Friday, 24 August 2012

Cats and YouTube

Enjoyed this picture of "Eric the Cat" watching The Periodic Table of Videos.

Tweeted today by viewer Thomas Griffiths...

See more viewer photos on our Flickr page... Including some more cat ones.

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

The fun never ends...

So the "excitement" of Berzelius Day is over - posting 24 short videos of chemical reactions in 24 hours.

Was chuffed to see it even rated a brief mention on the homepage of YouTube (right).

It was a fun day for my chemistry channel - periodicvideos.

But life moves on and other channels need tending to.

Three new videos have popped up today and I thought I'd share them here.

First, here's a new video for the occasional series My Favourite Scientist.

In an unusual choice, it features the fictional scientist Mr Spock!

A new Numberphile video has been uploaded - here we have a card trick with a numbery streak.

And finally Deep Sky Videos is continuing its journey through the Messier Catalogue with a new video on M76 - the Little Dumbbell Nebula.

Monday, 20 August 2012

Why Berzelius Day...

I'm writing this final blog about Berzelius Day for one reason - to send a few YouTube complainers to read it rather than engage with them on message boards.

On August 20 periodicvideos (my chemistry channel on YouTube) celebrated the birthday of the chemistry founding father Berzelius... We called it Berzelius Day.

See this video for more about Berzelius.

We marked the day by uploading 24 videos over 24 hours.

These weren't our typical videos, but highlights from our favourite reactions over fours years of filming.

You can see them here.

Some people have complained (within their rights) about having 24 videos in their subscription box.

So here's why we did it:

1. To celebrate Berzelius Day through the day no matter what timezone people were in - and in a unique way.

2. Because many of our subscribers (well over half) only joined this year and may have been unaware of previous experiments we've done. Each video had prominent links back to the original video.

3. Some of the experiments were quite old and we hadn't uploaded them at a high resolution.

4. I think it will be a useful resource for many teachers and educators to have videos showing "just the reactions" rather than the usual 7-8 minutes of talking and build-up that goes with it.

5. It was fun for me to go through 24 hours interacting with viewers around the globe. It was just something I wanted to try. As people have woken and gone to bed, it was fun seeing the comments evolve.

6. I think it was a nice gimmick... It's unusual and reached a new audience as a result.

I'm sorry for anyone who was inconvenienced by an overdose of periodicvideos for one day and I'm aware some of them have unsubscribed from the channel.

I did it make it very clear beforehand that we'd be doing it with messages in a video and on social media!

But if one big day of chemistry was too much...?

We won't be doing another marathon like it - but I enjoyed it as a one-off celebration!

A BIG PS: This blog is just for me to explain to the naysayers... The overwhelming amount of feedback has been very positive and I'm grateful for that!

Are We Too Flashy?

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.

Thursday, 16 August 2012

24 reactions in 24 hours

On Monday (August 20) I'll be uploading 24 short videos to the periodicvideos YouTube channel.

They will be very short - usually around 20 seconds - and each shows a chemical reaction.

Each video will be released on the hour - sort of like a clock's chime - starting from midnight.

August 20 has been chosen for this celebration of chemistry because it's the birthday of Jöns Jacob Berzelius - a founding father of the field.


Why am I doing this? A few reasons.

1. I've never done it before... It's an experiment.

2. Many of the reactions to be featured were previously buried within longer films - I thought people might like seeing them on their own. They might be useful resource.

3. Seeing the reactions as stand-alone snippets may raise awareness of films we've done in the past that people are unaware of (some were filmed a few years ago).

Many of the reactions are among our most spectacular and fiery, but there are also a few peaceful colour change reactions.

Below is the video I used to introduce the idea and a discussion of Berzelius from Professor Martyn Poliakoff.

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Nepal Flag - from the inside

Some of my mates are, as I write, at the Olympics closing ceremony.

Numberphile viewers will know one of our Games obsessions has been the very mathematical flag of Nepal (video below).

So I've put the word out - and already pics of the flag are coming in!

These were sent by my friends Rod, Maurice and Sacha.

Do me a favour and follow Rod's live commentary of the closing ceremony on the News website... You can interact with him and I think you should all mention Numberphile and ask him more about the Nepal flag!!!?


That was the Olympics

So the 2012 Olympics are over - an event which has gripped the UK.

The highlights?

Usain Bolt? Mo Farah? Mr Bean?

Or these videos uploaded by me for periodicvideos and numberphile? :)

Thursday, 2 August 2012

A video with fellow science YouTubers

I've blogged previously about my trip to Canada and the US, meeting with fellow YouTubers.

Today I published some videos created during the trip.

The main one, on Sixty Symbols, features five of them talking about their own logos and symbols.

In addition, there is extended interview footage with Destin and Derek.

Destin's typically honest interview contains some of his views about religion, which resulted in some rather intolerant, knee-jerk discussion on YouTube - what a shock!

Direct link to Destin's faith discussion.

PS: I also spent some time in the US with the Green brothers (from SciShow and Crash Course) and Michael Stevens from Vsauce, but never really had time to conduct interviews with them... They were pretty busy at VidCon.

Hopefully next time!?