The University of Nottingham’s chemistry-themed Periodic Table of Videos is firmly established as an internet heavyweight — attracting more than 350,000 YouTube subscribers in the last five years — and is celebrating this success in style with its 500th video.
The brainchild of video journalist Brady Haran and fronted by unlikely internet sensation Nottingham’s Professor Martyn Poliakoff, the team has travelled the globe — including Everest basecamp and Sydney’s Bondai beach — to fulfil its initial aim of making a video about each element in the periodic table. And, having established a loyal fan base, they couldn’t stop there and have now hit the 500 mark.
The celebratory 500th video is a round-up some of the series’ very best moments since its launch in 2008. It features impressive explosions, some of Professor Poliakoff’s classic lines, and lots and lots of bars of gold.
Professor Martyn Poliakoff
One of the big reasons for the videos’ success is the University’s Professor Poliakoff — as celebrated in the 500th video. But Brady had no idea how popular the professor would prove.
Brady said: “Off camera the professor is very humble and almost shy. He doesn't strike you as a clichéd ‘internet star’. But in hindsight it is that humility, combined with great knowledge, that makes him so popular. People can spot a fake — and they know Professor Poliakoff is the genuine article.”
In addition to the Poliakoff-effect, Brady believes that it’s chemistry itself which is key to the videos’ popularity. He said: “I think that even after 500 videos, the scientists are still excited to be sharing their love of chemistry. I also think the videos try to be very honest and show what life's like in a real lab. You don't see that unvarnished depiction of science too often on TV or in videos.
“We've also been lucky — with so many people making so many videos, you need a little bit of luck on YouTube.”
Periodic Table of Videos
But reaching the 500th video doesn’t signal the end — there’s lots more in the pipeline.
Brady said: “For starters we'd like to update our element videos. Some of them could be much better. There are countless molecules we’re yet to discuss. And every day there are new stories and things happening around the world with a chemistry angle.
“We've also got our hands on some new equipment and cameras which will help us show things we've not tried to capture before.”
Professor Poliakoff is equally delighted at the videos’ success. He said: “Once a journalist — not Brady — said their favourite story is the one they’re working on at the moment, and once it's done, it fades into the background. And it’s a bit like this for me — I hope that every video when we make it is going to be the best.
“I think the single video that I think is funniest, which amused me most at the time and I still like, is our original video about Hassium where at the beginning I say ‘Hassium — I know nothing about Hassium, should we make something up?’”
You can watch two Q&A videos with Professor Poliakoff on the Periodic Videos blog.
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Notes to editors: The University of Nottinghamhas 42,000 students and is ‘the nearest Britain has to a truly global university, with campuses in China and Malaysia modelled on a headquarters that is among the most attractive in Britain’ (Times Good University Guide 2014). It is also one of the most popular universities among graduate employers, one of the world’s greenest universities, and winner of the Times Higher Education Award for ‘Outstanding Contribution to Sustainable Development’. It is ranked in the World's Top 75 universities by the QS World University Rankings.
More than 90 per cent of research at The University of Nottingham is of international quality, according to the most recent Research Assessment Exercise. The University aims to be recognised around the world for its signature contributions, especially in global food security, energy & sustainability, and health. The University won a Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education for its research into global food security.
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