Atoms of Fire

The series begins with the ancient idea that the chemistry of life - organic chemistry - is somehow different and special and can only be created by living things. But such ideas were to be proved wrong. In the nineteenth century organic chemistry was shown to be no different from general chemistry, except insofar as the carbon atom had a central role. Atoms of Fire sets out to show some of these principles.
Ep 1 – The Organic Mystery
The origin of organic chemistry; the death of Vitalism; the complexity of organic compounds; the concept of valency; Kekule's structural diagrams; and basic carbon chains. Synopsis: In the nineteenth century organic chemistry was shown to be no different from general chemistry, except insofar as the carbon atom had a central role. Atoms of Fire sets out to show some of these principles.
Ep 2 – Taste of Hydrocarbons
Carbon's place on the periodic table. Consolidation of valency. The logic of the alkane family. Alkane isomers. IUPAC name system. A brief look at other hydrocarbon families, alkenes, alkynes. The case of benzene. Synopsis: In the nineteenth century organic chemistry was shown to be no different from general chemistry, except insofar as the carbon atom had a central role. Atoms of Fire sets out to show some of these principles.
Ep 3 – A Bit of Bonding
Basic introduction to electrons and the octet rule. Polar versus non polar bonds. Non-polar hydrocarbons are not soluble in water; the attachment of polar groups renders them so substitute groups create other families. Synopsis: In the nineteenth century organic chemistry was shown to be no different from general chemistry, except insofar as the carbon atom had a central role. Atoms of Fire sets out to show some of these principles.
Ep 4 – Improving on Nature
Organic chemistry goes industrial with William Perkin. The discovery of chirality; concept of atoms as 3D objects; 3D structural diagrams and models; and more. Synopsis: In the nineteenth century organic chemistry was shown to be no different from general chemistry, except insofar as the carbon atom had a central role. Atoms of Fire sets out to show some of these principles.
Ep 5 – Polymers and Plastics
The story of the glucose polymers cellulose and starch. Why starch is digestible by humans but cellulose is not?; and the discovery of nitrocellulose and its importance. Definition of thermoplastics, thermosets, and more. Synopsis: In the nineteenth century organic chemistry was shown to be no different from general chemistry, except insofar as the carbon atom had a central role. Atoms of Fire sets out to show some of these principles.
Ep 6 – A Petrochemical World
The huge reliance on petrochemicals, not only for fuels, but also for a multitude of compounds from plastics to insecticides. Synopsis: In the nineteenth century organic chemistry was shown to be no different from general chemistry, except insofar as the carbon atom had a central role. Atoms of Fire sets out to show some of these principles.
Ep 7 – Proteins
Protein is intimately involved in life processes. In this program we look at amino acids, protein structure and introduce enzymes. Synopsis: In the nineteenth century organic chemistry was shown to be no different from general chemistry, except insofar as the carbon atom had a central role. Atoms of Fire sets out to show some of these principles.

This program is released for non theatrical use within educational, government and business organisations. Additional payments under a Screenrights licence are not required. Please contact us for Exhibition or Streaming Licences.

Production Year: 
2001
Duration: 
7 x 15 mins
Series Episode
Standard $330
Schools $220
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