Monday, 28 February 2011

Potassium and Water

During a recent clear out, we uncovered some of my wife's old school books.

She was never a great fan of science, but has grown to appreciate the subject through watching my endless videos.

Today let's see what she had to say about potassium (or pottasium, as she spelt it!)

All good so far... And next we get to its all-important reactivity!

Reactive with water... Let's see if The Periodic Table of Videos agree with that?

Finally, what dd the teacher have to say!?

Click for the full page on Flickr.

That's it for today's lesson, but stay tuned for more gems from the school book archives!!!

Friday, 25 February 2011

Top of the Pops

Surprised and happy to see one of our videos has been the top download on iTunesU (that's the university part of iTunes).

We don't put many of our periodicvideos onto iTunes because it has always seemed a lot of extra work for only a handful of viewers.

But if people are starting taking an interest, that'll encourage us to pop them on more regularly.



(Our thanks to Andrew Burden at the university who helps out with iTunes stuff).

For the record, it was this video about Crude Oil that has been most downloaded.

Thursday, 24 February 2011

Lap of a Synchrotron

This is supposed to be a science video with bit of a difference.

It's a narrated lap of the Diamond Light Source – the huge synchrotron in Oxfordshire, UK.

It’s worth noting the time it takes to complete this circuit is about eight minutes… The electrons below us take about two millionths of a second!

Narrating as we walk is expert Claire Pizzey, explaining what happens along the various beam lines.

After spending an hour or two filming around Diamond, we filmed the "lap video' as an after-thought.

But I think showing it without editing gives an interesting and very real impression of what it's like to walk around the huge building.

For a snappier look at Diamond - including other areas such as the experiment hutches - here's an earlier video:

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

The boss makes his choice

The latest contributor to My Favourite Scientist is an interesting one.

It's Professor Neil Gorman (pictured), the Vice-Chancellor of Nottingham Trent University (NTU).

For those who don't know, the Vice-Chancellor is the uni's top boss.

In Professor Gorman's case, his background is in veterinary science - so it was little surprise that he chose a veterinary scientist for this video.

His choice was William "Bill" Jarrett - not only a great scientist, but someone Professor Gorman knows personally.

To clarify, NTU is one of two universities in Nottingham.

The other is The University of Nottingham (UoN).

Many of my projects, such as periodicvideos and Sixty Symbols, are collaborations with UoN.

But My Favourite Scientist is a project with NTU.

More of our viewers

More great pictures of our viewers continue to come in!!!

Here are a few more examples... Take one of yourself with our website or videos and send it to

(Our video inviting pictures is at the bottom of this blog entry)

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Pictures of Viewers

I'm trying to put together a collection of pictures of Periodic Table of Videos viewers.

Ideally I'd like the pictures to show people at their computers, with the website or YouTube channel.

We've already had some pictures come through (see a few below). They'll be used to make a montage of viewers on our website and probably in a video.

A selection of entries will be randomly chosen for some prizes (but in typical PTOV stye, they'll be more quirky than expensive!)

If you happen to watch the videos and want to help out, email me a pic.

The address is

Feel free to include some info about who you are and where you are!? But only if you want to!

Monday, 21 February 2011

A paper in Nature Chemistry

We've been fortunate enough to publish a commentary in the highly-regarded journal Nature Chemistry, discussing how to measure the impact of our videos.

It's a rather inexact science, as you'll see in our paper.

And even better, the publishers have made the article freely available for the next month - so anyone can read it without a paid subscription (UPDATE: This free offer has now lapsed... sorry!)

Our thanks to Nature Chemistry.

Click here for the article online.

And click here to download as a PDF.

What a lovely treat as we prepare to upload our 300th film to The Periodic Table of Videos.

Saturday, 19 February 2011

Sun Gazing and X Flares

The latest videos I've been editing feature Dr Chris Davis - a space scientist at RAL Space who primarily works on data from the STEREO spacecraft.

The films are for the Backstage Science series.

Here is the first film, which is an overview from Chris about his work. I especially love the footage of the comet at the end.

There are a few more films to come from Chris, which I'll be uploading to YouTube very soon.

However after filming, news broke about a solar flare ejecting some material towards the Earth.

My journalist training took over and I rushed back to Chris (visiting his house early in the morning) so we could film an extra bit about this.

Here it is:

Thursday, 17 February 2011

New Captions and Subtitles

Stuck in a hotel room on a Thursday night, I have uploaded and updated some captions on our videos.

To get captions working, use the button under the player (with the little triangle on it)

First here's the embedded playlist of videos with English captions - all 122 of them. Note these have been transcribed by people, not YouTube's erratic automatic caption system!

(Small arrows which appear at the left and right side of frame allow you to scroll through the captioned various films)

And here is the up-to-date playlist of captions in Portuguese courtesy of our friend in Brazil, Luis Brudna. Amazingly, he has done 149 videos for us... Each one painstakingly captioned with detailed timings for each caption to pop up on screen.

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Say Cheese

Today the Periodic Table of Videos team got together for a "photo shoot".

A professional photographer came along to snap some pictures we needed for various reasons.

1. To update the pics on our website, especially the main pic at the top.

2. For some publicity purposes at the university.

3. To sign when people send in autograph requests... yes, it happens!

We had nine people there: The Professor Martyn Poliakoff, Neil Barnes, Pete Licence, Debbie Kays, Steve Liddle, Sam Tang, Darren Walsh, Rob Stockman and myself.

Only John Moses couldn't make it.

