Category Archives: Documentary

Fun damentals: RCSB’s Protein 101

These videos provide excellent overviews of proteins and enzymes – what they are and why they are important.  They are produced by the Research Collaboratory for Structural Bioinformatics (RCSB), a part of the worldwide Protein Data Bank Archive.  The RCSB site has additional educational information for non-specialists through its PDB-101 subdomain including curricula for teachers, video challenges for high school students, and a “molecule of the month” providing interactive views into complex protein structures.

Youtube Channel: RCSBProteinDataBank

Not just hot air: The GE MS9001E gas turbine

Without much further comment, here’s a very deep look into an industrial gas turbine engine. The CAD/CAM work is terrific and one wonders at the design and manufacturing effort put into just this one product.

[Edited 3 September 2018: Original video was taken down by the Youtube poster. Replaced with another link]
[Edited 6 January 2019: No longer available on the backup site, either.  Takedowns suspected]
[Edited 13 March 2019: Aaand it is back.  For now]

Youtube Channel: Ahmed Gaber

 

Tristar Trifecta: The L-1011 and its troublesome engine

The L-1011 has mostly disappeared from the airways but is enjoying a burst of nostalgic appreciation.  Here are some history lessons and some technology lessons, at multiple levels of detail.

Youtube Channel: Mustard

Youtube Channel: The British Library

Youtube Channel: AgentJayZ

Second childhood: Techmoan’s new old tech

You’ve reached “a certain age” when the unaffordable supercosmic products of your youth have gone through at least one cycle of obsolescence and have been rediscovered as charming antiques by succeeding generations.  Vacuum tubes, LPs, cassettes, and laserdiscs are back after a fashion and the prices for old analog are reaching baseball card levels.

Meet Mat from the Merrie Olde.  His oddly named Techmoan blog and Youtube channel feature his charming analyses of old devices in a modern light.  There’s lots of tech but no actual moaning.  The videos are homemade, exceptionally well-crafted, and balance historical perspective with teardowns, light repairs, reviews, and comparisons of old against new where old often wins.  He’s been at it since 2009 but I only learned about him recently.

His presentation of the German Tefifon is a good example:

Youtube Channel: Techmoan

If that scratches an itch, here’s his RetroTech playlist:

The international man of mystery is also a trenchant comedian with a flair for puppets.

 

Shakes vs. Shav: So, beware already

It is no secret that G.B. Shaw thought very highly of himself, so much so that his last play was a ten minute Punch and Judy encounter between him and his perceived rival, Shakespeare, with Shaw coming out on top.

The Encyclopaedia Brittanica commissioned a three-part film series for schools where this rather bold claim was brought to life through the lens (ha!) of their respective embodiments of  Caesar.  Writer/director John Barnes allows Shaw (Donald Moffat) to narrate in the manner of a lengthy GBS preface and thereby gives him the advantage.   Richard Kiley and Suzanne Grossman are featured and the perfectly named Ernest Graves as Brutus lets Julius have it in the rotunda.

Cosma Shalizi
once described Stephen Wolfram’s ‘A New Kind of Science’ as “A rare blend of monster raving egomania and utter batshit insanity.” The same may or may not be true here.  On these the Ides of March, we can sit down calmly, rinse the blood off our togas, watch, listen, and judge for ourselves. Scroll down within each video window for more information on each.

Films courtesy of the Barnes Family, the Academic Film Archive, and The Internet Archive.

Shaw vs. Shakespeare I: The Character of Caesar

 

Shaw vs. Shakespeare II: The Tragedy of Julius Caesar

 

Shaw vs. Shakespeare III: ‘Caesar and Cleopatra

Giants of the Earth: Bethe, Dyson, and Knuth – oh, my!

The Web of Stories project finds legends of many disciplines and lets them speak at length about their lives and careers.   For years, one could only watch these on the project website and embed up to five videos.  This was an unfortunate limitation since these interviews are broken into well over a hundred short segments.  Now, WoS has uploaded a large fraction of its library to its Youtube channel with embeddable playlists.  Here are three leading lights of the past century, two of whom are still vigorous well into this one: Physicist Hans Bethe, polymath Freeman Dyson, and computer scientist Donald Knuth.  The breadth of their accomplishments and their constancy over decades is astonishing, their modesty likewise even though none  have anything to be modest about.

Youtube Channel: Web of Stories

Measure theory. And practice.

No, not mathematics.  Tools.  Tools which I’ve used for years but never thought about.  The vernier scale is incredibly clever.  Courtesy of The Museum of Our Industrial Heritage, Greenfield Massachusetts.

Youtube channel: Chris Clawson

Nonstandard deviations: Donald Bradman’s staggering average

The 1950 British Council love-letter to cricket gave glimpses of the 1948 Ashes matches between Australia and England where Sir Donald Bradman concluded his storied test career.   The crowd at Lords and possibly even the English team wanted to see Bradman leave on a high note but he was dismissed quickly for no runs.   In a sweet coincidence,  Australian science journalist Brady Haran has just released a Numberphile video putting that match in context of Bradman’s body of work.

Youtube Channel: Numberphile