Science Podcasts

Naked Scientists episode

Sat, 13th Jul 2002

Phosphorus, spontaneous human combustion, marsh gas and will-o-the-wisp

Chemist John Emsley discusses phosphorus. Discovered when early alchemists boiled up urine, looking for gold, and instead found a substance that spontaneously ignited, phosphorus has since spawned the match industry, a trade union, a succession of grisly murders, been used to wage war, and now as a fertiliser and food preservative.

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