Chemistry Boffins Create Expolsive Hit on YouTube

Chemists from the University of Nottingham have caught worldwide attention by bringing entertaining science to the public through their ‘Periodic Table of Videos’ website.

The site has received attention from thousands of viewers, among them Richard Dawkins and Nobel Laureate Sir Harry Kroto. The Nottingham group of academics, including a former Nobel Prize winner, have posted clips relating to every element of the periodic table. Many of the videos demonstrate explosive experiments considered too dangerous to be performed in schools. A clip of sodium fizzing violently and igniting received over 35,000 hits in the first week after it was posted, and the group’s channel was recently voted #2 most subscribed in the United Kingdom.

The idea for the set of 118 videos was sparked by BBC journalist Brady Haran, who had previously made a documentary about a year in the life of the university scientists. Internationally renowned chemist Professor Martyn Polikoff, a ‘pioneer in the field of green chemistry,’ said the clips were designed to boost interest in the subject. Dr Peter Licence, a lecturer known to many Nottingham students for his explosive practical demonstrations, is said to have ‘jumped at the chance to blow some stuff up in the name of education.’

Dr Licence commented that the aim of the clips is to re-ignite a passion for science in people and to think of it as a potential line of education and employment. ‘It shows people that it’s not the boring dry subject that people think it is.’

On YouTube, the clips have been so popular that the group is considering a compilation DVD. As well as continuing to improve the videos with ‘better samples and bigger experiments,’ the scientists also plan to make extra clips to keep the public ‘informed and entertained.’

To see the videos, visit, or visit the main website at

By Susannah Sconce


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