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Scientists took about 300 years to lay out the Periodic Table into neat rows and columns. In one hour, we’re going to mess it all up.  This episode, we enlist journalists, poets, musicians, and even a physicist to help us tell stories of matter that matters. You’ll never look at that chart the same way again.

Special thanks to Emotive Fruition for organizing poetry performances and to the mighty Sylvan Esso for composing 'Jaime's Song', both inspired by this episode.

Thanks also to Sam Kean, Chris Howk, Brian Fields and to Paul Dresher and Ned Rothenberg for the use of their song "Untold Story:The Edge of Sleep"


Writer Jaime Lowe tells us how she learned the hard way that one of the simplest atoms borne from the Big Bang holds the key to her brain … and maybe also yours.

Comments [16]


A trip back to the Cold War; into the atmosphere; and inside our cells, where a very special type of carbon is helping to answer the question: how old are we?

Comments [10]


How a hole in the ground in South Dakota is helping us answer questions about what might be the most elemental part of the universe.  


Comments [72]

Jayden from Rapid city S.D.

I know right lead is so cool. I was blessed to be able to go there on a school field trip. (Yes I am a mianor) soooooooooooo cooooool in rapid city I'm not too far from lead. A geologist I know works down there sometimes.

Apr. 16 2018 11:43 PM
Candace Gossen from Denver

Just heard this podcast today, it seems it was made in 2015 as the race to 2030 was stated as being 15 years into the future. I too, as a scientist think this was a horrible presentation of radiocarbon dating. As an Env. Archaeologist and Earth Scientist, i date all kinds of organics from lake sediment, and bone, and anything from our ancient past that can be. However, first the ridiculous statement that the presenter declared she wanted another Atomic bomb to be dropped in order to engage her miniscule science knowledge is ridiculous. What a really stupid thing to say. Someone should have edited this. perhaps not, now with the Trump administration she may get her wish. C14 is one molecule that is tested, we work with lots of carbon, C12, C13.... C14 is about decay time. Its always there, always present.... its not going to go away in 2030. We have to adjust our RC dates now to pre 1950, I do my dating at Lawrence Livermore, and its all adjusted to 1950 because everything afterward has an overload of Carbon that isn't reliable. It would be good for you to do a follow up podcast on this!

Apr. 20 2017 11:29 PM
sharon from New York

I haven't read all the comments so please excuse me if this has been ranted on before.
Please note that the C-14 isotope has been around since the dawn of time. The way carbon dating works and the dating technique described by the person on the podcast are two distinct different things.
Bare with me, I'm a chemist:
Carbon 14 is a naturally occurring isotope found in a specific concentration in LIVING organisms (animals, plants, etc..).
When the organic matter dies, it dies with the specific concentration of C-14 in its tissue (lets limit this discussion to animals) and because it is now dead, the organism is not getting any more carbon from anywhere.
Now, The C-14 has a specific half life of 5730 years. Which means- after 5730 years, the concentration of C-14 in a sample of tissue will be HALVED.
By measuring the concentration of C-14 in a sample of tissue and calculating backwards- we can determine the age of a sample of organic matter.
What was described in the episode about how the atomic bombs created this C-14 isotope is so false it made my heart hurt. Facts were not checked and if they were, the delivery was wrong as I fear the lady reporting on the subject did not fully understand what shew was trying to explain.

Mar. 06 2017 10:39 AM
Sarah Sala from New York, NY

Hi Ali Foss,

Feel free to send me an email if you would like a copy of my Hydrogen poem! I would be flattered. My email is Thanks for listening!

The Helium poem was written by Christina Quintana

Dec. 04 2016 06:05 PM
Gabe L. from MA

So the Atom bomb was created to kill humans, and it did, and then it helped us contribute to medical science and so will keep humans alive.

But before you see the positive in that, know that the longer the humans will live, the more there will be, and at our current rate of consumption, it will increase the chance of us destroying the planet. So the atom bomb basically will assist in destroying all life on earth.

And who created it?

We did. Well, basically some men who wanted war.

