The Vega Science Trust

By Mark Trodden | November 18, 2005 12:00 pm

Ed Copeland is a British particle cosmologist (and occasional collaborator of mine), who just moved from Sussex University to the University of Nottingham to head up a particle theory group. He recently pointed out to me the Vega Science Trust, of which he is a trustee.

Vega is dedicated to creating high quality science programming for broadcast on television and on the Internet. It was established in 1995 by Sir Harry Kroto, who won a share of the 1996 Nobel Prize in chemistry for the discovery of the Carbon-60 molecule. It shows a true dedication to public science communication that he started this project before winning the prize (although he had, of course, already done the relevant work at that point).

The website contains large numbers of downloadable videos of outstanding scientists communicating their work. Ed commented to me that when he starts watching any of the four Feynman lectures, it is hard for him to stop. I feel the same way about many of the others. When I watch those on subjects far outside my research areas, I am reminded of the fun I used to have every year as a kid, watching the Royal Institution Christmas Lectures.

You can watch the Lindau lectures, in which Nobel prize winners discuss their work in succinct, clear ways. You can watch talks about science and politics (Tony Benn, for example, for our British visitors). You can watch John Maynard Smith, the famous evolutionary biologist, who died last year on the 122nd anniversary of Darwin’s death, talking about flight. And there are many more.

If you’re interested in how scientists come to choose this career, take a look at the snapshots series – 15 minute video clips in which scientists describe how they came into science. You’ll discover that we come from surprisingly diverse backgrounds.

The Vega site is delightful – a wonderful resource – and I’m extremely grateful to Ed for turning me on to it.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Science, Science and Society
  • http://www.damtp.cam.ac.uk/user/gr/ damtp_dweller

    I just want to say thanks for clueing me in to the Feynman lectures on the Vega website. I’m watching the first one at the moment and I’m absolutely enthralled. These should be compulsory for grad students as they show that you can really get an idea across by engaging with your audience.

    Priceless, magical stuff.

  • http://pantheon.yale.edu/~eal48 Eugene

    Aye to that! The lectures were great. Here I am, with a PhD, and that was the first time I ever heard Feynman’s voice.

  • Moshe

    Same here, in fact I am amazed how different his voice and body language is from what I had imagined, based on all the myths.

  • agm

    The Lindau Lectures?

  • agm

    Sorry, Landau on the brain.

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/cosmicvariance/mark/ Mark

    Yes, they’re atually the Lindau, not Landau. I had to check for myself while writing, because I wondered if it was a typo.

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Cosmic Variance

Random samplings from a universe of ideas.

About Mark Trodden

Mark Trodden holds the Fay R. and Eugene L. Langberg Endowed Chair in Physics and is co-director of the Center for Particle Cosmology at the University of Pennsylvania. He is a theoretical physicist working on particle physics and gravity— in particular on the roles they play in the evolution and structure of the universe. When asked for a short phrase to describe his research area, he says he is a particle cosmologist.

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