Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Snaps from Rio

Just back from Rio De Janiero, Brazil, where I did plenty of filming with Professor Poliakoff for the Periodic Table of Videos.

It might be a short while until the videos are edited, but here are some snapshots to give a flavour of the trip.

If you look closely, one of the world's great landmarks is dwarfed by Professor Poliakoff's hair.

Here I am, a bit closer to Cristo Redentor.

The famous statue (and it's miniature cousins) are carved from soapstone. We'll be talking about this in an upcoming video.

A periodic table display at a Rio museum was an important part of our visit - stay tuned for more details.

Professor Rodrigo Souza was our host in Rio - he showed us all the best restaurants!

We also finally go to met Professor Luis Brudna, who does all our Portuguese captions.

Brazil's national cocktail is the Caipirinha. I agreed to drink a few in the name of science!

I joined Professor Poliakoff only for the Rio leg of his trip to Brazil... But fans have been emailing me pics from Sao Paulo and Florianópolis.

It seems everyone wants a snap with The Prof.

A dandelion between two roses!?

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

The Prof at Cheltenham

Here's a chance to meet The Professor and hear him lecture!

Professor Poliakoff and Dr Samantha Tang (both regulars on periodicvideos.com) will be speaking at the Cheltenham Science Festival.

The lecture's happening at 4.30pm on Saturday June 11 in the Town Hall.

The topic will be one of the professor's great passions - Green Chemistry!

Tickets cost £6 and can be booked at this link.

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

66 books in 66 seconds

We're just about to start a new series of videos for Bibldedex.

But first I've created this little montage to remind people of what we've done already - an expert video about every book in the Bible.

Follow Bibledex on Twitter and Facebook.

Sunday, 22 May 2011

A 1,000-mile drive

Clocked a shade under 1,000 miles in the car this weekend on a road trip to Scotland.

Collected all sorts of footage and interviews for various video projects.

Here are a few glimpses to whet the appetite.

Thursday, 19 May 2011

The many moods of Neil Barnes

Dr Pete Licence just texted me this very moody photo of our "cult hero technician" Neil Barnes.

Neil's more formally attired because he was helping set-up experiments for a professor's inaugural lecture - always a special occasion in a chemistry department.

I don't know if Pete did it on purpose, but the fire extinguisher is a great touch in this photo.

For those unfamiliar with Neil's work, I'd suggest the two videos below...

An Ethiopian Honour

Most people will know I'm NOT a scientist despite making films about science.

So an email received yesterday was somewhat unexpected.

The Chemical Society of Ethiopia has voted to make me an honorary member.

The association with Ethiopia is through the University of Nottingham's School of Chemistry, with who I make The Periodic Table of Videos.

Both Dr Pete Licence and Prof Martyn Poliakoff have a long tradition of collaboration with Ethiopian scientists.

In 2008 I traveled with Pete to Addis Ababa, where we made a series of films.

It was great fun and enjoyable to meet a range of African scientists.

Their accomplishments are more extraordinary when you hear stories of how they struggle with so few resources.

It can take months to have chemicals delivered to their labs and communication can be slow by modern standards.

I hope to visit Ethiopia again - and perhaps meet more of my new "colleagues" in the Chemical Society of Ethiopia!

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

The Professor's new job

Professor Martyn Poliakoff has had exciting news.

He has been nominated to become the next Foreign Secretary of the Royal Society.

In-keeping with tradition, The Professor is the only nominee (so should be elected without fuss).

To the layman this may not seem impressive.

But The Royal Society is one of the world's most prestigious scientific academies.

And Foreign Secretary is one of its top positions, with a remit to build relationships around the world.

It's a part-time role, but The Professor can expect to be extremely busy and will doubtless be racking up many air miles!

The University of Nottingham has agreed to lighten his load in terms of research and teaching.

But don't worry, The Professor has already vowed that The Periodic Table of Videos won't suffer.

I asked him about it in this video, which explains the society and his new role within it:

And here is some extra interview footage:

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Einstein Chocolate

I'm often amused by the gifts received by Professor Poliakoff (one of the stars of The Periodic Table of Videos).

This is the latest offering, from a chemistry colleague who had visited Albert Einstein's birthplace of Ulm, in Germany.

Here's a very old video from my first interview with Professor Poliakoff in which we discussed his resemblance to Einstein:

Sunday, 15 May 2011

California and other words

Have resumed making Words of the World videos in recent weeks after a brief break due to other commitments.

The most recent is about the origins of California, which I found intriguing.

It turns out the famous state was simply named after a fictional land from a popular story of the time - sort of like calling it Narnia or Hoth?

