Our top videos of the year
Dec 19, 2011
With its wonderful imagery and passionate researchers, physics is the perfect subject for video. Since releasing our first video interview in 2009, physicsworld.com now offers a steady stream of short films covering a broad range of topics – be it cutting-edge research, the history of physics or interviews with high-profile scientists. Here is a selection of our best films released in 2011, in no particular order
On Tuesday 13 December, Guido Tonelli co-presented a live webcast from CERN that was watched with excitement by the world's particle physicists, along with multitudes of journalists and members of the public. People had tuned in to learn whether the rumours were true that scientists at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) had discovered what the popular press frequently term "the God particle" – aka the Higgs boson. At the time of writing, the news that CERN physicists may have caught a glimpse of the Higgs amid hundreds of trillions of collisions is still being digested. Tonelli, who is the spokesperson for the CMS experiment at the LHC, features in this short film recorded at CERN earlier this year about the hunt for the Higgs boson.
Graphene is the ultrathin form of carbon that was first made at the University of Manchester in 2004. It is often dubbed "the wonder material" on account of its incredible properties, which promise many applications – from ultrafast transistors to DNA sequencing. For discovering graphene and for their pioneering studies of the material, Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov shared the 2010 the Nobel Prize for Physics. In this video, Physics World reporter James Dacey visits the Manchester lab to discover how graphene is made and why it is such a special material.
Particle physics continues to enjoy its day in the Sun, as witnessed by the media frenzy surrounding the recent Higgs developments at CERN. The excitement of particle physics has now been captured in musical form through a collaboration between composer Edward Cowie, violinist Jack Liebeck and particle physicist Brian Foster. In a major series of works for violin, Cowie traces the history of particle physics from the late 19th century through to the present day. This video offers an exclusive insight into the creative process as the trio meet at the University of Oxford to discuss the work and to give Liebeck and Foster the opportunity to make their first tentative attempts at playing the music.
With his stylish appearance and laid-back style, Paul Michael Grant is the perfect physicist from whom to learn about the history of superconductivity. Grant was a researcher at IBM's Almaden labs in California in 1986 when his colleagues at the firm's site in Zurich, Switzerland, discovered the first high-temperature superconductor. Grant has devoted much of his career to the study of superconductors, and since leaving IBM in 1993 he has become a leading proponent of using superconductors to distribute electricity. In this video, Grant discusses the commercial applications of superconductors – and whether the materials have lived up to the hype unleashed 25 years ago.
Never underestimate the power of a good science demonstration. Some of the most celebrated science communicators – such as Richard Feynman, Carl Sagan and more recently Brian Cox – are incredibly good at explaining academic research using simple, everyday concepts. But while a few lucky people seem to be naturally adept at coming up with nifty demonstrations, most educators can always pick up some tips from the professionals. This film investigates how simple but effective demonstrations can breathe life into science education. It was recorded at the 2011 annual conference of the Association for Science Education, a UK-based organization that has been has been supporting teachers and science educators since 1900.