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

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              Recent episodes (10)

              • Iron (Fe) - industrialisation, 01 Apr 2014

                Wed, 1 Apr 15

                Duration:
                32 mins

                Iron is the chemical element at the heart of steel, and by extension of industrialisation, so what does the collapse in iron ore prices say about the economic progress of China and India? Is the steel-making party over, or is a new one just about to begin? And will humanity, one day, stop digging this element up altogether?

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

              • 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. Plus 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.

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              • 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.

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              • 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.

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              • 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 - spawning icons from the Chrysler Building to the Harley Davidson. This colourful element is the key ingredient in stainless steel and leather. But the shiny metal 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?

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              • 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?

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              • 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.

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