The Mystery of Matter: Search for the Elements tells
the stories of seven extraordinary scientists whose discoveries,
spanning nearly two centuries, laid the foundation for the modern
understanding of matter. Knitting these stories into a coherent whole is
host Michael Emerson, a two-time Emmy Award-winning actor. Emerson is
not present in every scene, as Jacob Bronowski and James Burke were in
their landmark series Ascent of Man and Connections.
But neither is he a “bookend” celebrity who appears only at the
beginning and end of the programs. Instead, he appears 4-6 times per
hour, often performing a chemical demonstration or interacting with
graphics to make a key point in a lively way.
of the host’s main roles is to maintain the sense of mystery throughout
the series. Emerson continually reminds viewers that matter was
a mystery for the scientists we’ll be featuring – that these men and
women were searching for answers without the benefit of later
discoveries we now take for granted; and that each time they solved one
mystery, another one arose. Emerson serves as our guide, leading viewers
on a journey of discovery as we retrace the steps of the “chemical
detectives” who, clue by hard-won clue, solved the mystery of matter.