Thursday, 30 June 2011

The YouTube Delusion

Most people who watch my videos are enthusiastic about science.

Many of them loyally watch the whole set - from The Periodic Table of Videos through to Sixty Symbols.

Some also stumble across my Bibledex project - an attempt to look at every book of the Bible in an academic and scholarly way.

A few viewers express surprise that I would "betray" science by "wasting time" on the Bible.

I find this view frustrating but have tired of explaining myself.

Yet last week I read something that gave me hope.

It was a passage in The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins - the atheists' atheist!

It was a good book and I enjoyed it.

Dawkins is a man who has little time for theology, and he makes this clear.

But he's very knowledgeable about the Bible. And he seems to think other people should be too.

I clearly can't speak for Richard Dawkins... but I like to imagine he'd approve of what Bibledex at least TRIES to achieve (ie: a curious and critical look at the content and history of the world's most famous book).

These are quotes from The God Delusion.

"I must admit that even I am a little taken aback at the biblical ignorance commonly displayed by people educated in more recent decades than I was."


"I have probably said enough to convince at least my older readers that an atheistic world view provides no justification for cutting the Bible, and other sacred books, out of our education."


"We can give up belief in God while not losing touch with a treasured heritage."

I hope Richard Dawkins - a man of science - would understand why my neutral and probing interest in the Bible is not a betrayal of my passion for science?

Here's a link to The God Delusion on Amazon.

And in the interests of neutrality - here's The Bible. :)

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Einstein, Electrons and the tears of Jesus?

Been up to all sorts of things this week. Certainly an eclectic mix of films.

Here's Albert Einstein featured on My Favourite Scientist... (No-one has cracked my secret coded message within the film yet).

Over at The Periodic Table of Videos, we had Professor Poliakoff on Rio's Copacabana Beach discussing the mystery of the world's missing Xenon.

On Bibledex we discussed on of the book's well-known verses... the famously short "Jesus Wept".

But what is its context and is it really the shortest verse in the Bible?

On Sixty Symbols it was Professor Ed Copeland tackling news that electrons are the most spherical objects in the universe.

On Test Tube, we had some extra footage from that earlier interview with Ed.

And on Backstage Science there was a quick Q&A with a man behind the scences at the Diamond Synchrotron.

Gosh I've been busy this week... And it's only Thursday morning.

Monday, 13 June 2011

The perfect sphere

The electron has been making headlines again lately.

This time a group of scientists have published a paper about its shape.

And if the headlines are true, it seems the electron is now the most "spherical object in the universe".

And how accurately has it been measured?

Well apparently if you enlarged the electron to the size of the solar system, the experts could measure its accuracy to withing a hair's breadth!?

All a bit baffling?

Here's Ed Copeland from Sixty Symbols trying to make sense of it.

And here's some extra interview footage from Test Tube.

Saturday, 11 June 2011

A tiny advertisement

They say imitation is the highest form of flattery....

You may recall late last year we made two videos about very small writing.

In one of them, we etched the world's smallest periodic table onto a human hair.

(and not just any hair - it was one of Professor Poliakoff's frizzy strands!)

Well after that, a big advertising agency got in touch with us.

Seems we had inspired them to write an advertisement on a whisker!?

And they even came over from France to make it on the very same electron microscope we used for our periodic table.

Here's their video about the making of the ad.

Friday, 10 June 2011

Pulp Fiction and Ezekiel 25:17

Enjoyed this latest film in the new "Bibledex Verses" series.

Ezekiel 25:17 shot to fame when it was recited by Jules the hit man (Samuel L Jackson) in Pulp Fiction.

But it turns out almost the entire passage was made up.

The real Ezekiel 25:17 also deals with vengeance, but is far less elaborate!

Thursday, 9 June 2011

Young Chemists

The most recent addition to The Periodic Table of Videos is a discussion about childhood.

In particular, when our chemists were first introduced to the idea of chemistry.

There were some nice anecdotes.

But the team were also kind enough to contribute pictures of themselves as youngsters.

They were good sports to let me use them and I think it makes the video better.

(Though it took a while to get everyone's pictures sent in from parents across the UK!!!)

DEBBIE KAYS (also the pirate above)








BRADY HARAN (unfair to spare myself the embarrassment!)

And because I know the mysterious Neil is everyone's favourite, here's an extra picture of him...

And another ones of Dr Liddle cutting loose on the trampoline!

And here's the video itself:

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Latest on Anti-Hydrogen

A few people have been in touch about this week's news that CERN folk have trapped anti-Hydrogen for 15 minutes.

They've suggested we do a video for The Periodic Table of Videos and/or Sixty Symbols.

I'm sure we'll be doing plenty more on this type of thing, but the latest news is not terribly advanced from last time we did a video about it.

For those who missed it, here it is:

Moon Plane

The latest Sixty Symbols video about tides includes a lucky shot.

I'd left my camera in the backyard for a timelapse shot of the moon moving across the sky.

It was only when reviewing the footage did I find a perfect shot of a plane "flying across" at just the right angle.

As bit of a moon enthusiast, I was quite pleased.

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Another plastic bottle

Noticed a bottle drying on a radiator in Professor Poliakoff's office the other day.

That's always a sure sign a new bottle's about to be added to his famous collection.

For those who haven't seen his double-sided collection, I've included a couple of pictures.

Here's the view looking into his office...

Here's the view looking out...

And here's an old video we did for Test Tube about his international bottle collecting...

Thursday, 2 June 2011

Strontium in Strontian

Britain has played a major role in the discovery of elements.

Yet only one element is named after a place in Britain.

That's right - one!

Compare that with the village of Ytterby, Sweden, which gave its name to four elements - Ytterbium, Yttrium, Erbium and Terbium.

So, where is this lone UK representative on the periodic table?

Step forward Strontian... a tiny village in the western highlands of Scotland.

It was in a lead mine here that a new mineral was found and dubbed "Strontiantite".

Later an undiscovered element was extracted from the mineral and given the name Strontium.

I paid a visit to the village a couple of weeks ago and visited local archivist George Fox.

That allowed us to finally update our Strontium video on The Periodic Table of Videos.

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Chapter and Verse

Bibledex is back with a new series.

We've already done a video about every book in the Bible (plus the extra 'Apocrypha' books).

Now we're going to make more focused videos, concentrating on individual verses.

We'll be discussing the history, theology and mystery behind some of the most famous verses, plus looking at some obscure ones.

But to start the series, we've discussed where the verses come from.

As you'll see, they were devised many years after the original texts were written!

A Paper in Science

Last week The Periodic Table of Videos won an interesting prize.

We were named a SPORE winner by the famous journal/magazine, Science.

SPORE stands for Science Prize for Online Resources in Education.

The "prize" was having an essay published in Science.

I wrote the essay with Professor Martyn Poliakoff.

One may think: "You had to write an essay... Some prize?"

But having an article published in Science is a big deal for scientists.

Some researchers go their entire career without such an honour.

So we were thrilled to have an article published, albeit via an unusual method.

You can find it at this link.

Or click here for the PDF.

It is the second article we've published in a major journal... the other was in Nature Chemistry.

The other members of the Periodic Table of Videos team is Pete Licence, Neil Barnes, Debbie Kays, Steve Liddle, Sam Tang, Rob Stockman and John Moses.

Among numerous other people we owe a special debt of thanks to is Professor Chris Rudd.

And Brigitte Nerlich, with whom we've previously discussed ideas for journal papers.