Small Matters is an audio series that tells stories about the little things in life: chemistry. It’s an invisible world of crackling power and fundamental stability that lies deep within and all around us. Join us as we zoom in on what holds it all together — and sometimes blows it apart.




Ari Daniel has always been enchanted by the natural world. As a kid, he packed his green Wildlife Treasury box full of species cards. As a graduate student, Ari trained gray seal pups (Halichoerus grypus) and helped tag wild Norwegian killer whales (Orcinus orca). These days, Ari is a science reporter, and he records a species he’s better equipped to understand – Homo sapiens. He uses radio and multimedia to tell stories about science and the environment on public radio and online. In the fifth grade, Ari won the “Most Contagious Smile” award.


Meisa Salaita has made it her mission to help people see beauty in chemistry. After exploring the subject in depth in graduate school, Meisa spent a few years teaching high school. During her time in the classroom, Meisa not only spread her love of chemistry to her students, but also taught the kids about her other passion – sculpture. Nowadays, Meisa explores the intersection of science and art through a different type of teaching – to the public. In addition to her work on Small Matters and as a contributing writer at HowStuffWorks, Meisa co-founded and co-directs the Atlanta Science Festival.


Small Matters is produced by the Center for Chemical Evolution with funding from the National Science Foundation and additional support from NASA.  Our editor is Eileen Bolinsky and our musician is Shane Winter. Our story illustrations are by Heather Larkin.

A special thanks goes to Andrew Vaughn and Trident University for their contribution to this project.


Produced by The NSF/NASA Center for Chemical Evolution


Where did we come from? How did life begin? How did we go from a collection of molecules on the early Earth, to living creatures that can walk and think? The Center for Chemical Evolution is a national research collaboration in pursuit of answers to those questions. The CCE is funded by the National Science Foundation and the NASA Astrobiology Program (NSF Center for Chemical Innovation: CHE-1004570).