Elements

Elements

A close look at chemical elements, the basic building blocks of the universe. Where do we get them, what do we use them for and how do they fit into the economy?

  • Updated:
    Weekly
  • Episodes available:
    Indefinitely help

Recent episodes (10)

  • Iron & Manganese (Fe, Mn) - Steel-making, 24 Mar 2015

    Wed, 25 Mar 15

    Duration:
    32 mins

    The two key ingredients that enabled the mass production of steel. We travel to Sheffield - the birthplace of modern steelmaking - to get up close to the technological mid-wife, a Bessemer converter. And we visit the modern Forgemasters steelworks, to get a taste of just how hard it is to produce unbreakable parts for nuclear power stations and oil rigs.

    Download 15MB (right click & "save target as / link as")

  • Iron (Fe) - the Industrial Revolution, 18 Mar 2015

    Wed, 18 Mar 15

    Duration:
    33 mins

    In the first of three programmes about iron, Justin Rowlatt explores two moments in industrial history that transformed this most abundant of metal elements into the key material out of which modern life is constructed. And they both took place right here in the British Isles.

    Download 15MB (right click & "save target as / link as")

  • Technetium (Tc), 11 Mar 2015

    Wed, 11 Mar 15

    Duration:
    32 mins

    Technetium is essential for medical imaging, yet supplies of this short-lived manmade element are far from guaranteed. We see a technetium scan in progress and a cow being milked, and hear the yarn of the 70-year chemistry wild goose chase sparked by this mysterious radioactive metal.

    Download 15MB (right click & "save target as / link as")

  • Fluorine (F), 04 Mar 2015

    Wed, 4 Mar 15

    Duration:
    43 mins

    Itself a ferocious yellow gas, fluorine is also the key building block for a string of other gases that pose a threat to mankind - from the ozone-depleting CFCs to potent greenhouse gases. We track fluorine from the mine to its incredible array of final uses. And we find out why an exploding Mercedes car has caused a trans-Atlantic chemistry tiff.

    Download 20MB (right click & "save target as / link as")

  • Chromium (Cr), 25 Feb 2015

    Thu, 26 Feb 15

    Duration:
    34 mins

    Chromium is the metal of modernity - the key ingredient in stainless steel. But this chemical element also has a dark side - one brought to public attention by Erin Brockovich.

    Download 16MB (right click & "save target as / link as")

  • Nickel (Ni) & Rhenium (Re), 18 Feb 2015

    Wed, 18 Feb 15

    Duration:
    34 mins

    Nickel is the metal that made the jet age possible, not to mention margarine and bicycle sprockets. We visit Rolls Royce to discover the incredible materials science that this chemical element and its super-alloys have driven.

    Download 16MB (right click & "save target as / link as")

  • Uranium (U), 08 Oct 2014

    Wed, 8 Oct 14

    Duration:
    42 mins

    The fuel for nuclear power stations, uranium splits environmentalists down the middle. Is carbon-free nuclear a green energy option? Or are its global warming credentials trumped by the 10,000-year question of how to deal with its radioactive waste?

    Download 19MB (right click & "save target as / link as")

  • Lead (Pb), 01 Oct 2014

    Wed, 1 Oct 14

    Duration:
    39 mins

    Lead is the sweetest of poisons, blamed for everything from mad Roman emperors to modern-day crime waves. Yet a lead-acid battery is still what gets your car going in the morning. So have we finally learnt how to handle this heavyweight element?

    Download 18MB (right click & "save target as / link as")

  • Caesium (Cs), 24 Sep 2014

    Wed, 24 Sep 14

    Duration:
    39 mins

    The atomic clock runs on caesium, and has redefined the very meaning of time. But it has also introduced a bug into timekeeping that affects everything from computerised financial markets to electricity grids to satellite navigation to the Greenwich Meridian.

    Download 18MB (right click & "save target as / link as")

  • Bromine (Br), 17 Sep 2014

    Wed, 17 Sep 14

    Duration:
    29 mins

    Famed as an anti-aphrodisiac, bromine's biggest use is actually in dousing flames in your home, not in your heart. Bromine-based fire retardants are found in everything from your sofa to your radio. But this chemical element has also sparked a series of health scares. So is bromine something to worry about, or is it just the victim of "chemophobia"?

    Download 14MB (right click & "save target as / link as")

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