The Cambridge Geek

In Their Element

This is a little like The Periodic Table by Primo Levi, being a series of short lectures, each about a different element and some aspect of its history.

The anthology nature of the programme means that each episode can be radically varied, with a different guest lecturer in each show. Thus far this season, it's covered lead, phosphorus and most recently iodine.

Remember this post about The Boring Talks? This is what that wanted to be. The half hour format allows a more detailed look into the given subject, and the scientific, technical or social information is presented in a much more interesting fashion.

Given I've just listened to "Awesome Iodine", let's pick a couple of highlights out about that. I must admit, I'm not a biologist, so the relationship between the thyroid and iodine is not something I know much about. I was very surprised to discover both the source of the term cretinism, and the fact that kelp is a common source for iodine supplements.

And it seems like Margaret Rayman, the Professor of the week has no small crusade to make on the problem of pregnant women. It would seem that insufficient iodine in pregnancy leads to potential physical and mental deficiencies, and since the main source of iodine are eggs, milk or fish, it's something that non-carnivores tend to struggle with. Which is where the kelp comes in. Not necessarily the best controls though.

A little dry at times, but for anyone with a scientific bent, it's worth a listen. (There's also a little something for the history/sociology buffs as the phosphorus episode has a nice segment about matches and the history of unions.)


Tagged: Radio Documentary Cast Informative Science/Technology