Oct. 31 2016 06:21 PM
Sandy from Talkeetna, Alaska

I was in and out of this episode. Some of it was good some not. I agree that journalists explaining science is often way off base. Case in point, when the discussion about the elements of the atomic bombs still being available in the atmosphere... I thought that was interesting until the trite way that portion of this program ended. For the reporter to dare to dream that another atomic bomb be exploded was horrifying! I spent my childhood terrified that we were all going to be vaporized in an all world nuclear war. The reporter's insensitive treatment of the topic of nuclear war goes to show that history is no longer taught with any substance or understanding in school, or that she and many others never paid attention. I have now scratched Radio Lab off of my list of NPR programs to listen to and will make my views known to my local public radio station. Hopefully we can get it off of our schedule.

May. 23 2016 02:54 PM
Falafel from Maine

Does anyone know who the poet's were? I couldn't find anything in the emotive fruition website.

May. 22 2016 11:37 PM
dvorah from east

just trying to recoup the dating of my cells -- five days for the gut lining, 14 for skin -- but what was ten years? and etc.?

May. 22 2016 04:46 AM
Not Scientist from Wisconsin

I loved this show.

May. 21 2016 11:26 PM
Rasiel Suarez

A great episode on a subject that seems to be getting more and more coverage. It should have been mentioned that many people now collect samples of the elements with the aim of getting one of each. Fun stuff!

Mar. 28 2016 08:47 PM
Disappointed from California

"Can't believe anyone got through the aimless nonsense at the beginning of this episode";

Feb. 24 2016 08:36 PM
Jonas from Zürich, Switzerland

thanks for the great episode!! :)

Feb. 01 2016 03:22 PM
Bob from Santa Clara CA

From the first minutes of this wonderful episode, my mind furnished the Tom Lear Elements song (remembering from mid 1960s). So glad you added it in. It is a favorite and at the same time, my mind shut up and let me listen to the rest of the show. Good Job people!!

Nov. 18 2015 07:23 PM
Tom from The Hague

Hi Guys,
Can report with much glee that Sylvan Esso recently added Jamie's Song to Spotify. I also feel compelled to declare that this episode encompasses all the very best aspects and inventions of Radiolab. For me that's like a 21st century re-invention of what the Lunar Men did hundreds of years ago; synthesising and sharing science (what was then called philosophy), learning, music, poetry- all of humankind's most amazing discoveries.
Keep up the hard work Team Radiolab, also very much enjoying your more recent episodes.

Nov. 09 2015 08:45 PM
Ali Foss from Bothell, WA

Hello! I am dying to get a copy of the poem Hydrogen by Sarah Salas that was read during this podcast. I loved it and would like to display it at my home :) I could not find it with a google search. I also liked the Helium poem, but I don't remember who that one was by.

Thank you!

Oct. 20 2015 10:38 AM
Nick from Chicago

Hey, it's Dirk from Veristablium!

Oct. 11 2015 09:10 PM
Jack Vlazny from Bristol, England

Another fantastic episode. Cannot wait for the next podcast!

Oct. 03 2015 11:11 PM
Chantal from Curitiba - Paraná - Brazil

The first part of this episode hit hard for me. I just want to share a bit of my conflicted story with lithium. It's not a superation story, fighting mental illness is hard and tiring and unfortunately there are no "wonder drugs".

In 2013 I had my first manic/mixed episode and I was having several delusions. Including one that I was in my death bed. But I was my grandmother that me and my siblings never met because she had a severe and untreated mental problem. It felt like I was seeing my siblings for the first time. It was extremely weird. Then the delusions went on and I started to have suicidal ideations and impulses. I realized something was really wrong and with the help of a friend and my family I admitted myself in a psychiatric clinic.

There they put me on lithium when they found out that I had bipolar.

It did bring me to "normalcy" but I never liked it. I felt mentally slow, in a constant "fog". I was bloated and gained some weight. Then I started reading about the long-therm kidney problems. My depression was getting worse and worse untill I changed psychiatrist and he decided that Lithium was not the drug for me. Now I'm taking other drugs. I still don't feel like my former self, I'm constantly tired and depressed, but I'm functional, somewhat stable and hoping that some day the treatments will be improved.

