About the Series
The Mystery of Matter: Search for the Elements brings the history of science to life for today’s television audience. In three, one-hour episodes, the series tells the story of seven of history’s most important scientists as they seek to identify, understand and organize the basic building blocks of matter. Below are brief descriptions of the three programs, and to the right are four short promos. Find out more about the series by clicking on the links at the left.
Episode 1: Out of Thin Air (1754-1806)
One of science’s great odd couples — British minister Joseph Priestley and French tax administrator Antoine Lavoisier — together discover a fantastic new gas called oxygen, overturning the reigning theory of chemistry and triggering a worldwide search for new elements. Soon caught up in the hunt is science’s first great showman, a precocious British chemist named Humphry Davy, who dazzles London audiences with his lectures, introduces them to laughing gas and turns the battery into a powerful tool in the search for new elements.
Episode 2: Unruly Elements (1859-1902)
Over a single weekend in 1869, a young Russian chemistry professor named Dmitri Mendeleev invents the Periodic Table, bringing order to the growing gaggle of elements. But this sense of order is shattered when a Polish graduate student named Marie Sklodowska Curie discovers radioactivity, revealing that elements can change identities — and that atoms must have undiscovered parts inside them.
Episode 3: Into the Atom (1910-1960)
Caught up in the race to discover the atom’s internal parts — and learn how they fit together — a young British physicist named Harry Moseley uses newly discovered X-rays to put the Periodic Table in a whole new light. And a young American chemist named Glenn Seaborg creates a new element — plutonium — that changes the world forever, unleashing a force of unimaginable destructive power: the atomic bomb.
Promo Video60-second Promo Hour 1 60-second promo – Priestley and Lavoisier Hour 2 30-second promo – Mendeleev