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A Toast To Tony

Chemistry professor Martyn Poliakoff of the University of Nottingham and his colleagues came up with a brilliant idea a couple of years ago to prepare a series of videos about the elements of the periodic table. If you haven’t checked out the Periodic Table of Videos, you should because they provide a lot of great information delivered in a fun and exciting way. Even if you are a seasoned chemist, you will still learn stuff.

There are only so many elements, though, so Poliakoff and friends expanded the video series to include seasonal chemical videos such as ones about the Chinese New Year and Christmas, as well as videos describing the chemistry behind viagra, the Shroud of Turin, and the Nobel Prizes, among other miscellaneous items. The team also has created a set of videos called The Sixty Symbols that provide an explanation of “the letters and squiggles” used by physicists and astronomers in their scientific writings.

One of the latest videos produced by the Nottingham crew is different–it’s an online tribute. Poliakoff takes time out to eulogize Tony Judt, an acclaimed British historian and Poliakoff’s close lifelong friend who recently died. The video is less about chemistry and more about the joy of living and the joy of discovery, which are intangible elements you won’t find on the periodic table.

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