Are chemical elements critical for the modern economy in dangerously short supply? It's a question that Justin Rowlatt poses a century and a half after the Russian chemist Dmitry Mendeleev published the original periodic table.
Justin speaks to two chemists - Andrea Sella of University College London explains the significance of Mendeleev's scheme to the modern world, while David Cole-Hamilton talks us through an updated version of the table he has just published that highlights chemical elements that could run out within the next century unless we learn to make better use of them.
However, perhaps we don't need to worry just yet, at least not for two of those red-flagged elements. Thomas Abraham-Jones describes how he happened across the world's biggest reserve of helium in the African savannah, while Rick Short of Indium Corporation explains why the metallic element his company is named after is in abundant supply, so long as you don't mind sifting an awful lot of dirt for it.
(Picture: Manuscript of Mendeleev's first periodic system of elements; Credit: Science & Society Picture Library/SSPL/Getty Images)
As the UK parliament votes to delay Brexit beyond 29 March, businesses brace for yet more uncertainty. But will the EU even be willing to grant a delay?
Manuela Saragosa speaks to companies on both sides of the English Channel. British Barley farmer Matt Culley says he now has to plant his coming year's crop with no clue whether or how he will even be able to export his produce to breweries in Germany come harvest time.
Meanwhile Chayenne Wiskerke, who runs the world's biggest onion exporting operation from the Netherlands, expresses her exasperation that with two weeks to go, every possible outcome - from delay, to cancellation, to the UK leaving without any agreement at all - remains on the table.
But fear not says David Henig, director of the UK Trade Policy Project at the European Centre for International Political Economy. He explains why he thinks a year's delay is the most likely outcome.
(Picture: A pro Brexit supporter holds up a placard that reads 'Just Leave' outside the Houses of Parliament; Credit: John Keeble/Getty Images)
The brewer has been accused of complicity with Africa's murkiest politics, and of failing to protect female brand promoters from sexual harassment. But can a company really separate itself from its political environment?
Manuela Saragosa hears from the Dutch investigative journalist Olivier van Beemen, whose book Heineken in Africa makes multiple accusations against the company, including collusion with the regimes of Burundi and DR Congo. Plus Heineken provides its response.
But is it a case of damned if you do, and damned if you don't? When a company finds that it cannot control what is happening on the ground in a politically challenging country, should it simply pull out of the country altogether? Human rights lawyer Elise Groulx Diggs of Doughty Street Chambers gives us her view.
(Picture: Heineken logo on a beer bottle; Credit: Jaap Arriens/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
A continued political crisis in the UK means more uncertainty for businesses. We hear from the boss of a manufacturing company in Birmingham and Nicole Sykes, head of EU negotiations at the UK business group the CBI, as well as the BBC's Rob Watson in Westminster and Adam Fleming in Strasbourg.
(Photo: A protester carries an EU flag in London, Credit: Getty Images)
Ed Butler reports from Ukraine ahead of the presidential elections scheduled for the end of March. With endemic corruption and ongoing conflict with Russian-backed rebels in the east, what verdict will the voters give to the President Petro Poroshenko? Ed Butler speaks with MP Serhiy Leschenko who's recently left Poroshenko's Solidarity faction over concerns about corruption and nepotism.
Other candidates include the former Prime Minister Yulia Timoshenko and comedian and actor Volodymyr Zelensky. Olesia Verchenko from the Kyiv School of Economics says she has doubts about all of them.
And Deputy Minister of Health Pavlo Kovtoniuk explains measures taken within the healthcare service to clean up its act.
This programme was produced by Anna Noryskiewicz.
PHOTO: Anti-corruption protest in Kyiv, Ukraine. Copyright: Ed Butler, BBC
In India experts and parents increasingly question whether the country's education system is fit for purpose. With huge emphasis placed on college entrance exams and academic degrees - like engineering, medicine or law - we are exploring what consequences that has on children's overall development. We visit an unorthodox school which uses Harry Potter to develop critical thinking and we find out whether the economy would be better served by encouraging vocational training.
PHOTO: Students seen coming out of the examination centre at Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan School in New Delhi, India. Credit: Getty Images
In a world designed by men for men, women often come off worst, sometimes with fatal consequences.
Manuela Saragosa speaks to author Caroline Criado Perez about the gender data gap - the fact that everything from smartphone health apps to lapel microphones is designed with a male body in mind, and how for example cardiovascular problems in women go under-diagnosed because the female body is treated as "atypical".
This blind spot for women is built into our work environments in large part because the people designing those environments are mostly men. So how do we get more women into positions of power? The answer, according to organisational psychologist Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic, is not to ease the way for women to reach the top, but rather to make it more difficult for so many incompetent over-confident men to do so.
Plus, Kathryn Colas, founder of consultancy Simply Hormones, explains how the affect of the menopause on women in the workplaces is only just beginning to be recognised by employers.
Is the US sugar industry's relationship with politicians, from Florida to Washington DC, just a little bit too sweet?
Gilda Di Carli reports from the Sunshine State, where the newly elected Governor Ron DeSantis has vowed to take on the sugarcane lobby, which he blames for impeding efforts to tackle the gigantic algae blooms that have blighted Florida's rivers and coasts.
Meanwhile Manuela Saragosa speaks to Guy Rolnik, professor of strategic management at the Chicago Booth School, about two of the industry's wealthiest and most politically connected magnates, Alfy and Pepe Fanjul. Plus Ryan Weston of the Sugar Cane League - which represents US growers including the Fanjuls - explains why he thinks the industry gets an unfair rap from the media.
(Picture: Sugar cubes on black background; Credit: tuchkovo/Getty Images)
Elizabeth Hotson tracks the rise of sugar as a luxury good and its transformation into a staple of western diets. Sara Pennell, a Senior Lecturer in History at the University of Greenwich will explain some of sugar's history as well as the dark strands of human history that made it affordable for so many. We’ll also hear about sugar addiction, the efforts to reduce the sugar content of western diets and the companies resisting the change.
Picture: An assortment of chocolates; Credit: Elizabeth Hotson)
Does a falling currency help or harm the economy? It's an urgent question for the UK, as the pound fell sharply in value against other major currencies after the referendum on Britain’s membership of the European Union in June 2016. Market commentators put this down to foreign investors becoming intensely gloomy about the prospects for the UK economy after Brexit. Others have welcomed the drop, saying it will benefit British exporters. But is it really such a simple, binary question? Paul Johnson, director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies investigates.
(Picture: A monitor at a trader's desk shows the dip in the value of the pound in the City of London on January 16, 2019; Credit: PAUL ELLIS/AFP/Getty Images)