It was the first time everyone from the project had been in one room together and it was quite a good laugh.

I will reveal some of the pics as soon as we have them.

In the meantime, here are a few pics from our previous shoot, done a couple of years ago when the team was smaller!

Sunday, 13 February 2011

The Force of Attraction

Sixty Symbols is marking Valentine's Day with a video about attraction.

But the attraction we're talking about can be pretty powerful - in fact it can hold the nucleus of an atom together.

There was so much to say about this, we also posted some unused footage on Test Tube.

Or click here to see the Valentine's Day video we made for the Periodic Table of Videos.

It's all about "the perfect perfume".

Friday, 11 February 2011

Backstage at a Synchrotron

Here's the latest addition to my new series, Backstage Science.

This video is a look at the Diamond Light Source - an amazing synchrotron not far from Oxford, UK.

I've previously posted videos about the MIRI Space Camera.

And there's plenty more to come from science facilities across the country.

The series is new and still building a following, so feel free to help me out and share with friends.

It can followed on YouTube, Twitter and Facebook.

The Perfect Perfume

For Valentine's Day we've made a special video for The Periodic Table of Videos.

Essentially we've made a perfume, with all members of the team adding ingredients (except Steve, who was away in London).

I should stress the video is just a bit of fun - it is certainly not a recipe we'd recommend for human use!

The ingredients of "Mendeleev's Dream" are as follows:

Vanillin - the smell of vanilla
Mendeleev brand Vodka
Citronellol - the smell of lemons
Eugenol - smell of cloves
Cinnamaldehyde - the smell of cinnamon
Boron Trioxide - because Debbie loves Boron
Chocolate (Theobromine) - to provide the feeling of love
Hippodamine - a Ladybird Attractant
Platinum - to add some bling and glamour
Direct Red 23 - to give it a red Valentine's colour
Technician Neil's "Ingredient X"

We've even done a bit of market research, as seen in this "bonus video" for Test Tube:

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

The Atlas of Creation

A regular talking point among Sixty Symbols viewers is a book on the shelf of astronomer Mike Merrifield.

As you can see in the picture, it is hard to miss The Atlas of Creation.

It causes so much discussion because the book is a creationist text.

Quite some time ago we made a video to explain why the Professor Merrifield (certainly not a creationist) owns a copy of the book.

We sometimes joke about removing the book just to stop the distracting comments.

However Professor Merrifield is quite stubborn, and I can't see him bowing to "public pressure".

And besides... It has become such a fixture in the videos that its removal would probably cause even more internet chatter!

Love is in the air...

So Valentine's Day is nearly upon us and I think we've devised two videos to make for the occasion - one each for Periodic Table of Videos and Sixty Symbols.

If we can find time to make them this week....

Ahead of that, here are a couple of previous efforts.

First, last year's Valentine's video from Sixty Symbols:

And chocolate and roses from or chemistry project:

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Test Tube's 300th

Just uploaded Test Tube's 300th video to our YouTube channel at

It is a quick look at the University of Nottingham's so-called "Technology Demonstrator" - a treasure trove of inventions and innovations.

Another 300 milestone is imminent with The Periodic Table of Videos currently sitting on 296 films!

Sunday, 6 February 2011

My Video Projects

A newer version of this summary can can be found AT THIS LINK

A summary of video journalist Brady Haran's various video projects.

Here you'll find links and a brief description of each main project - and a sample video.


A video about every element on the periodic table... 118 of them. All the elements have been done, but we're updating the films with new stories and better demonstrations. Plus we do extra videos on molecules, road trips, chemistry news and other cool stuff.  A collaboration with the University of Nottingham's School of Chemistry.



All about physics and astronomy, loosely based around the symbols used by scientists. We also post regular videos in response to viewer questions. A collaboration with the University of Nottingham's School of Physics and Astronomy.



This is a new project all about numbers, part of an exciting YouTube project to encourage more original content on its website. Stay tuned for videos throughout 2012.


As with Numberphile, this a part of YouTube's new program of original videos. Here we're looking at distant objects in space, starting with an attempt to make videos about the famous Messier Catalogue of objects. But also venturing into other areas of astronomy.


The project which started it all. It's essentially a look behind the scenes in the world of science. Not just the typical stuff you see on TV, but the real story of triumph and failure... warts and all!

It also features out-takes and extra footage from other projects, such as Periodic Table of Videos and Sixty Symbols.


This project involves going backstage at some of the UK's top science facilities. They're mainly places run by the Science and Technology Facilities Council. The stories include the secret life of lasers, particle accelerators and spacecraft construction.



This is a new video project, all about the science of food. Topics range from flavour to fast food - food security to crop technology. Another project in collaboration with the University of Nottingham.



A video about every book in the Bible, from Genesis to Revelation. Not religious, rather an academic look at the most famous collection of books in history. Includes plenty of footage shot "on location" in Israel. And a new series all about verses.



A look at the story and history of various words, explained by experts in modern language and culture. Many of the videos focus on words which have their origins in other languages but are now used in English.



Scientists discuss some of their professional heroes. The "favourites" range from some of the most famous names in science through to humble people you've probably not heard of. A collaboration with Nottingham Trent University.



This was just a short project with a few philosophy experts. We've stopped for now and considering doing more perhaps?

The Return of the Dirt Collector

PhD student Ed Tripp studies soil samples from across the UK.

He's interested in how the soil affects the growth of heather plants, which are under threat across the country.

I've made several Test Tube films with him before... Here is the latest.

And here is all the Dirt Collector films together in a playlist.