I think what Ben Rothersburger does is
"He is a brilliant chemist, I think. He told me that he can turn a radioactive metal into a gas!" Grandpa.
"And Ben said he can also turn a couple of gases into a couple of different gases very quickly" Grandpa with a smile.
"O yes son. He can even take the stuff from the matches and turn ...
After taking some substances I noticed the vivid* colors** and patterns hidden within this gift of nature:
How much raw information is within each unit?
With this, we can do the following for each unit
If we do this for all units, the abstracted tree now looks like this
So the main message this tree holds is:
Regarding the specific questions posed ...
To follow on from @Randal'Thor's findings and our discussions in comments, I believe I have now sussed that the mystery country the OP is seeking is:
To find this, firstly note that Exhibits 1, 2 and 3 are supposed to be 'equivalent' (as per Hint 1). We have already sussed that we are supposed to extract specific letters from the name of the countries and ...
Identifying the countries
An important realisation, along with recognising maps, is that
Exhibit 1 - two parts
Exhibit 2 - four parts
Exhibit 3 - one part
Exhibit 4 - twelve parts
(thanks to @Stiv for some help here!)
The OP says that "Exhibits 1, 2, and 3 demonstrate equivalency", so maybe we're meant to get:
Then the meaning of ...
I believe - after some searching with keywords involving 'coat of arms with three escallops argent and a book' - this is the crest of:
This would fit with your suggestion of it possibly belonging to a South African university...
This does not require being a particularly brilliant chemist—nor does it require any trickery or riddling. All of these operations are possible, if not straightforward.
He told me that he can turn a radioactive metal into a gas!
As just one example, the radioactive metal uranium (U) can be converted into a gas. In fact, this is a normal step in the process ...