Friday, July 13, 2012

Hunting the Elements (PBS NOVA)

Where do nature's building blocks, called the elements, come from? They're the hidden ingredients of everything in our world, from the carbon in our bodies to the metals in our smartphones. To unlock their secrets, David Pogue spins viewers through the world of weird, extreme chemistry: the strongest acids, the deadliest poisons, the universe’s most abundant elements, and the rarest of the rare - substances cooked up in atom smashers that flicker into existence for only fractions of a second.

Why are some elements like platinum and gold inert, while others like phosphorus and potassium are violently explosive? Why are some vital to every breath we take while others are lethal toxins that kill off their discoverers, as with Marie Curie? As he digs for answers, Pogue reveals the story of the elements to be a rich stew simmering with passion, madness, and obsessive scientific rivalry. Punctuated by surprising and often alarming experiments, Hunting the Elements takes viewers on a roller-coaster ride through nature's hidden lab and the compelling stories of discovery that revealed its secrets.

Related Links:
Chemistry: A Volatile History

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