I've been a listener for a couple of years now, keep up the great work!

Oct. 03 2015 08:03 PM
Rich from Vancouver

Please please please never ever again record someone speaking while they're eating.

Sep. 29 2015 05:31 PM
Jim B from Colorado

With all due respect, we already have way too many "journalists" trying to pretend to be scientists and engineers. Truth is, journalists these days are not even willing to follow their journalistic ethics - their reporting is biased sensationalism intended to brainwash you into a certain point of view, facts be damned. So I have a hard time believing a poor unethical journalist (of which most are) will turn out to be a great and correct physicist.

How about this: entice me (an engineer) with a story from someone who has a frign' clue. Sorry, that leaves journalists, politicians, and lawyers OUT.

Sep. 23 2015 01:36 PM
Dylan from Seattle

Enjoyed this episode and related strongly to the first part as my dad is bipolar and recently had an intense manic episode involving multiple bouts of involuntary hospitalization and forced medication. He was stable on lithium for many years before getting off of it about a decade ago due to kidney damage.

I do think the medications are a useful tool to bring someone down from a manic episode--that was certainly the case for my dad. But I am beginning to question their use as a long term solution. For instance, the fact that someone becomes manic when they stop taking lithium isn't sufficient proof that the medicine was working. It only proves that taking lithium for a long time and then removing it alters the brain chemistry in a way that can propel someone into mania. It could even be the case that taking lithium *increases* the likelihood that someone will become manic when they stop taking it--making "lithium keeps me stable" a self-fulfilling prophecy.

I'm not suggesting I know anything medical professionals don't, but I do think patients should be aware that there are a lot of things we don't know about psychiatric drugs as well as plenty of misinformation, and I believe the medical industry routinely overstates it's confidence in positive outcomes for patients on psychiatric drugs. In taking care of my dad for many years I have learned that it is quite literally a guessing game for the doctors, and sometimes wrong guesses have lead to months or even years of suffering.

I found an article that offered a different perspective from Jamie's piece in the NY Times, I think both make good points and should be read to get a balanced perspective on this issue:

Sep. 19 2015 06:44 PM
A from Nyc

The hippocampus is NOT where you store memories!!!

It is required to MAKE memories, but they are not stored there. This is wrong.

You are normally careful about your fact checking, but this has been known for 50 years and I don't know how you missed it. Look up Brenda Milner's work with HM, the patient whose hippocampus was removed due to epilepsy. He couldn't form new memories, but he retained old memories.

I'm disappointed.

Sep. 17 2015 10:46 AM
Cynthia from Mexico city

You need a scientist checking your facts!!! You are loosing the scientific rigor of the old days... the stuff about the hippocampus being the place where you store your memories is plain wrong and it is not an obscure neuroscience fact.
The artistic aspect of this episode is great though.

Sep. 09 2015 09:16 PM

You guys asking about where to download Jaime's Song can get it here :)

Sep. 08 2015 05:40 PM
S. Case from Los Angeles

I enjoy your shows. The latter part of this show concerns detecting dark matter. I liked the analogy to a "whisper", but the biblical reference reminds me of Elijah not Isaiah.

1 Kings 19, 11:13

"And, behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the LORD; but the LORD was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the LORD was not in the earthquake: And after the earthquake a fire; but the LORD was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice. And it was so, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle, and went out, and stood in the entering in of the cave. And, behold, there came a voice unto him, and said, What doest thou here, Elijah?"

Sep. 06 2015 10:48 PM
Lorna from Hiroshima

Not a scientist so forgive the inept question about carbon dating... Can any kind of dating be gleaned from nuclear accidents rather than the bomb testing mentioned here? I'm thinking of possible data we carry since Chernobyl, Fukushima.

Sep. 05 2015 09:31 PM
Blanka from Seattle, WA

This was a great episode. The story, the music, the sounds, the topic... I love it when I finish listening but my mind is still with the story for a long long time...

