Mercury - Chemistry's Jekyll and Hyde

Chemist Andrea Sella tell the story of mercury, explaining the significance of this element not just for chemistry, but also the development of modern civilisation.

The most beautiful and shimmering of the elements, the weirdest, and yet the most reviled.

Chemist Andrea Sella tell the story of Mercury, explaining the significance of this element not just for chemistry, but also the development of modern civilisation.

It's been a a source of wonder for thousands of years - why is this metal a liquid? and what is its contribution to art, from the Stone Age to the Renaissance?

We look at how Mercury is integral to hundreds of years of scientific discoveries, from weather forecasting to steam engines and the detection of atomic particles it has a key role.

However Mercury is highly toxic in certain forms and ironically the industrial processes it helped create have led to global pollution which now threatens fish, wildlife and ourselves.

We ask is it time to say goodbye to Mercury?

Available now

28 minutes

Broadcasts

Primo Levi's The Periodic Table

Major dramatisation of Primo Levi's element-themed stories about life, work and matter.