The Periodic Table of Videos is 10 years old today

24 Jun 2018 02:00:00.000

They have 1,074,181 subscribers and have won numerous awards, and today – Sunday 24th June 2018 - the team behind the Periodic Videos are celebrating ten years since they posted their very first film on Youtube.

Six hundred and thirty nine videos later they will be marking their 10th birthday with a video in which the star of the show, Professor Sir Martyn Poliakoff, from the School of Chemistry at the University of Nottingham, will list his 10 favourite videos over the past decade. 

For tens of thousands of fans world-wide Professor Sir Martyn Poliakoff is the face of the Periodic Table. He said: “It has been a fantastic and really enjoyable adventure for me and my colleagues.  What started as a quick project for the summer has become an on-going educational activity reaching out to a global audience, from young children to Nobel Prizewinners.  Who knows where it will lead next?”

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Tables charting the chemical elements have been around since the 19th century - but this modern version has a short video about each one of the chemical elements – accessed via a special interactive Periodic Table The person behind the project is video journalist Brady Haran and his videos feature real working chemists at the University of Nottingham.

Fun, lively and unconventional

The Periodic Table of Videos (PTOV) exploded on to the social media scene back in 2008 when scientists in the University’s School of Chemistry started working with Brady Haran on their mission to document every single one of the 118 chemical elements in a fun, lively and often unconventional way.

The Periodic Videos have made unlikely YouTube stars of its scientific presenters. Since that first video was posted the team has filmed experiments for most of the elements and regularly update the videos with new stories, better samples and bigger experiments.

By Wednesday 19th June, the videos had attracted 182,840,933 views, with a total viewing time of  579,177,908 minutes - the equivalent of a staggering 1,100 years.

In December 2010 the team filmed the making of the world’s smallest periodic table. Created by experts in the University of Nottingham’s Nanotechnology and Nanoscience Centre as a birthday present for Sir Martyn, it was officially recognised by the Guinness Book of Records the following October.

Capturing awards and accolades

In February 2012 Professor Martyn Poliakoff received two top accolades from the world of science for his work to raise the profile of chemistry. He was awarded the Royal Society of Chemistry’s Nyholm Prize for Education for his work on the Periodic Table of Videos, and was elected as a Foreign Member of the Russian Academy of Sciences. Last year, He was elected a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in recognition of his promotion of science to the public.

In 2015 when Professor Poliakoff was Knighted in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours the occasion was marked with a video. And a camera was also on hand the following June when Martyn went to the palace to receive his knighthood.  

In May 2017, the cult hero of Periodic Videos, technician Neil Barnes, recieved one of the highest accolades from the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) – the President’s Award for outstanding contributions to the dissemination, advancement or applications of chemical science.

Next year will mark 150 years since Mendeleev proposed the first Periodic Table. And to mark the event, UNESCO has declared 2019 as the Internaional Year of the Periodic Table.  Periodic Videos will be making the most of the celebrations to make new videos to inspire the next generation of scientists across the world.

In June 2009 the Periodic Videos team baked a special cake to mark their first anniversary. Because it was cooked in the lab it couldn’t be eaten - so they exploded it! Wait until Sunday to see how they celebrate their 10th anniversary. The video will be available from midday on Sunday via this link

Keep up to date with what’s happening on twitter: @periodicvideos

A growing fanbase

Recent messages from fans include:

A 7 year-old boy called Daigo from Malaysia “ Dear Sir Poliakoff, I love your videos and I love when you breathed in helium and had a cute voice.  I want to be a chemist like you.

DJB in the USA “I want you to know that your YouTube videos saved my life. I was on a bad path and was lost until I watched a video about heavy water. I was amazing that you took the time to tell me something that I was interested in for free. I could go on and on about how much I respect you and honor your studies.  I'm still learning a lot from you and I even turned my life of crime and hopelessness to the man I am becoming today. I just wanted to say thank you for everything and that words cannot express how much I value your opinion and knowledge.”

SL from Malaysia:  “My 3-year-old daughter is mysteriously very much in love with chemistry. So much so that she memorised the periodic table just before she turned 3. I pretty much almost failed chemistry in high school, absolutely no help to her, so I gave her free usage of the tablet.. and she found your videos.To cut this rant somewhat short, she told me something bizarre tonight, when I thought she was already sound asleep! She said that she will discover an element lighter than Hydrogen by splitting it, and will make sure it's not flammable.. and that its half life is not like Francium's.. and name it Jette-ium, after herself. God save me!”


— Ends —

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Notes to editors: 

The University of Nottingham is a research-intensive university with a proud heritage, consistently ranked among the world's top 100. Studying at the University of Nottingham is a life-changing experience and we pride ourselves on unlocking the potential of our 44,000 students - Nottingham was named University of the Year for Graduate Employment in the 2017 Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide, was awarded gold in the TEF 2017 and features in the top 20 of all three major UK rankings. We have a pioneering spirit, expressed in the vision of our founder Sir Jesse Boot, which has seen us lead the way in establishing campuses in China and Malaysia - part of a globally connected network of education, research and industrial engagement. We are ranked eighth for research power in the UK according to REF 2014. We have six beacons of research excellence helping to transform lives and change the world; we are also a major employer and industry partner - locally and globally.

Impact: The Nottingham Campaign, its biggest-ever fundraising campaign, is delivering the University’s vision to change lives, tackle global issues and shape the future. More news…


Story credits

More information is available from Professor Martyn Poliakoff, in the School of Chemistry at the University of Nottingham on +44 (0)115 951 3520, 
 Author Lindsay Brooke

Lindsay Brooke - Media Relations Manager

Email: Phone: +44 (0)115 951 5751 Location: University Park

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