Category Archives: Science News

Nature’s YouTube Channel (and some others)

On the heels of the NewScientist YouTube channel we have the offering from Nature. Where NewScientist provides a news-style clip of current Science headlines, Nature’s YouTube channel takes the approach of a video background to articles published in their journal. So far they have ten videos, though they provide useful background to articles such as the Antikythera mechanism, whale evolution and this one on sequencing the platypus genome:

It’s an encouraging trend to see these journals reach out into internet video publishing – cheap, easy and a great starting place for students getting involved in science. Let’s hope Nature can keep their channel going longer than ScientificAmerican, who started strongly but seem to have given up.

Of course, the bees knees of YouTube channels so far are NationalGeographic, with 847 videos to date. Here’s a gratuitous Great White clip:



Another great channel (though not on YouTube) is the Journal of Visualised Experiments – actually publishing scientific research papers as videos. A good idea, and some really effective videos – especially for letting us see what is going on in the experiment or operation.  Unfortunately, their videos can’t be embedded, so get yourself on over there and have  a look.

Now comes the question of citing online videos in your work – and here is the answer! (pdf)

Other ‘tube’ resources worth a look are DNAtube and TeacherTube.

Scientific American – new YouTube channel

Following in the footsteps of the NewScientist channel, ScientificAmerican have branched out into YouTube vodcasting. They have uploaded 27 videos in 4 weeks, which is pretty prolific. Let’s hope they keep up the pace and the quality. Their style is much more MTV than their British counterpart, which you may or may not like.

Features include The Monitor weekly roundup, Instant Egghead articles (like the synthetic biology one in the last post) and some SciAm special focus episodes.

Here’s an example of The Monitor:

What do you think?

Synthetic Biology – the man-made future?

Where’s the money in Biology? Probably where the future lies – genetics and synthetic biology.Synthetic Biology

As we learn more about genomes and the way different organisms (including pathogens) work, we can move towards creating targeted responses and DNA-level manipulation. Synthetic biologists take DNA and try to re-work it into a solution to a problem – by creating synthetic DNA, they hope to achieve control over the functions of the organism. They hope to generate alternative sources of fuel, targeted treatments and vaccines and many more applications.

Click on the image to the right to download a useful poster from SEED magazine.

BioBricks (company link) are a leading example of synthetic biology in action. Think of them like lego bricks or parts of standard computer code – you can take them and (theoretically) fit them into any genome. This is one of the wonders of DNA – base-pairings and the universality of the genetic code allow these researchers endless opportunities for tinkering and advancing science. Some BioBricks are ‘parts’, some are ‘devices’ and others are ‘systems’ – sections of code that increase in complexity and functionality.

There is an exciting world of information out there about this topic, and it’s well worth looking at if you think your future lies in biotechnology. It’s a discipline that pulls together Biology, Physics, Chemistry, Maths, Engineering and Programming, and the ways in are various. If you want to find out more about a career in synthetic biology, MIT are world-leaders in the field.

For a quick explanation of how synthetic biology works (and an interesting hardware/software analogy) watch the video from ScientificAmerican below:

You might also want to read ‘Prey’ by Michael Crichton for a bit of light holiday scare-mongering. Imagine ‘The Andromeda Strain‘ with nanoparticles.

And while we’re on the subject of Scientific American, you may as well check out their video channel on YouTube. It’s much like the NewScientist one.

SEED Magazine – Science and TOK, all wrapped up

SEED Magazine is another great resource out there for High-School and above.

It’s a bit like NewScientist, though with more appeal to the i-generation, with a good format and some really thought-provoking articles.

Good features:

– the Daily Zeitgeist (look it up) wraps up 5 stories daily, and can be subscribed to via RSS (see the right-hand column on this blog to see what I mean).

Cribsheets: decent in-a-nutshell posters on topics from photosynthesis to string theory. Well worth printing and sticking in the space where that Westlife poster used to go.

Video interviews

3D Science News – goggles at the ready!

Here’s an interesting Science news blog –

Video articles can be downloaded and viewed as either stereroscopic videos (needs some changi hardware, apparently), or as a simple 3D video and you can use red/blue glasses.

Got to be worth a go.

They even have a 3D interview with Dawkins (Before he gatecrashed a screening of Expelled, I think).

Obama vs Clinton – Who will be better for Science? (via NewScientist)

This is from the NewScientist channel and is an interesting conversation starter. Last week at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) meeting in Boston, representatives from Clinton and Obama’s teams were on hand to outline their positions on Science and Technology.

What kind of impact on voting do scientific policies really have in the US elections?

Is Science one of those promises that is all too easy to forget about once the candidate is in place?

What could the UK do to boost its Science departments and improve the quality of graduates (and retain a skilled scientific workforce)?

The idea of Science Debate 2008 is an interesting one – but will they be bothered to turn up?

Here are the candidates’ Sci-Tech policies:

Obama: energy and environment, technology, higher education, healthcare.

Clinton: energy and environment, innovation, education, healthcare.

McCain: energy and environment, education, healthcare. *

* it’s interesting to see that McCain has no section on his site relating to science and technology, nor did he send anyone to the AAAS meeting.

It all reminds me a bit of the South Park episodes where the military and FBI were deriding the professors by sneering “Mister Scientist” at them at every given opportunity.

There’s a funny South Park style Mac vs PC ad after the jump:

Read the rest of this entry

Good Science News This Week

The NewScientist channel on YouTube publishes a weekly roundup, which I’ve mentioned here before. This week’s roundup is a good one, including mate selection fashions in lark buntings, swarm robot technology (scary) and what looks like a very time-consuming method for studying wasp colony politics in their selection of a new nesting site. Go have a look.

JoVE – Journal of Visualised Experiments – Update

Sounds like JoVE is moving up in the world and making real headway in validating the video format as a legitimate format for publishing experimental protocols and results. Since my first post about them, they have (according to a recent email) been in process with PubMed and may become their first peer-reviewed video journal. They have also added RSS feed, email subscription and bookmarks (Digg, del.ici.ous, stumbleupon) to readers’ capabilities.

Most importantly, though, is that these resources are visual and well-explained. Instead of just reading about complicated protocols, we can see what is being done and it may allow more to understand the steps involved and the reasons behind the research.

Here is a nice clip (12mins) about derivation of stem cells from embryos.  Hopefully, they’ll let me embed it on the blog.

The Theory of Everything?

Looks like the theory of etch-a-sketch*. I’m buggered if I understand it.

*or maybe Spirograph. Or that one with the colourful threads and the boards with holes in.

New Scientist Vodcasts

Vodcast? It’s like a podcast, but with video – hence the ‘Vod’. have their own channel on YouTube (which I just discovered) and a weekly roundup on Fridays.

A couple of minutes of Science news – with pictures – on Fridays?

Sounds like a good idea for those review lessons.
To get us started, here’s this week’s episode:

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