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.