Episodes
In this special podcast produced in partnership with Waters Corporation, find out how understanding the chemistry and materials that go into batteries marks the first step towards making them safer and increasing energy density, and unlocks new opportunities for reuse and recycling
Published 06/01/21
How did a tree bark from Sri Lanka become one of the essential flavours of the festive season? We explore the history of cinnamon and the compound that gives it its distinctive taste and aroma
Published 12/21/20
A compound so explosively unstable that nobody has been able to measure how sensitive it is without it, well, exploding.
Published 12/11/20
How one of mankind's oldest pigments helped shepherds secure their sheep and inspired one of the most popular songs of the twentieth century
Published 12/04/20
A sweet compound that provides ample energy for extreme endurance events – find out how maltodextrin helped Anna Ploszajski swim the English channel
Published 11/27/20
Liquid salts, ionic melts, fused salts, or ionic glasses – call them what you like, these much-hyped solvents show great promise. Katrina Krämer speaks to chemical engineer Jason Bara about ionic liquids.
Published 11/20/20
An antimicrobial compound that kills bacteria and viruses quickly – found in some of the most colourful antiseptic solutions
Published 11/13/20
Does asparagus give you foul-smelling urine? Helen Arney investigates asparagusic acid, and the lavatorial genetic lottery that controls whether or not you can smell its distinctive aroma
Published 11/05/20
A sweet treat with a deadly trick for Halloween – glycyrrhizic acid, or glycyrrhizin, is found in black liquorice and sweeter than sucrose, but can cause heart problems and even prove fatal if consumed in excess
Published 10/30/20
Also known as 'milk of amnesia', propofol helps to prevent perception of pain in surgery – just don't forget its dangerous side
Published 10/23/20
Hepatitis C drug sofosbuvir made waves when first launched – quicker to work and with fewer side effects than existing drugs, but it came with a hefty price tag
Published 10/16/20
Meera Senthilingam makes a welcome return to the podcast with a drug that gives hope to the many sufferers of drug-resistant TB – still one of the world's biggest killers
Published 10/09/20
This summer's extreme weather prompts Katrina Krämer to investigate the history of sunblock and the ingredient blamed by some for bleaching coral reefs
Published 10/02/20
From Lavoisier’s experiments with plaster of paris to the the ‘Sistine Chapel of crystals’ in Mexico, Mike Freemantle explores the history of gypsum
Published 08/07/20
Originally developed to treat flu and marketed in Japan as Avigan, promising Covid-19 trial results have seen countries stockpiling this medication by the millions
Published 08/02/20
Tannic acid in green acorns can kill wild animals and livestock, but in this podcast Mike Freemantle makes plain that you can prevent poisoning with pannage pigs.
Published 07/24/20
Common in the US but banned in the EU, this animal feed additive makes for muscular pigs and beefy international trade disputes. 
Published 07/17/20
Brian Clegg discovers what a six-membered silicon ring can tell us about alien life
Published 07/10/20
Frances Addison on the aromatic compound found in both buttered popcorn and the bearcat’s scent glands, and responsible for the distinctive smell of both
Published 07/03/20
News that this cheap, ubiquitous steroid drug may reduce deaths in Covid-19 cases has been greeted with cautious optimism. Ben Valsler looks at the history of dexamethasone and the promising Recovery trial results.
Published 06/26/20
Mike Freemantle on the art, history and science of this delicate, translucent ceramic material
Published 06/19/20
Brian Clegg introduces the humble mineral that delights both astronomers and archaeologists
Published 06/12/20
Mike Freemantle introduces the peptic ulcer treatment cimetidine, which – as Tagamet – became the first 'blockbuster' drug
Published 06/05/20
The World Health Organisation hope to eradicate human African trypanosomiasis, better known as sleeping sickness, within our lifetimes. Jamie Durrani looks at a drug that may make it possible.
Published 05/29/20
Georgia Mills investigates the psychoactive found in ayahuasca that may mirror near-death experiences
Published 05/22/20