Periodic Table of Videos: elements as short YouTube episodes.

Here's a new YouTube channel from Nottingham University in the UK -- here, scientist-vloggers are in the process of posting a video for each element of the periodic table. Sort of "Mythbusters" meets chemistry, with real live awesome mad scientist hair. This is one of the neatest, most clever, and most enduringly valuable things I've seen on YT in a while.

Periodic Table of Videos channel, and The "sodium" video, above, is a good place to start.
[ YouTube, thanks Mark "coolest Scottish dude in Silicon Valley" Day ]


  1. Fantastic indeed! Awesome episode, wonderfull to show kids how much awesome is chemistry.

  2. Nice try, but Tom did it better, many years ago:

    There’s antimony, arsenic, aluminum, selenium,
    And hydrogen and oxygen and nitrogen and rhenium
    And nickel, neodymium, neptunium, germanium,
    And iron, americium, ruthenium, uranium,
    Europium, zirconium, lutetium, vanadium
    And lanthanum and osmium and astatine and radium
    And gold, protactinium and indium and gallium
    And iodine and thorium and thulium and thallium.

    There’s yttrium, ytterbium, actinium, rubidium
    And boron, gadolinium, niobium, iridium
    And strontium and silicon and silver and samarium,
    And bismuth, bromine, lithium, beryllium and barium.

    There’s holmium and helium and hafnium and erbium
    And phosphorous and francium and fluorine and terbium
    And manganese and mercury, molybdinum, magnesium,
    Dysprosium and scandium and cerium and cesium
    And lead, praseodymium, and platinum, plutonium,
    Palladium, promethium, potassium, polonium,
    Tantalum, technetium, titanium, tellurium,
    And cadmium and calcium and chromium and curium.

    There’s sulfur, californium and fermium, berkelium
    And also mendelevium, einsteinium and nobelium
    And argon, krypton, neon, radon, xenon, zinc and rhodium
    And chlorine, carbon, cobalt, copper,
    Tungsten, tin and sodium.

    These are the only ones of which the news has come to Harvard,
    And there may be many others but they haven’t been discovered.

    – Tom Lehrer

  3. @#4, OMG thanks for reminding me of him. “Of all the things I like to do, and there are hundreds!, in this business of demonstration….”

  4. love the hair! I forget who, but there was a naughty physicist (are there any other kind?) who used to toss foil wrapped bits of sodium into mud puddles that he has just ostentatiously spat in.

  5. Fantastic. Such enthusiasm. And the hair. Its like watching 1970’s Open University tv programmes all over again !

    Thank you. I’ll be watching the rest. And the physics demos mentioned. I remember my Chemistry teacher doing similar demonstrations at school, but with much smaller amounts of sodium. But a sodium rod – I have never seen so much in one place at one time! Oh the fun that could be had with that !

    I have one concern though – what happens when they get to uranium and plutonium….

  6. I got my hopes up when I saw that large chunk of sodium. Way to disappoint me. “Quite a substantial amount,” my ass!

  7. Not as good as Look Around You with some awesome British folks.

    But, seriously… Fun video, and I expect the others will be as well. Will be following them… The disjointed edits bugged me though, I guess it’s the result of amateur editors stuck in the generation of “MTV editing.” The content was interesting enough without the awkward cuts between crystal-lamp-man and you-have-sodium-on-your-camera-man.

  8. #9: o.O that first one! Man, if only high school were like that…

    #10: Takuan, that’s one of the eeriest things I’ve seen in a long time. The soundtrack would make an awesome background to an industrial track. (Or the soundtrack to the next Doom game…)

  9. That Julius Sumner Miller is like the bastard love-child of Ron Popeil and Ludwig von Drake!

  10. For you spiritual types I recommend reflection upon the very fact that there is a periodicity of the elements.

  11. The two scientists in this video are Martyn Poliakoff (he’s on Wikipedia if you’re interested and is the brother of the film-maker Stephen Poliakoff) who is the chap in the office, and Pete Licence who is the chap in the fetching green lab-coat. We also have blue and red lab-coats here at Nottingham.

  12. May I refer you to the classic MST3K episode/mockery “Horror at Party Beach”! Specifically, please see part 8. And with that, I will say…


  13. “it’s really quite a large rod” (sorry, couldn’t resist)

    Also, at 0:41: DOT MATRIX PAPER!

  14. “It’s really quite a large rod.”

    Sounds like Spinal Tap. “We’ve got armadillos in our trousers. It’s really quite frightening.”

  15. ah, dear commenter number 3! you stole my words!

    I saw an NCIS episode where some guy uses this song for encoding something.

    Tom Lehrer is great.

  16. Watching this video, my first thought was “Pool’s closed, due to sodium.” I need to start cutting back on my internets.

  17. Read “Uncle Tungsten: Memories of a Chemical Boyhood” by Oliver Sacks if you love Chemistry even a little bit.

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