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Elements

Podcast Elements
Podcast Elements

Elements

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Episodios disponibles

5 de 65
  • Obscure Elements
    In the final programme in our Elements series, Justin Rowlatt looks at the rarest and oddest members of the periodic table. Selenium, bismuth, molybdenum, antimony, rhenium, hafnium, zirconium, tellurium, thallium, barium. What are they? And what are they used for? Minor metals merchant Anthony Lipmann explains how he made a fortune tracking down a stockpile of one toxic element sufficient to kill millions of people - and sold it to Japanese camera manufacturers. We set chemistry professor Andrea Sella a musical challenge to round off his elucidation of the periodic table, going out with a pyrotechnic bang. And cosmologist Martin Rees explains why 85% of the matter in the universe isn't made up of chemical elements at all, but instead of "dark matter", whatever that is. (Picture: Elements series planning board; Credit: Laurence Knight/BBC)
    9/28/2016
    30:00
  • Gold (Au)
    Why do we value this practically useless metal so highly? And does it bring out the worst in human nature? In a second look at this most coveted of metals, Justin Rowlatt hears both sides of the age-old argument. Swiss investor and gold enthusiast Marc Faber explains why he keeps gold bars tucked away at his home in rural Thailand. Meanwhile financial advisor and Big Picture blogger Barry Ritholtz teases goldbugs for succumbing to what he considers their very human irrational tendencies. Plus, we hear from Bandana Tewari of Vogue magazine about why her home country of India will always be besotted by the bling of gold. And here's a bonus for what is the penultimate programme in the Elements series. This podcast contains 10 gold-themed songs. If you think you can name some of them, then tweet your guesses to Justin at @BBCJustinR. Get them all right, and Justin might even give you a prize. (Picture: Indian model sports gold jewellery for Diwali; Credit: Noel Seelam/AFP/Getty Images)
    9/21/2016
    29:59
  • Thorium (Th)
    This radioactive metal holds the promise of thousands of years of energy for the world. But is it really any cleaner or safer than traditional uranium-based nuclear power? Chemistry Professor Andrea Sella of University College London takes the helm, as he speaks to no less than three nuclear physicists in his quest to discover whether thorium will deliver that godlike bolt of electricity, or just remain a nebulous dream. Prof Bob Cywinski of the University of Sheffield is a fan, whereas Dr Arjun Makhijani of the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research is decidedly not. Meanwhile India presses ahead with its now 60-year-old thorium energy programme, as former nuclear chief Anil Kakodkar explains. (Picture: Human hand holding lightning; Credit: Sergey Nivens/Thinkstock)
    9/16/2016
    29:58
  • Platinum group (Pt, Pd, Ru, Rh, Os, Ir)
    Six extremely rare metals that clean your car exhaust and turbocharge industrial chemistry, but which are also the focus of a violent power struggle in South Africa. Presenter Laurence Knight heads to Johnson Matthey, a company that pioneered the car catalytic converter in the 1970s, to find out how they work and to watch the kind of emissions test that Volkswagen cheated. Andrea Sella of University College London makes a piece of one of these precious metals pop, and explains why platinum crucibles are the bees knees of nineteenth century chemistry. And the BBC's Vumani Mkhize reports from brutal fight between two unions for supremacy over what is the world's biggest source of platinum group metals. (Picture: Car exhaust; Credit: ruigsantos/Thinkstock)
    9/7/2016
    30:00
  • Arsenic (As)
    The macabre poison we know from crime novels and history books has some surprising modern uses. Justin Rowlatt travels the Subcontinent - first to India's Forest Research Institute in the Himalayas where Sadhna Tripathi explains why the chemical element ends up in telegraph polls. We then head to Bangladesh, scene of the "largest mass poisoning in history". Justin speaks to Dr Quazi Quamruzzaman who helped first uncover it, and to Richard Pearshouse of Human Rights Watch, who says the problem still hasn't gone away. Sanjay Wijesekera of Unicef explains how the road to this particular hell was paved by good intentions, and how his aid agency is helping to guide Bangladesh back out again. (Picture: Bangladeshi woman's foot showing lesions caused by arsenic poisoning; Credit: Majority World/UIG via Getty Images)
    8/31/2016
    30:00

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