The explosive story of chemistry is the story of the building blocks that make up our entire world – the elements. From fiery phosphorous to the pure untarnished lustre of gold and the dazzle of violent, violet potassium, everything is made of elements – the earth we walk on, the air we breathe, even us. Yet for centuries this world was largely unknown, and completely misunderstood.
In this three-part series, professor of theoretical physics Jim Al-Khalili traces the extraordinary story of how the elements were discovered and mapped. He follows in the footsteps of the pioneers who cracked their secrets and created a new science, propelling us into the modern age.
In the final part, Professor Al-Khalili uncovers tales of success and heartache in the story of chemists’ battle to control and combine the elements, and build our modern world. He reveals the dramatic breakthroughs which harnessed their might to release almost unimaginable power, and he journeys to the centre of modern day alchemy, where scientists are attempting to command the extreme forces of nature and create brand new elements.