Light My Fire

  • By Anna Rothschild
  • Posted 12.15.11
  • NOVA

The ability of the elements to change phase—to transform from a solid to a liquid to a gas—is a perfect set-up for romantic comedy. Watch the story of an unlikely laboratory love affair, and learn about one of the basic properties of matter in the process.

Got your own science joke? Post it on our Facebook page!

Running Time: 01:18


Comic Science

First...the science (this will only take a second).

All elements on Earth can be found in one of three states, called "phases":

  1. solid
  2. liquid
  3. gas

Elements can change from one phase to another based on the temperature and pressure of the environment.

And now...the joke!

A small piece of sodium living in a test tube fell in love with his neighbor, a Bunsen burner.

Sodium: Bunsen, my love! I melt whenever I see you.

Bunsen: Oh, it's just a phase you're going through.

The End



Video short produced by
Anna Rothschild
Original Footage
© WGBH Educational Foundation 2011


(sodium and flame)
© WGBH Educational Foundation 2011

Related Links

  • Hunting the Elements

    A two-hour special from the producers of "Making Stuff"

  • It's Elemental

    In this interactive periodic table, explore the elements and their properties and abundances.

  • An Elemental Quiz

    Test your knowledge of chemistry basics and trivia.

  • Island of Stability

    A nuclear chemist aims to create entirely new elements to add to the periodic table.