How YouTube is popularising science

[Cut and pasted from a Guardian article here]

Brian Cox is brilliant for science popularity, but TV is not the only means to communicate science. James Grime explains how small videos are making a big difference to the reach of science.

I have been recognised four times now. Four times! I knew you would be impressed. And what has brought me such notoriety? Is it my fancy suits, my outrageous tabloid lifestyle, or is it my world famous impression of a teapot? No. I make videos about maths on YouTube.

I am one of a growing number of science communicators on YouTube, and I know many readers could be doing the same. If there is a subject you’re passionate about, whatever it is, I want to invite you to join us. In the meantime, here is a favourite video of mine about a surprising mathematical game called non-transitive dice.

Maths game

I’m a mathematician – and have the chalk marks to prove it – but I do not come from a family of academics. Growing up, my only access to that world was through the television. I remember Johnny Ball jumping up and down talking excitedly about the parabolic path of projectiles; Horizon’s documentary on the Andrew Wiles’ proof of Fermat’s Last Theorem; and at Christmas the theme music of the Royal Institution’s Christmas Lectures filled me with even more excitement than the bike that came with six sound effects.

Today the profile of science communication on TV may be at an all time high. My mum may not know what the Large Hadron Collider does, but she knows who Brian Cox is. But television remains a very 20th century method of communication. A channel will gear their science programming towards their perceived audience, be that BBC1 , BBC4 or a Channel 4 audience.

However, with the rise of new media, like YouTube, you no longer need to chase the audience. They find you.

The periodic table of videos

For me, the gold standard of SciComm remains The Periodic Table of Videos. Starting in July 2008, the chemistry department of the University of Nottingham began making a video for each element of the periodic table.

Read the rest of the article here.

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