Hunting the Elements

Description from PBS website: Where do nature’s building blocks, called the elements, come from? They’re the hidden ingredients of everything in our world, from the carbon in our bodies to the metals in our smartphones. To unlock their secrets, David Pogue, the lively host of NOVA’s popular Making Stuff series and technology correspondent of The New York Times, spins viewers through the world of weird, extreme chemistry: the strongest acids, the deadliest poisons, the universe’s most abundant elements, and the rarest of the rare — substances cooked up in atom smashers that flicker into existence for only fractions of a second.

Why are some elements like platinum or gold inert, while others like phosphorus or potassium are violently explosive? Why are some vital to every breath we take while others are lethal toxins that killed off their discoverers such as Marie Curie? As he digs for answers, Pogue reveals the story of the elements to be a rich stew simmering with passion, madness and obsessive scientific rivalry. Punctuated by surprising and often alarming experiments, this program takes NOVA on a roller-coaster ride through nature’s hidden lab and the compelling stories of discovery that revealed its secrets. [JLH]

[Hunting the Elements is a 2-hour NOVA special which aired in April 2012 on PBS. Many American readers emailed me about the show. We, in Canada, cannot watch PBS shows online — don’t get me started — but the DVD has just been released and I have reserved a copy at our local library. It will be my summer pleasure to watch a NOVA show focused on the elements. Those in the US may be able to watch it online.

Your feedback about the show would be welcomed — email Jean Hein,]