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Social sciences/Social studies of science/Science history/History of chemistry/Periodic table of the elements

Depending on lifestyle and consumption patterns, each person on the planet can generate tons of waste over the course of his or her life. The total amount of trash skyrockets with the farm, mine, and industrial wastes generated during the production of food, power, and consumer items.

“Working with Waste,” the 10 August special issue of Science, highlights the fact that trash can often be turned into treasure—a feedstock that the human race can’t afford to overlook as a burgeoning world population tries to use (and reuse) its resources more efficiently.

There’s more than a bit of playful mischief in the chemistry-themed videos produced by University of Nottingham professor Martyn Poliakoff, journalist Brady Haran, and the rest of their merry cast of characters. The videos—which are available on YouTube and started by featuring each of the elements in the periodic table—involve chemical reactions to please any video-watching wise guy, science geek or not. One shows what happens to a cheeseburger after it has been lowered halfway into a beaker of hydrochloric acid and left for a few hours.

Chris Kennedy

Chris Kennedy