The BEST episodes of Chemistry: A Volatile History

Every episode of Chemistry: A Volatile History ever, ranked from best to worst by thousands of votes from fans of the show. The best episodes of Chemistry: A Volatile History!

Series in which Jim Al-Khalili traces the story of how the elements, the building blocks that make up our entire world, were discovered and mapped.

Last Updated: 3/5/2024Network: BBC FourStatus: Ended
Discovering the Elements
108 votes

#1 - Discovering the Elements

Season 1 - Episode 1 - Aired 1/21/2010

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.

Directors: Jon Stephens
Watch Now:Amazon
The Order of the Elements
76 votes

#2 - The Order of the Elements

Season 1 - Episode 2 - Aired 1/28/2010

Professor Al-Khalili looks at the 19th century chemists who struggled to impose an order on the apparently random world of the elements. From working out how many there were to discovering their unique relationships with each other, the early scientists' bid to decode the hidden order of the elements was driven by false starts and bitter disputes. But ultimately the quest would lead to one of chemistry's most beautiful intellectual creations - the Periodic Table.

Directors: Ros Homan
Watch Now:Amazon
The Power of the Elements
73 votes

#3 - The Power of the Elements

Season 1 - Episode 3 - Aired 2/4/2010

Professor Al-Khalili uncovers tales of success and heartache in the story of chemists' battle to control and combine the elements, and build our modern world. He reveals the dramatic breakthroughs which harnessed their might to release almost unimaginable power, and he journeys to the centre of modern-day alchemy, where scientists are attempting to command the extreme forces of nature and create brand new elements.

Directors: Tom Cholmondeley
Watch Now:Amazon