Arun Waves

September 15, 2011

Science communicator – Professor Jim Al-Khalili

Filed under: Science — Arun @ 9:48 pm
Tags: , , ,

I have never seen a documentary quiet like this where I learned so much, not only technically but also about the nature of research. I have been in research for a long time and was aware of the typical challenges but never had perspective. We all (graduate students) knew that getting funding was most difficult, there is always a sense of urgency to get results and publish, any new result would be almost certainly contested etc. But I never truly realized that it has always been the case. For example, the story of the first element to be chemically isolated – the guy who did it had to pretty much boil lots of urine using his wife’s fortune! He eventually succeeded but his coffers were empty by then and he had to sell his knowledge at a very low price. Another interesting story, the race to liquify Hydrogen – two researchers had to race each other putting everything of value at stake and of course only one won. The history of science is replete with examples of people pursuing the unknown (sometimes it is just challenging the known) while putting their regular life and stability in harms way.

Also, the presenter, Prof. Jim Al-Khalili, has done an exceptional job at projecting the sense of amazement, curiosity and wonder that comes with science. Here are some of his documentaries, each one is a masterpiece 🙂 Kudos to BBC for such a great TV series. Some of these videos can be found in YouTube or Google Videos. They may also be a great gift for school students or anyone interested in such topics. I recommend it to any school or university student who is looking for resolution.

Chemistry: A Volatile History (multi-part series) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jxd-fcubJRE (sorry couldn’t find the link to part 1/5)

Atom (multi-part series) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=80dS-xZ5-MQ

While you are at it, do also check out The Secret Life of Chaos.

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