Transgenic spidergoats, psychedelic plankton and 70’s turtlenecks all at the RI channel

As a long time TED fan I was really pleased to discover that  The Royal Institution have developed the RI channel, a new video platform, for both their own and others’ popular science videos and lectures.

Although still in Beta at the moment, it is beautifully designed, with high quality videos, and content is being added regularly.

I’m also enjoying the attention to art and design. Here is their new ident.

In true “showing your workings” you can read about making the ident in their blog,

The so-cool-it-hurts agency The Bureau for Visual Affairs that designed and built the video platform, guest blogs about how the “video stack” was designed, and details what technologies (some Open Source) that it runs upon.

Here are some viewing suggestions

The Plankton Chronicles  (or here) “A teaspoon of seawater can contain more than a million creatures”. This series (6 videos, each 6 minutes) is compiled purely of gorgeous videography of sometimes microscopic creatures, with a first-person voiceover describing the life of the plankton, and some thoughtful, emotive sound design. I love nearly  everything about the presentation of these films, and the duration too… a manageable 6 minutes each. Go, watch these as full screen and be amazed and inspired (Geiger?! Cronenberg?! LSD?! “The Abyss”?) by the colour, movement and unseen drama of this secret world.

Transgenic Spidergoats (6 minutes)  Short documentary about  how to get silk from milk. The material, initially produced by spiders has “tensile strengths greater than kevlar”  and could be used to replace or repair  ligaments and tendons. With genetically modified goats, the protein is produced in their milk. [An aside] How fun are those words? Say it again, transgenic spidergoats!

Consciousness – the hard problem  Presentations (30 minutes) and a panel discussion (63 minutes) with the Guardian’s science correspondent Alok JhaDr Anil Seth from Brighton’s Sackler Center for Conciousness studies, neuroscientist and author of Making Up The Mind Professor Chris Frith, and philosopher Dr Barry Smith

Christmas Lectures 1977 – The Planets by Carl Sagan. Scientist and sci-fi author Carl Sagan presents 6 lectures (about 60 minutes a piece) about our planet, the history of life on Earth and our place in the solar system. Presented in glorious 4:3, seemingly straight from a glitchy video tape, this is reminiscent of those old Open University programmes you’d see on BBC1 . Bit too long-form for my tastes but worth a quick look to see why Carl Sagan was so beloved for sharing his passion for science and enquiry with the general public.

Coming soon is a discussion with two British authors, Discworld (a guilty pleasure of mine for many years) creator Sir Terry Pratchett and sci-fi author Stephen Baxter. Their new series of novels entitled ‘The Long Earth‘ is inspired by the many-worlds interpretation of quantum theory and is introduced by philosopher of physics David Wallace.

You can keep up to date with new videos appearing on RI channel by following them on  @ri_science  or signing up to the newsletter.

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