Rolling back the clock to just after the end of the first world war, we join a team of scientists. They’re working on a curious new metal, uranium. It’s a difficult job to refine it to pure uranium. Time goes by and we follow the life of Tom, the mechanical engineer of the team. He meets and marries the love of his life, and eventually has a baby, but no progress has been forthcoming with metal x.
By the time Tom’s baby is a year old, he moves on, only to learn the years wasted on research only seems to prove the strange metal is useless for it’s intended purpose in lamp filaments. Elections come and go, and we learn the jury is still out on metal x. With a new war looming, the scientists get a break when the government wants tons of the new metal.
A new problem arises due to the difficulty in producing enough of the metal from it’s ore. Methods of refining it are pushed to its limits. The benefit is the mass production greatly reduces the cost of metal x. Another benefit is that metal x played a part in freedom, and in shortening the war.