Chemicals in Erlenmeyer flasks
Chemicals in Erlenmeyer flasks

Cosmic Queries – The Hidden Chemistry of Everything with Kate the Chemist

despeakrit, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons
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About This Episode

Is chemistry truly everywhere? On this episode, Neil deGrasse Tyson and comic co-host Chuck Nice answer fan questions about chemistry with Kate Biberdorf, aka Kate the Chemist. Discover the chemical reactions that make our world work!

What is fire? We break down combustion reactions and how– scientifically– dragons could breathe fire, if they existed, that is. We discuss Kate the Chemist’s fiction series as well as her new book for adults, Elemental: The Hidden Chemistry of Everything. Dive into the periodic table through the eyes of a chemist and an astrophysicist. Astrochemistry anyone? We discuss where we can find lithium on Earth and why not all the iron is in Earth’s core. Did some iron get distracted? 

Why did many scholars practice alchemy? Was it just in the pure pursuit of science? Learn some fun chemistry experiments you can do at home. What is stoichiometry? What is catalysis? You’ll learn about functional groups and how an element’s state impacts its reactions. Why don’t we power cars using hydrogen?

Find out about salt ionization and how salt water works. Does cooking food change its chemistry? What is caramelization? Are we on the cusp of discovering a new branch of chemistry? How does an atom work? As a society, have we reached a scientific plateau? We also discuss if there is a chemical solution to combating climate change? All that, plus, what element did astrophysicists discover on the sun before we discovered it on Earth? The answer might surprise you. 

Thanks to our Patrons William Kelly, Patrick Weller, Nicholas DeAngelo, George Brietigam, Adam Leos, David Bryan Smith, and Mick Mowchenko for supporting us this week.

NOTE: StarTalk+ Patrons can watch or listen to this entire episode commercial-free.


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