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  • amber resin tree sap


    23 May 2019

    Mike Freemantle introduces amber – the valuable organic gemstone that invests unwary insects in a durable tomb

  • Computer chip

    Beryllium oxide

    17 May 2019

    Brian Clegg examines the duality that makes beryllium oxide so valuable to the electronics industry

  • Children in classroom

    Methylphenidate (Ritalin)

    10 May 2019

    Jamie Durrani diverts his attention to the rise of Ritalin, a drug first identified as a way of improving tennis performance

  • A picture of the cover of Clearing the Air

    Book Club – Clearing the air

    10 May 2019

    Tim Smedley travels the world to work out why air pollution occurs, and what we can do to solve the problem

  • Horseshoe crabs in water

    Limulus Amebocyte Lysate

    3 May 2019

    Frances Addison takes a look at the discovery that brought horseshoe crabs to the heart of the pharmaceutical industry

  • Blister pack tablets


    26 April 2019

    Kit Chapman investigates the drug that has been one of the top five prescription medications in the UK every year for the last two decades

  • Arrowroot crop in Bermuda


    19 April 2019

    Inspired by a mention of arrowroot in Jane Austen's Emma, Mike Freemantle investigates how subtle differences in composition mean starch can be resistant dietary fibre or easily-digested nourishment.

  • Olive oil


    12 April 2019

    How an early synthetic dye chemical came to play a role in a mysterious disease outbreak in 1980s Spain

  • The book cover of The truth about fat

    Book Club – The truth about fat

    9 April 2019

    ‘Angry chef’ Anthony Warner wants you to understand why people really get fat and how society tricks us into blaming each other

  • Plume of talcum powder

    Talc: Magnesium silicate

    5 April 2019

    Coating your naked body with powdered magnesium silicate may sound strange, but it's an important part of many bathtime rituals