RNZ: Elemental

RNZ: Elemental

A journey through the periodic table of elements with chemistry professor Allan Blackman, from AUT, and Alison Ballance... Show More

Episodes

Samarium magnets are used in headphones & guitar pickups, and samarium was the first element named after a real person, says Prof Allan Blackman from AUT in ep 72 of Elemental.

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October 10, 2019 8 min

Ruthenium is a 'sort of' precious metal that is a useful catalyst and alloy. It is toxic and smells like ozone, says Allan Blackman from AUT in ep 71 of Elemental.

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Rubidium is a reactive metal with few uses, named 'deepest red' due to its beautiful red spectral lines, says Allan Blackman from AUT in ep 70 of Elemental.

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Rhodium is an expensive precious metal that is used in catalytic convertors, to make the Parkinson's drug L-DOPA, create shiny jewellery and add the menthol taste to toothpaste, says Allan Blackman from AUT in ep 69 of Elemental.

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Named after the Rhine river, rhenium is a metal with very high boiling and melting points, and it was the last naturally occuring, non-radioactive element to be discovered, says Prof Allan Blackman in ep 68 of Elemental.

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September 29, 2019 9 min

The radioactive gas radon can be a risk in the basements of stone houses and used to, erroneously, be touted for its health benefits, says Prof Allan Blackman from AUT in ep 67 of Elemental.

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September 26, 2019 10 min

Radium was famously found by the Curies, and was once widely used in face creams, drinks and luminous watch dials, despite being highly radioactive, says Allan Blackman in ep 66 of Elemental.

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Protactinium is a rare, radioactive element that has no uses and may be the most boring element, says Prof Allan Blackman from AUT in ep 65 of Elemental.

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September 19, 2019 11 min

Despite its gruesome mythical name, the radioactive element promethium has no particular claim to fame, says Prof Allan Blackman from AUT in ep 64 of Elemental.

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Praseodymium is a metal wirh the second longest name on the periodic table and not many uses, says Prof Alan Blackman from AUT in ep 63 of Elemental.

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September 12, 2019 11 min

From levitating burnt buttocks, to excitable nerves and sure-to-rise baking, potassium is highly reactive and vital to life, says Prof Allan Blackman in ep 62 of Elemental.

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September 8, 2019 10 min

Polonium will be forever linked with the names Curie and Litvinenko and has negligible desirable features, says Prof Allan Blackman in ep 61 of Elemental.

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A radioactive heavyweight associated with nuclear bombs & power, which is powering the Voyager spacecraft, says Prof Allan Blackman from AUT in ep 60 of Elemental.

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September 1, 2019 8 min

Platinum is useful in catalytic convertors, is used to treat testicular cancer and will be useful in hydrogen fuel cells, says Prof Allan Blackman from AUT in ep 59 of Elemental.

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August 29, 2019 14 min

Phosphorus, chemical symbol P, was first isolated as an element from thousands of litres of urine. Also found in guano, aka bird poo. Allan Blackman from AUT has the full story in ep 58 of Elemental.

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Palladium is a pricey precious metal most commonly used in catalytic convertors on car exhausts, says AUT's Allan Blackman in ep 57 of Elemental.

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August 22, 2019 14 min

Oxygen is very friendly with other chemical elements & very helpful for life on Earth, says Allan Blackman from AUT in ep 56 of Elemental.

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Osmium is extremely rare and expensive. It is the densest chemical element, rivals diamond as being the least compressible of all known substances & has a distinctive 'pong' according to Allan Blackman in ep 55 of Elemental.

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August 16, 2019 13 min

Most important biological molecules contain nitrogen, even though it takes lots of energy to make or break its chemical bonds, says Allan Blackman from AUT in ep 54 of Elemental.

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Niobium is a metal that is useful at both very high temperatures, as in jet engines, and very low temperatures as a superconductor, says Allan Blackman from AUT in ep 53 of Elemental.

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