The best science videos of 2016

The Ri channel team pick their favourite science videos from the last 12 months.

YouTube provides a constant stream of high quality science videos, and we love it. From established YouTubers producing fascinating videos every week, to researchers demonstrating their findings and organisations sharing their insights, there’s more than anyone can possibly digest alone.

Here in the Ri Channel team, we do our best to watch as much of it as we can (while still leaving time to make our own contribution to the world of online science). At the start of each year we like to take a look back at the previous 12 months, pick our favourite videos from around the web, and highlight some of our own films that we’re particularly proud of. Here are the team’s choices: 

There was a bit of a battle over who got to nominate this film from NPR’s Skunk Bear channel. Ed, our senior producer, said “I love everything about it - it’s eccentric, cinematic and manages to talk about physics, chemistry, engineering and biology, all in a video about pencil lead - Bravo!”

His favourite video from our 2016 catalogue was this animation on Marie Tharp. “I love playful hand drawn style Rosanna used to tell the story of Marie Tharp, although it is paired back in its presentation and colour palette it still conveys the detail of her maps and the geology they depict - I especially love the inclusion of Jacques Cousteau and his famous red hat.”

Video Production Coordinator, Liina, loved this film from ASAP Science, “because they talk about an important everyday decision we all make - what type of food we should buy - and give a nice rounded summary of available evidence.”

Her favourite Ri video from 2016 is Sheila Rowan’s lecture on gravitational waves. “In 2016 scientists were successful in detecting gravitational waves. As a non-physicist, I wasn't really sure what it meant or why it was important, but Sheila Rowan summarises it all in a clear and interesting way.”

Our current animator-in-residence Rosanna nominated CGP Grey’s take on the split brain as her pick of 2016. She said, “I found this a fascinating explanation of how a split-brain works. It threw me into a kind of unnerving tongue(brain)-twister with the philosophical implications at the end.”

She chose a video from the 2016 advent calendar as her favourite from the team, saying “The advent videos this year were really diverse in format, and I particularly enjoyed the simplicity of the Arrow of Time video, presented with the split screen. I thought it was a compelling and elegant way to describe entropy and its significance on a grand scale.”

Honorary channel team member and occasional video presenter Jon's favourite video of 2016 was from Minute Earth. “I loved this video because it took something I knew about in a general way (climate change) and explained accessibly how we know it's happening. It's masterful use of simple animations and good script writing to deepen my knowledge of an important science story.”

His favourite Ri Channel offering was Andrew Khosravani’s animation from our project on particle accelerators with Dr Suzie Sheehy and the Science and Technology Facilities Council. “It looks great, sounds great, and has fun with the concepts it explores. I love how the little animated physicists kick the ions and physically pull them with magnets.”

As for me, a video from a research team at Harvard Medical School stands out from the last year. It’s an elegant science experiment that demonstrated a concept most people have heard of but few people can really visualise. It’s beautifully presented, simple and clever.

And my Ri video of 2016 is the carrot gun demo. It’s got all the ingredients of a classic Ri YouTube film: a beautiful and explosive demo, a sense of humour, and a chance to delve a bit deeper into something from the previous year’s CHRISTMAS LECTURES.

Don’t forget to subscribe to our YouTube channel to watch everything we come up with in 2017, and browse through this ever-expanding playlist of science videos we like for even more.

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