Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Leap Years, Julian Dates and Neutrinos

I wasn't going to miss an opportunity to have a blog with a 29 February date stamp, was I?

And of course we have a video for the occasion.

This film, from Numberphile, features Dr Meghan Gray.

Dr Gray is better known for her starring role in both Sixty Symbols and Deep Sky Videos.

In the film Dr Gray mentions Julian Dates - and the Julian Date for February 29, 2012, is 2455987.

And in true Numberphile style, one of our viewers has already pointed out this is a prime number!

Another nice little bonus... This video was spotlighted on the front page of YouTube (screen shot right).

Always a fun way to reach new viewers.

And while I'm blogging, I'll also mention the first video uploaded from the Sixty Symbols trip to Geneva.

We were at CERN, visiting the Large Hadron Collider.

Coincidentally while we were there, an announcement was made about the supposed "faster then light neutrinos".

So we made a quick film about it.

Here's an earlier film on the same topic.

Sunday, 26 February 2012

Human Periodic Table from Thailand

Here at periodicvideos we always love a new periodic table!

And here's a nifty one from Thailand.

It came from Thorsten Wollmann.

Thorsten's message said: "I'm a science teacher of The British International School of Northern Thailand and would like to send you some pictures of our last project.

"During the preparation of the project all classes enjoyed watching the videos on your website and your work helped and inspired us to perform a human periodic table, which was then photographed from a hot air balloon last Saturday."

I've put some higher resolution copies of the pics on the periodicvideos Flickr stream.

Saturday, 18 February 2012

The Brown Paper Question

A few people people have commented on the use of brown paper in my Numberphile videos.

Why do I have the "presenters" write their explanations and equations on brown paper? Why not a whiteboard or blackboard?

Anyway, I thought I'd explain here on my blog (so I have a permanent page to direct people to).


Brown paper is more gritty, more tactile than a sterile whiteboard. It feels more real and is better for a video. Remember I'm making films, not Powerppoint presentations. Maths and numbers can be a dry subject... A bit of rustling and scratching paper just gives a film some extra life.


Whiteboards just scream "classroom" and "schoolteacher" to me... I don't want our videos to feel like we are trying to teach. We're just having a chat with our friends and scratching some notes to help explain stuff. We're not trying to be lecturers - or corporate motivational speakers!


I haven't been promoting it too heavily yet, but I keep all the bits of the paper and later display them on Flickr. Check the link here. You can't keep a whiteboard and photograph it later. And filming would be a pain if I was constantly stopping to photograph the board.


Moving the camera between a gleaming whiteboard and someone's face requires more camera exposure/iris adjustments when filming. The brown paper is much easier to film.


The brown paper becomes a theme through the project and defines a brand... We're "those number guys who use brown paper". It also has become a major part of the main Numberphile website design and gives us a distinctive look. THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT REASON IN MY OPINON!


Many of the above issues could have been addressed by using a blackboard or slates - and indeed that was my original plan. But using blackboards and chalk is a bit messier and more cumbersome... Blackboard scribblings also can't be kept for photographing later. And they would still cause complaints about the scratchy noise!


All of this said, I'm endeavouring to reduce the scratchy noise for those who don't like it. We are phasing in better pens and I'm making a few tweaks within the audio editing.


I am now offering a limited number of the papers for auction on ebay... If any are available, they can be found at this link: BROWN PAPERS ON EBAY

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Valentine's Videos

Here are some of my videos with a Valentine's Day twist!!!

Saturday, 11 February 2012

Interactive Cubes Win Top Award

An interactive display showcasing our Periodic Table of Videos has picked some major awards.

The Interaction Cubes were created by the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation Museum of Life in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, with our permission to use the videos.

Inserting an element cube from the oversized periodic table into a "TV slot" starts our element video playing (with Portuguese subtitles).

The display won two gongs - the "Engaging" category and the "People Choice Award" - at the Interaction Awards held in Dublin!

Professor Poliakoff and I visited the display in Brazil last year. Here is the video we made, showing how it works:

And here is the foundation's own video, which was part of their entry:

Congratulations to our friends in Brazil... We are proud to have made a small contribution to their very clever and well-executed idea.

Photos from our Brazil Trip

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Come see The Prof

Professor Martyn Poliakoff will be giving a public lecture tomorrow (February 8) at the University of Nottingham.

It will be about his YouTube adventures - the growth and success of our Periodic Table of Videos.

The lecture is associated with his winning of the 2011 Nyholm Prize, as explained in the video below.

The lecture starts at 3.30pm in lecture theatre X1 at the university's School of Chemistry.

More info here.

Sunday, 5 February 2012

The weekly routine

My two big new projects for 2012 are Numberphile and Deep Sky Videos.

I'm being flexible about upload dates so the videos can react to what happens in the world (and space).

But as a general rule I am trying to upload Deep Sky Videos on Mondays and Thursdays.

Numberphile films go up on Tuesdays and Fridays.

Here are last week's additions...

MONDAY - The Elliptical Galaxy M105

TUESDAY - Why the fraction 3/4 is important in biology

THURSDAY - The Reflection Nebula M78

FRIDAY - Why the number one is NOT prime

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Janet Folkes 1959-2012

Today friends and family will say goodbye to Janet Folkes, who died last month.

I've gone through the old tapes from my first flight with Janet and tried to re-create the feeling of that special day.

This was the maiden voyage of Janet's creation - the University of Nottingham balloon - in the stunning setting of the Swiss Alps.

And what a landing! Thanks Janet.