Just 92 elements make up the world, but the belief that were only four - earth, fire, air and water - persisted until the 19th Century. Professor Al-Khalili retraces the footsteps of the alchemists who first began to question the notion of the elements in their search for the secret of everlasting life. He reveals the red herrings and rivalries which dogged scientific progress, and explores how new approaches to splitting matter brought us both remarkable elements and the new science of chemistry.
Hidden behind bullet proof glass, guarded by a mysterious order of knights, could this stone cup really be the legendary Holy Grail? And the horrific, mythical monster, half man, half bull that devoured its human victims trapped inside a terrifying labyrinth. But could the blood-curdling legend of the Minotaur be linked to a real place?
Less famous then the Shroud of Turin could the Shroud of Oviedo actually be Christ's burial cloth? NGC traces the blood-stained relic to Israel in a quest to determine whether it holds Christ's DNA, and in a most chilling discovery finds that it contains no evidence of a father's DNA. Later, a linguistic code cracker attempts to solve the riddle of one of the most mysterious ancient objects - the Phaistos Disc. The Phaistos Disc is a curious archaeological find, most likely dating from about 1700 BC. Its purpose and meaning, and even its original geographical place of manufacture, remain disputed, making it one of the most famous mysteries of archaeology. The Phaistos Disc was discovered in the basement of room XL-101 of the Minoan site of Phaistos. The site is near Hagia Triada on the south coast of Crete. Italian archaeologist Luigi Pernier recovered this remarkably intact disc about 15 cm. in diameter and uniformly just over 1 cm. thick, on July 3, 1908.
Examining the medieval myth of the Philosopher's Stone, a Holy Grail-type relic which supposedly held the key to alchemy and immortality. Many noted alchemists and adventurers searched obsessively for the artefact hoping to learn its powerful secrets, a quest which allegedly drove some to madness and others to celestial encounters. It's one of the most coveted artefacts of the Bible: a gold-encrusted chest containing the Ten Commandments. Can modern scholarship explain the awful powers of the Ark of the Covenant and tell us how it vanished and where it is today?