Sep. 03 2015 03:56 PM
Emily from Portland, or

My father went through the same situation as Jamie. He was on Lithium for over 30 years and we are thankful for the time we had with him. He too had renal system failure and also opted to switch medications. Unfortunately he endded up severely manic and refused any medications. He was a completely different person much like in the episode. We as a family couldn't assist him due to violence and we didn't have a conservatorship in place because we were never advised we might need one by his physicians. the phsyc hospitals in our area couldn't hold him for more than two days at a time. He started to get in trouble with the police. Eventually a social worker in the local jail recognized his illness and recommended he become a ward of the county about 2 years after he went off the lithium. The county got him back on meds and had him in nursing homes. He was 64 then and lived to 67. We got to visit him a lot over those 3 years and again are thankful. The wear that being manic had and the meds he needed to bring him back down was too much for his body.

There are two things our family learned. Have a living trust established with a conservatorship in place to allow family members to decide for you, you don't know how or what your body will do without the medications. Lastly, strongly consider the possibility of a transplant. I wish my family had, no one even put it on the table as an option and I wish they had now. Good luck to Jamie and all of the families out there undergoing this very real and complex struggle. Thank you radio lab for doing an excellent reporting on such a challenging topic.

Sep. 03 2015 12:20 PM
Sloppy from Stockholm

There it is Robert! You identify with the dilapidated temple rather than the one that is preserved and still functioning. I'm not suggesting it's a wrong view, nor is it a right view but a perspective that has an assumption.

Sep. 03 2015 05:35 AM
Rick from Kentucky

This episode caused me to have a flashback to 1965 when I was just a young nerd. My grandmother bought me a book called Adam’s Atoms by Vernon C.J. Newton. It is a book with a poem for each element (most of them anyway). It was the first time I realized that science and art can go together very well. I remember:

One is for Hydrogen, hip hip Hooray!
Father of elements, born the first day,
This Adam of atoms begat and begat
Till all of creation arrived where it’s at.

Diamonds must dazzle, lampblack must darken.
What casts the shadow? What puts the spark in?
Times’s miracle, Carbon, equal in grace
To brighten a finger or dirty a face.

I still have the book on my book shelf, right next to the CRC Handbook of Chemistry and Physics.

Sep. 02 2015 02:08 PM
Sam from San Antonio, Texas

Haha what's that periodic table song? Made me laugh.

Sep. 02 2015 04:54 AM
Nicole from Kailua

Darcy from novato, ca and ERiK from SLC:

Traditional carbon 14 decay can't be used on living organisms. Carbon 14 (14C is produced naturally in the atmosphere. When an organism dies it stops exchanging carbon with its environment, and from that point onwards the amount of 14C it contains begins to reduce as the 14C undergoes radioactive decay. Measuring the amount of 14
C in a sample from a dead plant or animal such as piece of wood or a fragment of bone provides information that can be used to calculate when the animal or plant died. The older a sample is, the less 14C there is to be detected.

Bomb spike dating works differently, where you examine tissues and determine when they were formed due to our knowledge of when 14C "spiked" in the atmosphere and how it is decaying off. Once the spike has decayed away to pre-bomb levels, this particular method can't be used because new tissues forming will simply have background (i.e. constant) levels of 14C so tissues formed last week will have the same signature as those formed 10 years from now.

simon from mannheim:

"Should We All Take A Bit of Lithium?" by Anna Fels in the New York Times Sept 13 2014

And thank you Jeff Satterley from Brookhaven, NY for the name of thegospel like song at the end

Sep. 01 2015 03:27 PM

This was one of my fav eipsodes.

Sep. 01 2015 01:53 PM
Kristie Jacobs from Washington D.C.

Wouldn't the Nuclear power plant melt down in Japan recently make the nuclear isotopes last longer than 15 years? And change the decay rates?

