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The Periodic Table of Videos is a series of educational shorts on chemistry produced by the University of Nottingham and posted on YouTube (along with a sister series, ''Sixty Symbols'', which is devoted to explaining "those funny letters and squiggles used by physicists and astronomers"). So why, you ask, would an educational series have its own page on TV Tropes? Because it features a charming and likable cast of characters, who've made it their business to make chemistry, astronomy and physics as interesting and engaging as possible.


Each episode in The Periodic Table of Videos explores and examines a single element from (what else?) the Periodic Table. The viewer learns about the element's history and properties (and occasionally, the viewer gets to see that element blown up in a spectacular fashion.) From time to time, the scientists will slip in a video discussing other science-related content; a visit to a famous site related to the history of chemistry, or a discussion of the science behind notable current events, to name a few examples. And sometimes they'll just blow crap up because it's cool For Science!! As of this date, they've explored all 118 known elements of the periodic table and have moved on to exploring various molecular compounds.


Tropes Include:

  • Adorkable: Pretty much the entire cast, but Pete and Debbie especially.
  • Book-Ends: Many of the videos begin and end with the same bit of footage.
  • Butt-Monkey: Neil, who runs and maintains lab equipment, is often forced to clean up after disastrous experiments.
  • Einstein Hair: Professor Martyn Poliakoff has a truly magnificent example. Several YouTube commenters have said things like, "This man looks like science." Some videos show photos of the Professor when he was younger, and viewers are amused to find that he has always had that hair.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: Mentioned by name in video on the Very Fast Death Factor compound. Three guesses why it's called that...
  • For Science!: Ostensibly the real reason they blow up so many things on the show.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: For a Valentine's Day special, the cast was asked to contribute chemicals that invoked Valentine's Day to them for use in a perfume. Most went with chemicals that are responsible for smells they like, such as vanillin, but a couple others included chemicals that merely had personal meaning to them. At the end, Brady popped up a fake advertisement for the finished perfume, with a footnote at the end.
    "Unlikely to be safe for humans"
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  • Mad Scientist: Professor Martyn may not act like one, but he certainly cultivates the look of a traditional movie mad scientist.
    "It's not that I look like a scientist. It's just that scientists look like me."
  • Ms. Fanservice: No one on the show can really be said to embody this, although Debbie comes close in this video. (Note: If you're an amply-endowed woman trying to engage your audience in a serious discussion of silicon, do not wear a tight shirt.)
  • Stuff Blowing Up: What many of the videos seem to feature. Apparently a good way to learn about an element is to see how "reactive" it is (e.g: how well it blows itself and other stuff up.)
  • Very Special Episode: Normally the series is talking solely about chemistry itself. However, in September of 2013, after people were still talking about the chemical weapons attack the previous month, they did a video on the chemistry of chemical weapons, addressing not just the chemistry but also why it's such a serious war crime.
  • The Voiceless: Neil, the senior technician who plays the dogsbody and set-up guy for the rest of the cast. (He will talk occasionally, but since his main job is to set up experiments, not perform them, you rarely hear him do so.)
    • He was more vocal in earlier episodes, however they decided to play up his lack of dialogue and began referring to him in some episodes as the "Chemical Stig."


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