Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Dressed as The Prof for Halloween

This youngster is dressed as Professor Martyn Poliakoff for Halloween, complete with a periodic table tie.

The original

Here's the email which accompanied the picture...

Dr. Poliakoff and Team,

We wanted to share a photo of our son,  Joshua, who decided to dress up as Dr. Poliakoff for Halloween this year. 

Joshua loves The Periodic Table of Videos that you all produce.

He is 8-years-old and has a special interest in the elements, chemistry, and physics. 

Thank you for all you do – there is a little boy in Blythewood, SC (USA) who appreciates it! 

Dana and Max (Blythewood, SC)

Joshua is not the first person to be inspired by The Prof for fancy dress purposes - here's me a few years ago!

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Vampire Numbers and Neil's Cauldron

I've posted two videos for this year's Halloween.

At the time of posting a YouTube glitch meant they'd not been delivered to YouTube subscribers... not ideal.

But anyway, here they are:

Neil's fiery cauldron - liquid oxygen and red-hot charcoal

Vampire numbers and a counting obsession


I also uploaded this video today about the Ash Dieback problem gripping the UK.

The video has also went missing in action on the YouTube subscriber feeds.

UPDATE: The YouTube technical boffins have 'fessed up that their subscription system messed up for several hours... I was unlucky to be affected three times... It's now fixed but the videos will feed in lower on the subscription feeds! :(

Picture of Martyn and Neil

A new viewer-submitted picture of Professor Martyn Polikaoff and "silent rogue" Neil Barnes.

Click here for bigger version.

It was accompanied by this message:

Hi periodic table videos,

I started watching your videos at GCSE and this year I've started my A-levels (one of which is Chemistry), and I still really enjoy them!

Thanks for fueling my interest in Chemistry!

My younger brother, who is 13, drew a picture of the professor and Neil, so I thought I'd send it to you.  

All the best,


Click here for more caricatures created by viewers.

Monday, 29 October 2012

It's Halloween Again

This year I'll be uploading two videos for Halloween - one each for Numberphile and Periodic Videos.

I'm just finishing them now.

Halloween is not a "holiday" of much import to me, but for some reason I always end up doing quite elaborate videos.

I guess it's just a fun one in terms of "themed films".

Here are videos from previous years:

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Pictures from San Francisco

Last week I travelled to San Francisco for a YouTube EDU summit.

It was basically a get-together arranged by YouTube to discuss online education - especially videos.

Loads of cool people were there, including quite a few who I'd met earlier this year at BrainSTEM and Vidcon... I won't bother listing them all again. You'll see some of them in the pictures below.

Excitingly, a bunch of them also gave me quick interviews for an upcoming Numberphile film. Stay tuned for that one!

While I was nearby, I also took the opportunity to visit Berkeley for periodicvideos because so many elements were created there. Videos from that are coming soon too.

In the meantime, here are some photos... And some links to secret "unlisted videos".

Coming in to land, the closest I got to the Golden Gate bridge!

Brady on the main stage (during a lunch break when everyone was gone!)

I did get to talk briefly during a panel - but here no-one seems to be looking at me! (video)

Better than stairs at YouTube head office (video)

Just chilling by the slide with Destin from Smarter Every Day (ladies form an orderly queue)

Yes there is a staff massage room at YouTube (video)

In the woods - from l-r (Vi Hart, Hank Green, Henry Reich, Derek Muller and me)

Vi Hart, Derek, Henry and Brady

CGP Grey spotted amongst the trees

Freaky picture of Henry in a tree

Hank Green and CGP Grey

At Berkeley there are car spaces reserved for Nobel Prize winners (not joking!)

The room where Plutonium was discovered

The sign on the room where Plutonium was discovered

Tuesday, 23 October 2012


I've been pleasantly surprised by the response to our Numberphile video about the Curta calculator.

Writer Alex Bellos bought one on ebay some time ago and demonstrated it for our video.

The video has been besieged by comments from people expressing a desire to own one.

And this week I heard from a viewer who himself bought one on ebay - Razz70.

He even sent us a picture - thank you.

Razz70 says: "No smile. It's my scientific face!"

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Own the Numberphile Nepal Flag

The brown paper in Numberphile is often a topic of conversation - and I even wrote a blog to explain its use.

But I've now accumulated quite a few pieces, and rather than throw them all away I thought I might auction a few for charity!?

First is the Nepal Flag paper, drawn by Dr James Grime using the exact wording from Nepal's constitution.

THE ORIGINAL IS AVAILABLE ON EBAY (auction ends October 23).

Proceeds will go the Nottinghamshire Hospice, for which Mrs Numberphile is currently fundraising!

Women in Science

Today is Ada Lovelace Day - a celebration of women in science.

We've marked it with a film on Deep Sky Videos from astronomer Dr Meghan Gray.

Meghan spoke about Beatrice Tinsley, a pioneer in her chosen field of galaxy evolution.

I've had a quick scan through the archives on other projects and found a few more videos which seem appropriate to share today.

Dr Gray on the now notorious "Girl Thing" video...

Engineer and balloonist Dr Janet Folkes was tragically taken from us this year.

Janet breaks a world record.

A day in the life of an astrophysicist.

Not many people have an element named after them!

Rosalind Franklin - another great scientist who died too soon.

ViHart in Numberphile Video

Rather frustratingly (and mysteriously) the latest Numberphile video was not "delivered" to all our YouTube subscribers.