Sep. 01 2015 10:08 AM
Poet Scientist from Ny, NY

What a fantastic episode! So neat to see the Emotive Fruition POETS featured! More information on them can be found here:

Aug. 31 2015 11:56 AM
Lauren from Colorado

Hi folks at Radiolab,
I am an avid listener, and I always appreciate when you include a heads up about story content although it has never applied to me before.
However, I could have used a heads up before the first story about Jamie. The recordings of her voice during her manic episode were way too familiar. I have bipolar, and have friends with bipolar; watching someone slip into mania is horrific, and those recordings of Jamie captured it perfectly. It isn't something I ever want to listen to. I don't know if anyone else felt the same but I wanted to let you know in juat case.
Anyhoo, keep up the good work!

Aug. 31 2015 10:32 AM
Darcy from novato, ca

I'm also a little confused about the carbon 14 dating. R
The episode implied that in a few years we couldn't use C14 to date cells, but is this not the way we date mummies and other ancient artifacts?

Aug. 30 2015 02:12 AM
Paul from Los Angeles

Wow totally embarrassing moment for a biochemist--I was gonna come online here and correct that iron isn't element 26, it's much much bigger than that, number 55 or 56 I think...

...but wrong! Remedial fail on Chem 101. It absolutely is element 26. It's molecular weight is around 55-56, which is what I was thinking of. That's because the molecular weight is composed not just of the protons, but the neutrons too. Oy... I shame myself as a so-called chemist.

On a totally separate note Jad, the reason fat cells are so old is likely because the entire purpose of storing excess fat is for energy reserve.

The evolutionary motive being that if you have an excess amount of food at any given moment, it's advantageous to be able to tuck away as much of those excess Kilocalories as possible for a time in the future when food might be scarce.

In today's time, at least in the 1st world, the likelihood of any of us facing famine-like conditions at any time, and thus these excess fat reserves just sit there... Never getting used. It's a strange way for an adaptation to become suddenly vestigial lol.

Aug. 29 2015 03:31 AM
Gottfried from NJ

This is not cool RL! Every time I hear them introducing some woman like "Hello my name is..." then as they start talking about her how "wonderful human being" she is my gut jumps into my throat because I know that soon they'll start saying "and then she got really sick" or "she got hit by a car" or "and then she unexpectedly died". Really this show turned into horror stories.

Aug. 29 2015 01:15 AM
Juliet from NYC

Besides the plethora of misinformation and "stretching" of the science in this episode, I am pretty appalled that the woman you talked to (#science lady) said she wishes for another atomic explosion. What an incredibly obtuse thing to say.

Aug. 28 2015 06:34 PM
Nate from Boston

Anyone who is looking for the Sylvan Esso Jaime's song from this episode, you can purchase it for download on Sylvan Esso's Bandcamp page. It was just added today to their Bandcamp page. Cheers!

Aug. 28 2015 02:15 PM
John from us

"Radiolab" has hit a new low with this one. Usually their least interesting/most annoying podcasts occur when another podcast is trying to ride their coattails. This time Radiolab brought it on themselves. If there is anything we need less of, it's pointless human interest drivel that goes nowhere.

Aug. 28 2015 12:42 PM
Glock from Dublin in NYC

Hi Anthony from Boston, poem # 2 is by David McLoghlin, it's from his book, Waiting for Saint Brendan and Other Poems.

Aug. 28 2015 10:09 AM
Rok from London

We were all stars once! Have a look

Aug. 28 2015 07:36 AM
viv from London

I concur: where can I purchase this track please so I can upload it into a loop in my brain

Aug. 28 2015 05:16 AM
Scott from Houston, TX

Please! Jamie's Song!

Aug. 28 2015 12:28 AM
Sara atwood from Portland, OR

Excellent episode. Radiolab is one of my favorite podcasts, consistently stimulating and well presented.
I hope Sylvan Esso will make Jamie's Song available?! I love it--very much want to download it!

Aug. 27 2015 11:30 PM
ryan kravetz from Los Angeles

I have enjoyed Radiolab and there elements stories for a long time. One with Oliver Sacks several years back inspired a film I made called "The Collector's Gift". this weeks episode "Elements" is another inspiring examination of our life's and world.

