BBC | Chemistry: A Volatile History- Discovering the Elements
Posted by doctore0 on January 22, 2010
Aired January 21, 2010 on BBC Four
The explosive story of chemistry is the story of the building blocks that make up our
entire world – the elements. From fiery phosphorous to the pure untarnished lustre of
gold and the dazzle of violent, violet potassium, everything is made of elements –
the earth we walk on, the air we breathe, even us. Yet for centuries this world was
largely unknown, and completely misunderstood.
In this three-part series, professor of theoretical physics Jim Al-Khalili traces the
extraordinary story of how the elements were discovered and mapped. He follows in the
footsteps of the pioneers who cracked their secrets and created a new science,
propelling us into the modern age.
Just 92 elements made up the world, but the belief that were only four – earth, fire,
air and water – persisted until the 19th Century. Professor Al-Khalili retraces the
footsteps of the alchemists who first began to question the notion of the elements in
their search for the secret of everlasting life.
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