Today we're celebrating Berzelius Day on the YouTube channel PeriodicVideos.
We're uploading 24 very short videos of our best chemical reactions - each one on the hour.
So because these videos are short highlights, of course they're the best and most eye-catching reactions.
However each video is also accompanied by a written description of the chemistry by Professor Martyn Poliakoff and a link to the original video, putting the experiment in a wider context.
I also went to extensive lengths to tell everyone what we were doing today, both on the channel and via Facebook and Twitter.
Yet, here's a message I just received. It irked me somewhat:
SUBJECT: unsubscribe because of lowering of standards
"I'm sorry that I have to terminate my subscription to periodicvideos. The recent videos of 'bangs and flashes' is in my opinion a caricature of science. It is precisely this image in many people's minds that does science a disservice. Periodicvideos, and your other channels, used to be a very welcome antidote, because they showed so clearly that the exciting aspect of science is not in the fancy show, but in the insight gained. I am truly sorry to see periodicvideos decline and melt into the sea of meaningless fragments that constitutes 99,999% of youtube. I sincerely hope that your other channels do not follow."
I replied to this message politely and respect everyone's right to an opinion.
However, in anticipation of similar comments, I'm writing this blog entry in put an alternative view.
It outlines the previous 11 videos BEFORE today's light-hearted celebration of August 20. You decide if they're "bangs and flashes" and a "caricature of science"?
1. (Aug 16) An eight-minute biography of Berzelius which was mainly discussion and looking at historic documents at the Royal Society. (And a warning about the pending big day of reaction videos).
2. (Aug 13) Nearly nine-minutes from Dr Stephen Liddle about new research on Uranium bonds he has just published in the world-leading journal Science.
3. (Aug 7) An Olympic-themed video in which Professor Poliakoff discusses medals he has won in science and then a contemplative talk about the competitive nature of scientists in general.
4. (Aug 5) Seven minutes on another newly-published piece of research - this time dealing with Fluorine Gas being found in nature.
5. (Jul 27) Loosely based on the Olympics (the biggest news in town) we discuss a recently-created molecule and explain catenanes... Again, this video is just talking and a few props to demonstrate molecular structures.
6. (Aug 24) A heart-felt obituary to a fallen comrade - Harold Booth. Sadly, the deaths of friends is part of the scientific life.
7. (Jul 17) An 11-minute video about caffeine, including a detailed but certainly not flashy lab demonstration of how caffeine is extracted.
8. (Jul 11) Another video on newly-published work showing how Australian researchers imaged the shadow of an atom.
9. (Jul 5) An update of our Plutonium video including footage from our special visit to the National Nuclear Laboratory... very special access indeed.
10. (Jun 19) A video about the newly-named element Livermorium. Six-and-half minutes on an element that doesn't even exist in nature!
11. (Jun 19) Okay, this was our last bangs and flashes video. It is a behind-the-scenes look at a visit from our friend Michael Stevens. Because he was a visitor, we showed off a few spectacular demos.
In conclusion, our recent form certainly doesn't suggest to me that we're too flashy... Personally I think we should do MORE spectacular reactions, not less!
I think judging our whole project based on the colourful videos of "Berzelius Day" is like judging the Olympic Games based on the fireworks at the closing ceremony - and ignoring the two weeks of sport which preceded them.