Published: November 19, 2015
Total Running Time: 00:27:53
Earth, water, air, fire: our world is ruled by oxygen, the third most abundant element in the universe. Originating inside of stars, oxygen is scarce on planets outside our own. It comprises roughly half the mass of Earth’s crust and a fifth of its atmosphere. Nonmetallic and highly reactive, oxygen is key to combustion and corrosion, and forms stable bonds with almost every element, notably hydrogen (H2O) and itself. Around 3 billion years ago, O2 entered our atmosphere as the consequence of photosynthetic bacteria steadily converting sunlight into chemical energy. Inspiring life as we know it, dioxygen fills our lungs, diffuses into our blood, and enables cellular respiration. Ozone (O3), by contrast, is a pollutant, as well as a natural component of the stratosphere that absorbs and protects us from harmful ultraviolet radiation.
In the spirit of amplifying the Black Lives Matter movement and to avoid any appearance of having appropriated that title, our series of talks formerly called Everything Matters: Tales from the Periodic Table will now be called, simply, Tales from the Periodic Table. Please excuse the former title on videos made in the past.