Other recent videos include sherry and disappeared, bee below.

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Platinum award winners

The Periodic Table of Videos has been named a winner at the Creativity International 41st Media & Interactive Awards.

Being chemistry buffs, we've of course noted that we won a platinum award (as opposed to the lesser gold and silver gongs!)

Apparently we'll end up with a certificate and trophy - and be mentioned in some kind of fancy book about the awards.

We'll also be included in a "traveling exhibit" at the AAF National Conference in San Diego next month.

So that's nice!

PS: Special mention to team member Samantha Tang who wrote our successful submission.

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

The Bearded Scientist

This is William Perkin, one of many old-time scientists who had a beard.

He lived from 1838 to 1907 and is perhaps best-known for discovering the dye mauveine.

He patented the discovery and, because purple was a colour in demand, Perkin became rich.

In our latest periodic video about crystallization, we discuss Perkin's beard.

The Professor suggests that substantial beard may have been a secret weapon in Perkin's success as a chemist!

Find out why...

Monday, 9 May 2011

Amazing photos of the Sun

Something a bit different from Backstage Science.

I invited solar expert Chris Davis to choose his 10 favourite images (video or photo) of our local star.

They include a mixture of old and new, and a few from the mission he works on called STEREO.

Here's the video:

Sunday, 8 May 2011

Lego Professor

Professor Poliakoff from The Periodic Table of Videos received this little trinket from a colleague this week!

I've since read about it on the Lego website...

It's called "Crazy Scientist".

Its description says:

"Ah hah hah hah! They called me mad at the university...and they were right!"

The Crazy Scientist really loves mad science. He's got all the right equipment: a spooky old laboratory, shelves of beakers and tubes full of bubbling liquids, and even one of those antenna things with the little bolts of lightning that go up and down. He's still looking for just the right creepy assistant, but he's sure that one will answer his ad soon.

Friday, 6 May 2011

Spinal injury expert breaks his spine

Not a typical day today... I was at Nottingham Crown Court.

It was for the sentencing of a woman who pleaded guilty to dangerous driving after crashing into a cyclist.

The victim was Donal McNally - himself a crash expert and someone I regularly feature in films on Test Tube.

Donal was cycling home in the evening of May 21 last year when he was struck down.

The driver left the scene and Donal was later found by passing motorists.

He was on bad shape and they initially thought he was "a large dog" on the road, the court heard today.

Donal had broken his neck in three places and suffered a burst fracture in his lower back.

The experts - including Donal himself - said he was very lucky to survive.

And what a twist of fate that a leading expert on crashes - and spinal injures - should find himself in such a predicament.

I filmed an interview with Donal a few weeks ago, but we couldn't upload it until the legal proceedings were finished.

Today the driver, a 28-year-old woman, was sentenced by a judge.

She was disqualified from driving for 18 months and ordered to perform 150 hours of unpaid work for the benefit of the community.

There were no charges relating to leaving the crash scene. An expert psychologist reported that she had a "genuine memory loss" of the incident and didn't know she had struck a cyclist.

The judge said he accepted this report.

As for Donal... well, the incident has strengthened his resolve to campaign about the importance of bicycle helmets.

He insists the helmet he was wearing (and which split in two places) is what saved his life.

In addition to the video above, we plan to post another video soon about the modeling his injuries and discussing safety in general.

So watch this space.

Thursday, 5 May 2011

Yet another portrait of The Prof

Another viewer has done a portrait of our very own Professor Martyn Poliakoff - emerging YouTube superstar?

This one comes from Ellen Hong (aka @Sonnet_72)

When I asked to re-produce the picture, Sonnet said: "Sure, why not! I love your videos n' all staff members, especially respect him so much!"

I've posted a bigger version of Flickr.

And here are some earlier portaits of The Professor, also by viewers.

Read more about them at this link and this link.

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Our Eggs on San Francisco Radio

Our thanks to an eagle-eared listener who heard our Creme Egg Easter video being discussed on the radio in San Francisco.

Click here to listen.

Always love how our American friends pronounce Notting-HAM in England!

Here's the video they were talking about, complete with Professor Poliakoff's hair.

Testing a Tandem Bike Rack

Today I uploaded a second video about a student project at the University of Nottingham.

Three engineering students were tasked with building a roof rack which could be used by one person using a tandem bicycle.

I should emphasise it is a "student project" as part of their degree - they're not taking this to market. It was filmed for Test Tube.

Here's the latest video, in which the rack is tested on a crash track.

And here is the previous video when the rack was first fitted to a car.