Aug. 27 2015 07:35 PM
Scott from Eugene

The timing of this episode is uncanny for me. I just came back to work after being manic for a month and a half, not finding a psychiatrist. Finally I was diagnosed bi-polar and issued lithium in another state. But not before I was going to run for president, meant to be the second coming of Christ or prophet, collected all the trash at a truck stop, stuffed my bike frame with beer cans in a bid to rid the earth of cheap beer (whole world was watching of course) ... Then Lithium came along and exactly as she described a slow reawakening back to self, sorting reality from fiction. I feel the same gratitude for Li and this radiolab show. Love Jaime's Song by Sylvan Esso! Download Please!

Aug. 27 2015 04:47 PM
Crystal Randolph

I'll add my voice to the chorus asking for information on where to download "Jaime's Song". Amazing song and amazing podcast, as usual!!

Aug. 27 2015 01:30 PM
Nate from Boston

Totally doc that sylvan esso Jaime's song. Where can it be purchased and downloaded?

Aug. 27 2015 07:32 AM
ERiK from SLC

Carbon 14 occurs naturally in the atmosphere. While nuclear testing has increased the sum of carbon 14, it is not the only source. Carbon 14 is often used for radiocarbon dating up to 50,000 years. How does this information relate to the part of the podcast discussing the age of cells? The scientist #science was talking about initiating another atomic bomb to increase C14. Why?

Aug. 26 2015 06:00 PM
Sara T from Wilmington

This was by far the most poetic, romantic, and beautiful way to synthesize the elements. I listened to it during a walk through the woods and felt so connected to the earth below and view above. This is a wonderful companion to the episode from Oliver Sachs' house. Thank you for creating this.

Aug. 26 2015 03:02 PM
simon from mannheim

Does anyone know which study it is refered to where an increased amount of lithium in the drinking water led to less crime?


Aug. 26 2015 11:49 AM
Anthony from Boston

Amazing episode!!! does anyone know the name of the second poem?

Aug. 26 2015 04:00 AM
Aria from Australia

One of my favourite radiolab episodes ever, thank you for putting together such a wonderful episode. It resonated with me for a few reasons, the first being that I have bipolar and PTSD and have been on lithium since I was 17. Every time I've stopped taking it I've attempted suicide and ended up in intensive care. My dad had a friend die of lithium poisoning in his early 50's so I've been very much aware that the one thing that keeps me alive will most likely be the thing that kills me.
It was also nice to hear that skin regenerates so quickly. It's nice to think that there's not a cell of my skin now that was a part of me when I was abused.

Aug. 25 2015 11:52 PM
Dr Loo from Ft. Lauderdale, Florida

About the statement that "gold is produced in supernova nucleosynthesis"..., the correct..or at least the most probable statement should be that gol is thought to have formed by the R-process in supernova nucleosynthesis, but in 2013, gold (and other elements heavier than iron) creation is best explained by the collision of neutron stars.

Aug. 25 2015 11:08 PM
Dr Loo from ft. Laud.

Lithium are not created in stars. To be fair, they {the stars} do create it, BUT lithium disappear almost immediately after creation.., thus, the best explanation is that Lithium - the one that the girl is taken to control her mania was created OUTSIDE of a star. Only AFTER the explosion..after the supernova nucleosynthesis, is that lithium is created.

Aug. 25 2015 11:01 PM
Akilah C. from Atlanta

Jaime also wrote and incredible piece about this that was published in June.

Aug. 25 2015 08:59 PM
Maya from San Diego

The hippocampus, while definitely necessary for forming new memories and retrieving recent ones, plays little to no role in your old memories. There is decades of research, particularly on patients like H.M. and E.P. who are missing their hippocampus and the surrounding structures, that show their memories for their childhoods and early adulthoods leading up to the surgery/illness are intact and sometimes better than their contemporaries. It's a process called systems (or memory) consolidation. The mechanisms are still being debated and researched, but it's very clear that after a certain point in time, your memories become independent of the hippocampus to some degree.

Aug. 25 2015 03:58 PM
Marcus from Madison

The first song after the opening intro sounds like Spires That In The Sunset Rise, but I am not certain.

