A few years ago, we posted about an ambitious project out of the University of Nottingham called The Periodic Table of Videos. The project is pretty much exactly what it sounds like – an online periodic table in which each and every element gets its own brief introductory video, "starring" the researchers and faculty of the university's chemistry department. Video journalist Brady Haran has kept each episode loose and unscripted, and the scientists' enthusiasm for their subject is infectious, even -- or perhaps especially -- when their experiments go awry (Keep an eye out especially for the wonderfully wooly Professor Poliakoff, whose hair alone should earn him first billing).
We were delighted to learn that the PTOV has just been awarded a very well-deserved Science Prize for Online Resources by the American Association for the Advancement of Science. In fact, the project has proven so successful overall that Haran has embarked on a similar collaboration with the university's physics department, and he's also brought the chemists back for a new series about molecules. The most popular video from that series, which we've posted above, addresses a question that has kept us all up till dawn at least once in our lives: What happens when a cheeseburger is dunked in hydrochloric acid?
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Sheerly Avni is a San Francisco-based arts and culture writer. Her work has appeared in Salon, LA Weekly, Mother Jones, and many other publications. You can follow her on twitter at @sheerly