Friday, 22 April 2011

Eggs and Curing Cancer

Okay, no more egg puns.

But pleased to say we've finished our collection of "Easter Specials for Sixty Symbols".

They've been well received and attracted some attention from various media and bloggers.

Here are some examples from a Guardian Blogger and New Scientist.



Looking at the YouTube comments, the response has been overwhelmingly positive.

But of course you get a few comments about wasted time. A typical example, using a rather tired cliche:

"This is what scientists do instead of trying to cure cancer"

These comments tend to get hounded down by other viewers, who respond with comments like:

"Why people are moaning about this is why they haven't cured cancer and about wasting time... for all anyone knows this was done in free time and even the most random things can bring out good ideas... plus no one can expect anyone to be solidly working all day"



It's not an issue that bothers me. But sometimes I feel like responding.

First I'd say all videos like this are done in downtime. We wait for opportunities when the equipment's not being used for real science.

Sometimes we wait for weeks or months.

For example, the MRI scanner (a research scanner which isn't used for medical work) was used after work on a Tuesday night - and we waited weeks for the chance.

And outreach is an important part of science... In fact, "public engagement" is REQUIRED when most science is funded these days!

So rather than simply visiting a local school and explaining your job - why not be creative and find new audiences?



These egg videos have clearly reached a mixed audience.

And while it's not always showcasing REAL research, it is based on real work.

The videos contain information about the equipment, principles and work of scientists - sometimes we've just been subtle about it.

I'm sure some of our viewers have subsequently sought more information about biomechanics or MRI or pendulums or extra dimensions.

As one young viewer wrote: "Thanks for this, tomorrow I will ask some of my teachers on college about this."

At the very least we've YouTube viewers to think about science... And that can't be bad?

Who knows? Maybe one of those youngsters will go on to cure cancer one day!?



Oh, and we've demonstrated one other important fact that's often overlooked...

Scientists are just like everyone else - they like to have fun at holiday time!

3 comments:

  1. As a scientist who is trying to cure cancer I can honestly tell you that: often times these videos are our downtime, if it wasn't for downtime we would all go nuts, some of the best ideas are born from conversations floating above pizza and beer, we are desperate for funding so negative comments about positive outreach is counterproductive and when I share these wonderful clips I get great responses from both my sciencey and non-sciencey friends. Keep up the great work!! (my sanity may depend on it)

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  2. Does that person also think that every single type of scientist is actively working to cure cancer?

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  3. Quoting new Scientist:

    "A Creme Egg would have to be moving at more than 21,000 kilometres per hour for its kinetic energy to match its chemical energy."

    That's not enough to stay in Orbit around the earth (Wikipedia: 28476 km/h).

    Cadbury should do something about it.

    Happy Easter

    -Herbert

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