Aug. 25 2015 12:34 PM
Mark from Seattle

Found the piece I was looking for in case anyone is interested.

Background music right after the intro...

Sand Partina
by Oneohtrix Point Never

Aug. 25 2015 12:29 PM
Steve B from Bloomington, IL

@Seth from Albuquerque - You are correct that a supernova is not required to produce lithium and I also noticed that they intentionally skipped lithium when describing fusion. That being said, supernovae do also produce significant amounts of lithium along with many other elements that are lighter than iron.

Aug. 25 2015 12:19 PM
Mark from Seattle

I started listening to this episode moments before I arrived at work...looking forward to hearing the rest as always!

Does anyone know the name of the music in the background at the very beginning - starting right after the intro? A beautiful spacey piece. Is this one of Jad's?

Aug. 25 2015 11:47 AM
Jeff Satterley from Brookhaven, NY

@Mike Groseth - the last song is by the Spirit of Memphis Quartet. I think this is the same recording:

Aug. 25 2015 10:55 AM
Seth from Albuquerque

The big bang was a soup of elementary particles from which three elements (H, He, and Li) formed once the universe had sufficiently expanded and cooled, by far the least of which was lithium.

Most lithium is produced (and destroyed!) in stars. Our own sun can make it (although temperature conditions easily destroy it!). In fact our sun, which is not very big, is massive enough to make Oxygen, but no larger elements. Just consider the second part of the episode, where the discussion turns to the production of elements in stars. Two hydrogen make a helium (1+1=2), two helium make a carbon (2+2=4), etc... but why'd we skip element #3? One hydrogen plus one helium makes...(1+2=3) Lithium! If this type of combination didn't exist, we'd have a geometric series (1,2,4,8,16,...) of elements! There is of course significantly more nuance to this.

Additionally, supernovae are only necessary to create elements greater than iron. This is due to nuclear binding energy as discussed in the second part of the episode, where iron is most stable. All other stars produce elements up to the allowance of the given mass.

It seems hyperbolic to tie the first story all the way back to the big bang, especially when the second story seems to intentionally dismiss the ability to create lithium in stars, especially when it is such a simple step.

Is this a case of not letting facts get in the way of a good story? Without the facts, for me at least, the story is ruined.

Aug. 25 2015 10:10 AM
MG from Long Island

My God. I had such an emotional reaction the beginning of this Podcast and it was exactly the closure I needed. I had two manic episodes before going on Lithium and they weren't silly or random, but were very important to me and how I defined myself. The first time I thought I was the Oracle at Delphi and the second time I was convinced that I was Jesus Christ, which to anybody would sound crazy, but to me made me feel sacred and important. When I first started taking Lithium I felt that my experience of the world had become profane. I hated Lithium because I thought it robbed me of a birthright. I never thought deeply about what it was and what it means to have it coursing through my body. The interesting perspective that this episode put forth, in a way, helped my redeem the sacred that I thought I had lost in a way that promotes, instead of jeopardizes, my well-being. 900mg b.i.d. and you know what, I'm okay with that now.

Aug. 25 2015 09:35 AM
Steve B from Bloomington, IL

While it is true that Lithium was one of the three elements created in the big bang, it is NOT TRUE that all lithium came from the big bang. Lithium is created by supernovae along with most other elements.

Aug. 25 2015 08:44 AM
Mike Groseth from Cincinnati

Would also really love the name and artistic the ending song- atomic telephone? I found bunches of songs like it but not that one ezactly. Any help would be super!!

Aug. 25 2015 12:45 AM
Ross from Baltimore

Does the spiritual around the fifty minute mark have a title? Spirituals and folk songs like that from the past that spoke directly about their times are a favourite of mine.

Aug. 24 2015 11:46 PM
Evelyn from Los Angeles

Looking for Sylvan Esso's "Jaime's Song" to download. Know where I can find it? Thanks for such a great episode! :)

Aug. 24 2015 11:35 PM
Phill from Austin

is that Sylan Esso song available anywhere? Awesome! Great episode.

Aug. 24 2015 11:20 PM

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