Episode 14 – Exposure to the Elements

June 10, 2009 14:46 by andi

Have you seen Wolfram|Alpha? It’s not an internet search engine, even though it seems like one, but rather a computational knowledge engine. You ask it a question, and it actually computes the answer. Seems the perfect way to double-check if the meaning of life is really 42, like Douglas Adams wrote in A Hitchhikers’ Guide to the Galaxy.

However, it occurred to me that the answer should actually be 94 not 42. Here is my theory. Things that have meaning …matter, all life is made up of …matter, therefore the meaning of life is …matter! Since there are 94 types of matter naturally found on Earth, the number 94 must be the secret to ‘Life, the Universe and Everything’ and the periodic table of the elements must be the map!

Nobelium-ly yours, Dr Andi

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dinosaur.jpgLauren Bartlett (also known as Lawrencium to her brother) with her lithium battery collection. Photo Andi Horvath | Drink with the table. Photo www.campusgifts.co.uk | Dan Robertson has time for Caesium. Photo Andi Horvath


Show notes

More information

A ’youtube’ version ‘Song of the elements’ by Tom Lehrer
Since March 2008, as well as Caesium,  other elements have got into the act of time keeping for planet earth.
The periodic table of videos is a must for element lovers like us.


Interviewees in order of appearance
Lauren Bartlett  – Programs Officer, Scienceworks favours Lawrencium, Krypton and Lithium
Pennie Stoyles – Public Programs Manager, Scienceworks loves Sodium and Iodine 
Daniel Robertson – Programs Officer, Scienceworks has time for Caesium
Michelle Sanders – Senior Programs Officer, Scienceworks makes Hydrogen her No 1
Bronwyn Quint – Program Coordinator Physical Science
Vera Gin – Program Manager, Science  
Avantika Banerjee – Programs Officer, Scienceworks
Daniel Avano – Program Coordinator, Science

"Song of the Elements" by Tom Lehrer (1959)
He recites the names of all the chemical elements known at the time of writing, up to number 102, nobelium. The song is sung to the tune of the Major General's Song from The Pirates of Penzance by Gilbert and Sullivan.


Dr Andi Horvath – Senior Curator, Museum Victoria
Arch Cuthbertson – Podcast Recording Services


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