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The Mystery of Matter: Search for the Elements

The Mystery of Matter: Search for the Elements is a three-part PBS documentary series hosted by Michael Emerson, describing the search for the basic chemical elements that form matter by focusing on the lives and times of seven scientific visionaries.

What is the world made of? This is the story about seven scientific explorers who seeked to identify, understand and organize the basic building blocks of matter. They are: Joseph Priestley and Antoine Lavoisier, whose discovery of oxygen led to the modern science of chemistry; Humphry Davy, who made electricity a powerful new tool in the search for elements; Dmitri Mendeleev invent the Periodic Table; Marie Curie, who conducted pioneering research on radioactivity; Harry Moseley, whose investigation of atomic number redefined the Periodic Table; Glenn Seaborg, whose discovery of plutonium opened up a whole new realm of elements still being explored today.

Episode 1 - Out of Thin Air, 1754-1806
Joseph Priestley and Antoine Lavoisier, whose discovery of oxygen led to the modern science of chemistry; Humphry Davy, who made electricity a powerful new tool in the search for elements.

Episode 2 - Unruly Elements, 1859-1902
Dmitri Mendeleev invents the periodic table, bringing order to the understanding of the elements for the first time; Marie Curie discovers several elements, including polonium and radium, and discovers radioactivity.

Episode 3 - Into the Atom, 1910-1960
Henry Moseley investigates atomic numbers and uncovers new details about the periodic table using X-ray spectroscopy; Glenn Seaborg creates plutonium, making nuclear weapons possible, and discovers related transuranium elements.


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