An Animated History of Physics Introduces the Discoveries of Galileo, Newton, Maxwell & Einstein

How can you present scientific ideas to an audience of all ages -- scientists and non-scientists alike -- so that these ideas will stick in people's minds? Since 2012, BBC Two has been trying to answer this question with its series "Dara Ó Briain's Science Club." Irish stand-up comedian and TV presenter Dara Ó Briain invites experts to his show to tackle the biggest concepts in science in a way that is understandable to non-experts as well. Film clips and animations are used to visualize the ideas and concepts dealt with in the show.

In 2012, Åsa Lucander, a London-based animator originally from Finland, was approached by the BBC with the task of creating an animation about the history of physics. The result is as entertaining as it is instructive. The clip deals with the discoveries of four major scientists and the impact of their findings: Galileo Galilei, Isaac Newton, James Clerk Maxwell and Albert Einstein.

Bonus material:

By profession, Matthias Rascher teaches English and History at a High School in northern Bavaria, Germany. In his free time he scours the web for good links and posts the best finds on Twitter.

Related content:

Free Online Physics Courses

Leonard Susskind Teaches You “The Theoretical Minimum” for Understanding Modern Physics

125 Great Science Videos: From Astronomy to Physics and Psychology

The Anatomical Drawings of Renaissance Man, Leonardo da Vinci

Leonardo da Vinci, the archetype of the Renaissance Man, received some formal training in the anatomy of the human body. He regularly dissected human corpses and made very detailed drawings of muscles, tendons, the heart and vascular system, internal organs and the human skeleton. A great number of these drawings can now be seen in the largest exhibition of Leonardo da Vinci’s studies of the human body, "Leonardo da Vinci: Anatomist," at The Queen's Gallery in Buckingham Palace, London. In this video, Senior Curator Martin Clayton explores three of these drawings and shows that Leonardo's medical discoveries could have transformed the study of anatomy in Europe, had they not languished unpublished for centuries. Clayton has also published his findings in "Nature". And the BBC has looked into the question of just how accurate Leonardo's anatomical drawings really were.

Bonus links:

  • The Guardian has a fascinating story about Leonardo da Vinci's notebook, including his 'to-do' list.
  • Here's a wonderful 360° panoramic view of Santa Maria delle Grazia in Milan with Leonardo's "Last Supper".

By profession, Matthias Rascher teaches English and History at a High School in northern Bavaria, Germany. In his free time he scours the web for good links and posts the best finds on Twitter.

NASA’s Stunning Tour of the Moon


On 18 June 2009, NASA launched the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) from Cape Canaveral to conduct investigations that would pave the way for future lunar exploration. The main objectives? To scout for safe and productive landing sites, locate potential resources (with special attention to the possibility of water ice) and characterize the effects of prolonged exposure to lunar radiation. All along, the LRO has collected scientific data about the moon's topography and composition, resulting in some of the most spectacular images ever taken of the moon. NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center has assembled some of these images into a wonderful animated tour of the moon. A high-resolution version can be downloaded here.

Bonus: Click through the images from the LRO camera or follow the LRO on Twitter.

By profession, Matthias Rascher teaches English and History at a High School in northern Bavaria, Germany. In his free time he scours the web for good links and posts the best finds on Twitter.

Duelity: Creationist and Darwinist Origin Stories Animated

Produced at the Vancouver Film School, this split-screen animation tells the story of Earth’ s origins from a creationist and Darwinist/evolutionist point of view. To make things more interesting (spoiler: stop reading now if you want to maintain the element of surprise), the scientific story is told using religious language, whereas the Biblical version is told as if it were the scientific one. The slightly confusing conclusion (its' a zinger) shows how the language we use to present ideas influences their perception. And the ironic use of infographics tops off this visual and linguistic experiment.

On the homepage of the project, you can watch the videos separately and download them. Also, the YouTube channel of Vancouver Film School is always worth a visit.

By profession, Matthias Rascher teaches English and History at a High School in northern Bavaria, Germany. In his free time he scours the web for good links and posts the best finds on Twitter.

Richard Feynman on Beauty

After dismissing the popular notion that scientists are unable to truly appreciate beauty in nature, physicist Richard Feynman (1918 - 1988) explains what a scientist really is and does. Here are some of the most memorable lines from this beautiful mix of Feynman quotes and (mostly) BBC and NASA footage:

  • People say to me, Are you looking for the ultimate laws of physics? - No, I'm not. I'm just looking to find out more about the world.
  • When we're going to investigate [nature], we shouldn't predecide what it is we're trying to do, except to find out more about it.
  • I can live with doubt and uncertainty and not knowing. I think it's much more interesting to live not knowing than to have answers that might be wrong. (...) I don't feel frightened by not knowing things, by being lost in the mysterious universe without having any purpose.
  • When you doubt and ask, it gets a little harder to believe.

Beauty is the first video in The Feynman Series, along with Honours and Curiosity. The sequence is a companion to The Sagan Series, which pays tribute to the late Carl Sagan. H/T Kottke

By profession, Matthias Rascher teaches English and History at a High School in northern Bavaria, Germany. In his free time he scours the web for good links and posts the best finds on Twitter.

Related Content:

Richard Feynman’s Physics Lectures Online

The Pleasure of Finding Things Out

The Last Journey Of A Genius: Richard Feynman Dreams of Tannu Tuva

 

Dopamine Jackpot! Robert Sapolsky on the Science of Pleasure

Robert Sapolsky, Professor of Biology at Stanford University, famously focuses his research on stress above all else. (Don't miss his book, Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers.) The video above features Sapolsky presenting the Pritzker Lecture at the California Academy of Sciences on February 15, 2011. The full lecture can be seen on Fora TV. In this excerpt, Sapolsky amusingly tells the audience how monkeys and humans commonly generate the highest levels of dopamine when pleasure is anticipated, not when pleasure is actually experienced. But humans, as opposed to monkeys, can "keep those dopamine levels up for decades and decades waiting for the reward." And for some, Sapolsky adds, that perceived reward lies beyond this life – in the afterlife. (Sapolsky was raised in an orthodox Jewish family, but is an atheist now.) The Stanford professor talks about similar issues (what separates us from primates) in another captivating talk, "What makes us human?"

By profession, Matthias Rascher teaches English and History at a High School in northern Bavaria, Germany. In his free time he scours the web for good links and posts the best finds on Twitter.

Quantcast