Published: February 19, 2015
Total Running Time: 00:25:21
The periodic table outlines the fundamental building blocks of all known matter in the universe. Composed of irreducible atoms, these elements arrived from the earliest reports of the Big Bang, the fusion wombs of stars and supernova, and collisions between interstellar matter and cosmic rays—as well as through artificial production in the lab. A scant 4.9% of the universe (the rest being dark matter and energy), the 118 elements currently arrayed on the periodic table display unique and yet beautifully related properties and behaviors. To us, they mean everything: from iron to uranium, their discovery and use have shaped the course of human history. Get to know the first element on the periodic table—hydrogen—with Exploratorium physicist Paul Dancstep as part of Everything Matters, our series on the periodic table.