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.

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