Tuesday, 10 April 2012

The Queen on a Diamond

The latest film from periodicvideos is something a bit quirky... we've etched a portrait of The Queen onto a diamond.

The symbolism is that people in the UK are currently celebrating her 60th year on the throne - or Diamond Jubilee.

And we're always looking for excuses to talk about chemicals - so why not diamonds?

It just seemed appropriate. Video below.

Being frugal, the diamond we used was second-hand.

It was a "window" taken from a broken instrument mount belonging to Professor Martyn Poliakoff (he says a student broke it?).

The people doing the engraving were Chris Parmenter and Mike Fay from the University of Nottingham's "Nottingham Nanoscience and Nanotechnology Centre".

They engraved the diamond using a beam of charged gallium ions, which essentially blast the image onto the diamond.

Our first effort (right) was good, but not great.

So the guys coated the diamond with a super-then layer of carbon. This allowed charge from the ions to be conducted away from the "blast zone".

 This ensured a more accurate beam was doing the etching.

The two portraits were created measured 92x64 microns and 46x32 microns - smaller than the eye can see!


We did not waste valuable microscope time - we did the etching during some down-time before the Easter break. We see it as a fun way to showcase the technology to an audience that wouldn't otherwise see it.

And yes, people have already started with the "why don't you cure cancer or prevent starvation" comments.

My response is simple.

What's the point of helping people live longer if they end up in a world devoid of art, fun and creativity?

The reason scientists help prolong life is, in my opinion,  so that we can do "pointless" things for fun, like etch the Queen's head onto a diamond!

As expected, the video has also created a healthy number of anti-royalty comments on YouTube.

I don't know what to say about except that we were not really trying to make any statement either way.

If anything, we've been a bit cheeky and piggybacked the Queen's celebration to have some fun of our own.

I think we should send the diamond to the Queen, just because it is such a silly thing to do.

Professor Poliakoff, being more sensible, wants to put it an appropriate museum or exhibition. Any takers?

PS: Some of you may remember a while back we created another famously small image - the world's smallest periodic table on a strand of hair. It is featured in this year's Guinness Book of Records.

All images in this article courtesy of www.periodicvideos.com

Monday, 9 April 2012

YouTube Mural

Chuffed to see two Sixty Symbols stars - Phil Moriarty and Ed Copeland - were included in a mural of "awesome" YouTube educators.

I don't much about the mural.

It was shown to me by Tweeter @sambrowny and I also know it was recently featured by vSauce.

It was created by someone using the name iamcogita - very cool and thanks for including Sixty Symbols.

Click here to see the mural much bigger!

Here are all the YouTube channels featured (the others are far bigger and more successful than mine):


Friday, 6 April 2012

The Egg Nebula and other Easter Stuff

This year I've only made one "Easter video", showcasing the so-called Egg Nebula on Deep Sky Videos.

Here's the film, featuring Professor Mike Merrifield:

But of course, there is an extensive back catalog of Easter videos across various projects...

Egg Crash tests for Sixty Symbols:

Extra Dimensions (or eggstra!) again for Sixty Symbols:

Creme Egg carnage for the Periodic Table of Videos:

MRI scans of Creme Eggs for Sixty Symbols:

Egg Pendulums for Sixty Symbols:

Professor Poliakoff talking eggs for the Periodic Table of Videos:

A Bibledex video about perhaps the most sacred church in Christianity:

And another Bibledex video on the topic of the crucifixion:

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Sir Patrick and M40

One of the most familiar faces in UK astronomy - Sir Patrick Moore - makes a cameo appearance in the latest Deep Sky Videos film.

The film is about the optical double star, M40.

The clips with Sir Patrick were filmed by Stephen Slater, who is an assistant producer for Deep Sky Videos.

Here's a pic of Steve with Sir Patrick, who appears to be enjoying a drink of some description?

Dream to Reality

The Test Tube series of videos is something I 'm very proud of.

The idea is to show science as it really is - warts and all.

One of the people I have followed from the very start is Professor Seamus Garvey, from the University of Nottingham.

The first time I met him (five years ago) he told me about his dream of placing giant "energy bags" on the sea floor.

The idea is to store energy (probably from renewable sources) as compressed air, releasing it later when the energy is required.

Over the years I have made various films with Seamus as he works to make his vision a reality.

These have included videos about funding and early prototypes.

But this most recent video is something I'm very happy to see - foootage of divers attaching the first bag to the ocean floor!

There's still a long way to go - but it all seems very real now.

A far cry from that first discussion in Seamus' office!

Monday, 2 April 2012

Lucy loves Nerds

Great picture from A-Level student Lucy, who was visiting the University of Nottingham for a vet science workshop.

Lucy follows many of our science videos, but said meeting Professor Poliakoff in the cafeteria was like meeting Brad Pitt!