|An introduction to organic chemistry, Atoms of Fire looks at the basic facts using storytelling, demonstration, graphics and documentary.
The series begins with the ancient idea that the chemistry of life - organic chemistry - is somehow different and special and can only be created by living things. The ancient Greek philosopher Democritus believed that there was a human soul made of special atoms of fire, from which our series takes its name.
But such ideas were to be proved wrong. In the nineteenth century organic chemistry was shown to be no different from general chemistry, except insofar as the carbon atom had a central role. However, the complicated carbon compounds, which are so characteristic of life, still retain the old name of "organic". Carbon turned out to be extremely versatile, creating the base for many more compounds than all the other elements put together. Atoms of Fire sets out to show some organic chemistry principles.