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This edition: Chemical Foundations of Life

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Episode Details

The composition of matter is central to the understanding of life. The program details the functions and main forms of all matter, including atoms, molecules, elements, and compounds.
In the program’s first segment, Dr. Mark Poth documents the harmful effects of the prolonged exposure of pine trees to Southern California’s polluted air. In the process, he deals with the nature of the atom and introduces organic and inorganic compounds. The program goes on to explain how chemical reactions change compounds and how isotopes are used as a research tool.

In segment two, the process of desalination serves as the vehicle to describe the many properties of water and the importance of water to life. Animations illustrate how hydrogen and oxygen atoms bond together to form a polar molecule.
Segment three examines the work of Dr. Susan Taylor, who discovered the structure of the enzyme protein kinase, explaining how living beings are essentially chemical entities. The crucial role of complex shapes in organic molecules is also explained.