Now, a team of scientists at the University of Plymouth is attempting to demystify the ingredient list, in the hopes of raising awareness of the environmental and human impact of our devices. They’re doing so in the most brute-force way possible: grinding up phones and measuring the elements inside.
As a preliminary demonstration of their work, the just-released video below details the team’s chemical analysis of an iPhone 4S. Arjan Dijkstra, a lecturer in igneous petrology and one of the lead scientists behind the project, told Earther that his team initially detected at least 39 elements in the phone. They would have detected more, he said, but “just wanted to focus on the most abundant ones,” for the purposes of the demonstration. (Other experts previously told me that an iPhone contains about 75 elements. Apple didn’t comment at the time.)
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