The Mystery of Matter

Producer – Stephen Lyons

In Development (4–6 one–hour programs)

The Mystery of Matter is a series of documentaries about one of the great adventures in the history of science – the quest to answer the simple question: What is the world made of?

Our cast of characters is the succession of chemists who, beginning in the mid–1700’s, gradually pieced together the modern view of matter: that all matter is made of atoms; that atoms come in more than 100 varieties, known as elements; that they combine with each other in predictable ways to form all the substances around us; that within the seemingly random assortment of elements lies a hidden order, now embodied in the Periodic Table; and that this order stems from the internal structure of each kind of atom – its unique allotment of electrons, protons and neutrons. Today these notions about matter are so familiar that they seem mundane. But each one represents a hard–won discovery by a chemist (or chemists) groping toward understanding.

The Mystery of Matter will reveal how these chemical giants – Priestley and Lavoisier, Dalton and Avogadro, Bunsen and Mendeleyev, Curie and Rutherford, and more – made their discoveries. The series will bring these scientists alive through HD re–enactments of their pivotal experiments, shot with period scientific equipment, and by using their own words, spoken by actors, to reveal the creative process.

One of the most ambitious chemical education projects ever undertaken, The Mystery of Matter project will also include a popular companion book, an extensive website, an educational outreach plan and a set of short video modules, drawn from the series, that will help science teachers convey the core concepts in the chemistry curriculum in exciting ways – through the fascinating stories of the men and women who made these discoveries.