The Future of Materials
Episode 24 of The Nature of Matter

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The Nature of Matter - Understanding the Physical World
Discover how the immense variety of matter--stars, mountains, plants, people--is made by a limited number of elements that combine in simple ways. In the engaging lectures of The Nature of Matter, no scientific background is needed to appreciate everyday miracles like a bouncing rubber ball or water's astonishing power to…
Matter, Energy, and Entropy
Episode 1 of The Nature of Matter
Starting with a deck of cards tossed into the air, explore the key concepts of matter, energy, and entropy, which are the building blocks of the physical universe. Study examples of these phenomena, and see how they are demonstrated by the behavior of the airborne cards.
Resistance Is Futile: Superconductors
Episode 21 of The Nature of Matter
Under special conditions, some materials lose all resistance to electron flow, becoming superconductors that transmit electricity with 100 percent efficiency. Probe this phenomenon at the atomic level, and learn how scientists are discovering new, more practical superconducting materials.
Interactions: Adhesion and Cohesion
Episode 11 of The Nature of Matter
Probe the forces that allow lizards to walk up walls: adhesion and cohesion, which are ways that materials interact with themselves and with other materials. By examining these forces in depth, learn how adhesives work and why cotton makes the best towels.
Out of Many, One: Composites
Episode 23 of The Nature of Matter
When different materials combine to create something very unlike its individual components, you have a composite. Learn what gives composites superior properties. Explore a wide range of examples, including concrete, carbon fiber, fiberglass, Kevlar, automobile tires, carbon nanotubes, and aerogel.
Recycling Materials
Episode 20 of The Nature of Matter
Investigate the ease of recycling some materials, such as aluminum and asphalt, and the impracticality of reusing others, such as certain plastics. Look at the different types of plastic, metal, paper, and glass, and discover what you can put in the recycle bin and why.
The Stone, Bronze, and Iron Ages
Episode 18 of The Nature of Matter
The rise of civilization went hand in hand with advances in the understanding of materials. Learn how the Stone Age gave way to the Bronze Age and then the Iron Age, as ancient people learned to smelt ore and manipulate the properties of metals and alloys.
Materials for Body Implants
Episode 14 of The Nature of Matter
Today, medicine can replace many parts of the human body thanks to an improved understanding of materials and their biochemistry. Trace the progress in body implants from dental fillings and tooth implants to artificial hips, knees, hearts, arteries, and breast implants.
The Science of Energy - Resources and Power Explained
Energy is, without a doubt, the very foundation of the universe. It's the engine that powers life and fuels the evolution of human civilization. Yet for all its importance, what energy really is and how it works remains a mystery to most non-scientists. For example:
  • Where does most of…
A New Theory of Matter
Episode 3 of The Nature of Matter
Discover how the idea that light comes in discrete packets called "quanta" led to a startling new theory of matter: quantum mechanics. One prediction is that matter, like light, behaves as both a particle and a wave, a property observed in subatomic particles such as electrons.
Surface Energy: The Interfaces among Us
Episode 12 of The Nature of Matter
A surface is a discontinuity, or interface, between one phase of matter and another. Focus on this crucial boundary, which affects everything from a spacecraft reentering the atmosphere to the efficient washing of clothes. Explore surface phenomena such as films, surface tension, and catalysts.
Matter in Solution
Episode 10 of The Nature of Matter
Explore the nature of chemical solutions, which can be liquid, solid, or gaseous, and are ubiquitous in daily life. Examples include dental fillings, air, blood, and soft drinks. Study the components of a solution--the solvent and solute--and the principles of what dissolves what.