Sir Martyn Poliakoff and Ajay. Photos by Alex Wilkinson Media.-110

15th birthday of hit You Tube science series marked with Phosphorus reaction

Monday, 26 June 2023

The hit YouTube science series fronted by Professor Sir Martyn Poliakoff marked its 15th birthday with the release of a new video featuring the 15th element, Phosphorus.

The Periodic Table of Videos was launched on the 24th June in 2008 when scientists in the University’s School of Chemistry started working with filmmaker Brady Haran on their mission to document every single one of the 118 chemical elements in a fun, lively and often unconventional way.

Since then, the channel has been a runaway success and has amassed a huge following of over 1.5 million subscribers and features 711 videos which regularly reach millions of views – with the most popular video featuring a cheeseburger in Hydrochloric acid reaching nearly 20m views!

Professor of Chemistry Sir Martyn Poliakoff and technician Neil Barnes are the regular presenters of the videos alongside other members of the academic and technician team. To mark the 15th birthday Brady has made a brand new video. Watch it here.

Brady Haran, who makes all of our videos, pointed out that Phosphorus is element number 15.  Therefore, we are celebrating our “Phosphorus birthday” with a demonstration of the reaction of phosphorus with bromine.   Neither I nor our indefatigable technician Neil had ever seen the reaction before and we were delighted by what we saw, and we think our audience will love it!
Sir Martyn Poliakoff, Research Professor in Chemistry & YouTube Channel Creator

There have been many memorable videos over the years with the team often travelling across the globe to find and film the elements. Some highlights from over the years include:  The making of the world’s smallest periodic table, created by experts in the University of Nottingham’s Nanotechnology and Nanoscience Centre as a birthday present for Sir Martyn. It was officially recognised by the Guinness Book of Records in October 2012. The team have also featured some precious elements with a visit to the Gold Bullion Vault in the Bank of England and got to look at some huge uncut Diamonds in Russia.

Martyn explains why he thinks the videos have maintained their popularity: “The videos are made to appeal to a multi generational audience from young school children to teenagers and adults. The videos have always been designed to be educational but fun and to help answer questions about chemistry. We know from the fan letters and emails we receive that people really engage with the content and it often ignites their passion for science and chemistry.”

12-year-old Ajay Sawant, who lives in Florida, is a POTV superfan and has visited Sir Martyn twice. On his recent visit in 2022, he said: “I really like Sir Martyn and the videos so it’s great to meet him in person again. I’ve been interested in chemistry for several years after getting a book on the elements and watching the videos. The videos are excellent and it’s really great that Sir Martyn shares his knowledge with us.”

Martyn adds: “It’s wonderful to meet fans inspired by the videos, some of whom may be considering a career in science. I think the most important thing is to enjoy your science, which I hope we convey through our videos. If you enjoy science, you will have the commitment and persistence needed to address some of the serious problems facing society today like climate change, anti-microbial resistance and diminishing natural resources to make the chemicals that we will need in the future.”

Jane Icke - Media Relations Manager Science
Phone: 0115 7486462

Notes to editors:

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