 percent of the universe’s atoms. There’s far more of it than all of the other elements put together. A distant third in prevalence to hydrogen and helium is lithium, which comprises about one percent of all atoms in the universe.

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