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Science
THE MATERIAL WORLD
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Thursday 16:30-17:00
Quentin Cooper reports on developments across the sciences. Each week scientists describe their work, conveying the excitement they feel for their research projects.
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LISTEN AGAINListen 30 min
Listen to 19 January
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QUENTIN COOPER
Quentin Cooper
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Thursday 19 January 2006
A 3D picture of a zeolite
Zeolites have a porous, crystalline structure

Benjamin Franklin's Legacy

Inventor Benjamin Franklin was born nearly 300 years ago on the 17th of January 1706. His early career was in printing but when he retired at 42 he turned to science.
 
His famous experiments with kites helped prove that lightning is naturally-occuring electricity and led to the invention of the lightning conductor.  His interests were broad, as he attempted to understand the weather, ants and sight defects. 

So what is his legacy?  Frank James is Professor of the History of Science at the Royal Institution and Dr Page Talbot is the associate director of the Benjamin Franklin tercentenary celebrations.  They join Quentin to explain why Franklin is still important.

Zeolites

There may be zeolite crystals in your home, in washing powder or cat litter.  They are soft white minerals made of aluminium, silicon and oxygen.  Their crystalline structure is like molecular scaffolding and their large surface area and cage-like nature makes them useful for catalysis and storage.

Armenia has lots of natural zeolites and researchers are using them to help clean up nuclear waste.  Chris Rhodes is an independent energy consultant using zeolites to sieve out caesium and strontium.

Quentin Cooper also talks to Dervishe Salih, from the Davy Faraday Research Lab about how zeolites can be grown and analysed in the lab.
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