The video is a guest appearance by fellow YouTuber and number lover, ViHart.

She rolls a Yahtzee in her own inimitable style - using tetrahedral dice.

If you like the video and want to help us right this technological wrong, please share the video with your like-minded friends via email, Facebook, Twitter, Google-Plus or whatever else you use!?

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Collectible Art from My Favourite Scientist?

Today I received a package in the post from Nottingham Trent University.

They've produced a series of postcards based on the "artwork" in the My Favourite Scientist videos.

Each card features a masterpiece from a film from the series (though not all films are included).

They seem to be in a "collect-the-set" format, which appeals to the sports/Star Wars card collector in me!

I've included photos of the cards below and a link to the relevant video below each one.









This is what the back of the cards look like, which includes a QR code link toe the relevant video too!

As a point of clarification, My Favourite Scientist is a collaboration with Nottingham Trent University.

This not the same as The University of Nottingham, with whom I collaborate on projects such as Sixty Symbols and Periodic Table of Videos.

Those two projects also have promotional cards we use from time to time - see below.

Sixty Symbols

Periodic Table of Videos

PS: My father is an accomplished artist and may well be mortified if he ever sees this blogpost!

Monday, 8 October 2012

Caricature Portrait

This caracicature of the periodicvideos team has been sent by Jon Harsem, a Norwegian viewer who lives in Sydney.

I think it's very clever and based on this photo of the team taken quite a while back.

As much as I like it, I don't think I'll be using it as my profile picture any time soon.

I seem to have ended up looking like Sloth from The Goonies!

Anyways, below is the email from Jon who sent the picture in.

And here is a link to the image on Flickr.

And here are some more caricatures.


Brought to you by the not-really-too-much-time-department - it's a bit rough but functional =).

My apologies to Profs Stockman, Walsh; Moses - I'll add them in due course but perhaps will start with some caricatures first - lets see where my mood takes me, I recon Prof Moriarty + guitar + rocking pose is an epic picture waiting to happen =).

I haven't watched *any* TV for the last three weeks but rather have your Youtube videos running - and given the number of them (started with periodic videos but I am more of a physics-kinda-guy) I doubt I'll be stopping soon.

Thanks also to Ed Copeland for being the first person to explain the extra-dimensional universe to me using a cadbury creme egg in a way that I (kind of) got - the result being that I have started watching Stanford's Quantum mechanics course on iTunes U.

A bit of a meta-note but the reason all of this works so well is that these guys are human, Ed Copeland's amazement seeing the particle detector at CERN was real, obviously real.

James' dismay about his Phd funding was heart-wrenching and the video conveyed that. So in some ways you manage not only to educate, which I guess is your primary goal, but also to ground your characters - which is your achievement as the journalist - well played.

Whatever the university is paying (if anything) I wouldn't hesitate to say it's not enough.

For your viewer statistics - 39 year old Norwegian living in Sydney =)

Thursday, 4 October 2012

Meet The Professors (virtually)

Hi everyone.

Professor Poliakoff
I will be hosting a Google Hangout with various professors who appear in my assorted science videos.

This will include Professor Martyn Poliakoff, Professor Ed CopelandProfessor Michael Merrifield and Professor Philip Moriarty.

It's a chance to see them live (on your screens) and ask them whatever you like... Nice change from me asking all the questions, hey?

It will be on December 3, 2012 at 5pm in the UK (noon, Eastern Standard Time for those in the US).

It will be hosted HERE on the periodicvideos Google+ page.


Professor Moriart
I hope things will run smoothly and people will be asking live questions.

But just in case things get glitchy, you can leave any suggesting talking points here on the blog!


Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Walk Away from a Yahtzee

So this week I uploaded another video to my Yahtzee collection.

I've been amazed by the number of people who have contributed their own videos.

And I've also been intrigued to note the disproportionate number of viewers who seem to have rolled all 5s.

One viewer produced the following tally of which number has been most common.

1s - 7 times
2s - 11 times
3s - 11 times
4s - 9 times
5s - 19 times
6s - 9 times

(Reminder: A Yahtzee is five matching dice of any number - so on 19 occasions the five dice all came up as a 5)

Anyway, onto the real reason for today's blog post.

It is simply to share another nice Yahtzee related email from the Numberphile inbox.

This one is from a chap named Simon and it goes as follows:

Hey Brady,

I just have to tell you a story. 

During the last three weeks I was on a cycling trip with two friends of mine.

To kill some time in the evenings we played Yahtzee almost every day. On one day we invented the rule that if someone throws a yahtzee in a single roll, they would have to stand up not saying a word and just walk away... then they would win the game.

We invented this rule pretty much for fun as we were pretty sure this was never going to happen.

On the last day of the trip when we were at the airport we decided to play some final rounds.

In total we played three rounds and in the second round one friend of mine actually threw a Yahtzee in one roll.

Unfortunately we wasn't aware of the rule anymore and forgot to walk away in silence. So we finished the round to play the final third on

Two throws into the third round I jokingly said to my friend how unnecessary it is to throw a Yahtzee in one roll when I lifted up the cup to see Yahtzee of 6's.

I stood up not saying a word and just walked off to win the game. I left a photo in the attachment that my friends took while I was walking away in triumph ;)

I think it's just unbelievable that not only we got a one roll Yahtzee during our trip but also got a second one just a few throws later.

And to crown it all this all happened on the two last rounds we played during our entire trip. Crazy, right?

Keep it rolling,