Monday, July 30, 2012

So I made a video

I've been trying to convince some people here at Nordita that it would be great if we'd have a couple of brief videos explaining what research we're doing in addition to the seminars and lectures that we have online. You can tell that I miss PI's active public outreach program...

After some soul-searching I figured there's no way to avoid that I come up with a video myself. Ideally one that a) leaves plenty of space to do better, and that b) makes it very clear I'm not the person to record or edit any video. So here it is:

There is nothing happening in this video, except me standing there and talking, so don't expect much action.

As you can easily see, I still haven't figured out how to turn off the automatic brightness adjustment. That's because it's not my video camera, I have no manual, and the menu description is cryptic at the best.

While I'm at it, I want to draw your attention to this nice blog run by Claire Thomas, physics graduate student at UC Berkeley, who collects videos of researchers explaining why they do what they do. So, get inspired, turn on your camera and tell us what you're working on!


  1. I concur- good job. Constructive criticism (really): it is often hard to do a somewhat long video in one take. That's fine and to be expected. If one has to have those gaps anyway between segments then make a feature of it. That is, stand a foot away or so from the last segment with a slightly different posture so the viewer sees it as an intentional and somewhat edgy break. The point is to camouflage the needed separate segments as an artistic statement and do whatever it takes to make the audience think you planned it that way all along.

    Other than that one thing I have to say the camera likes

  2. Thanks, Plato :o)


    Thanks, that is a good advice, I see what you mean. I'll keep this in mind if I make another video. Best,


  3. Hi Bee,

    A truly well explained and inspirational glimpse into what it is that you do. I will definitely share this one, for it has clear not only the approach you take to what has become one of the greatest puzzles of our time, yet more so what the puzzle is and why it’s important to have solved. In respect to Eric’s advice, personally I like it not having the highest of production values as it comes off as more personally revealing and sincere; which I’ve long thought is the whole point of such introductions.

    ”The misunderstanding is not very astonishing. If you hear a scientists pronounce basic principles of science, stressing of them as particularly fundamental and of old standing, it is natural to think that he is at least strongly in favour of them. But on the other hand, you see, science never imposes anything, science states. Science aims at nothing but making true and adequate statements about its object. The scientist only imposes two things, namely truth and sincerity, imposes them upon himself and upon other scientists.”

    -Erwin Schrodinger, “What Is Life?: With Mind and Matter and Autobiographical Sketches” p-117



  4. Hi Phil,

    Thanks for the kind words. Yes, I think it's important (both for me personally as for the communication of our research) to tie it to the bigger picture. As to Eric's advice, I think what he means is if there has to be a cut anyway, then better make it boldly because it's less irritating. That's not as easy as it sounds if you can't check the camera to see where you're placed, but I guess I can try to put marks on the floor next time. Best,


  5. Video requires a meme to subduct viewer reality. It strikes hard and fast for publicity. A quality Hollywood presentation completes in an elevator ride of time. Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Killer. Here's a meme,

    Google Images
    antenna headband 150,000 hits

    Everybody in the video wears one, including revealed remote controls, computers, pads, and mobiles. Antenna Girrrl: The Awakening. "8^>)

  6. I like your video. It's technically amateurish, with all those jump cuts and lighting problems, but you present yourself very well, look good, and make your points clearly. Good job!

    However, your description of what you do leads me to question your use of the term "phenomenology." I realize this term is now widely used in physics, but historically it really belongs to the realm of philosophy. Because when we consider certain basic issues of observation, as opposed to reality per se, then we encounter certain paradoxes that cannot be resolved through scientific investigation alone.

    Phenomenology has a long history and unfortunately that history has lead to certain difficulties best expressed, I would think, in the words of Jacques Derrida, unfortunately. I say "unfortunately" because his work is so difficult and has now become so unfashionable.

    The bottom line is that if we pursue certain basic issues of phenomenology to their logical conclusion, we arrive at an abyss as profound as the abyss discovered at the heart of quantum physics by Neils Bohr. This has something to do with the most basic aspect of phenomenology, the subject-object dichotomy.

    As I see it, it should no longer be possible to do the kind of physics you are doing without also involving yourself very deeply in these very basic philosophical issues. And I'm wondering how you feel about that, and whether this is something you have ever done or feel inclined to do.

  7. Hi DocG,

    Well, to avoid misunderstandings, I explained what I mean by phenomenology. I don't think that my work involves me in philosophy, or at least not more than science in general does (in the sense that most scientists take as granted the existence of reality to begin with, which a philosopher might want to discuss). As I explained, I don't think we have good reason to believe that we'll arrive at a useful description of nature without paying attention to observational clues. Best,


  8. I commend you for making the effort to do a video about your work. In terms of videography, you are where I was about five years ago, so I can empathize.

    If you are interested in making more polished videos, you might like the information, tutorials, and tips posted here:

  9. Picture is worth of thousand of words, and the motion picture is worth of thousand of pictures. If nothing else, it reveals the subtle personality traits which are difficult to judge just from photos.

  10. Dear Bee,
    I like your video, but I like your research program even more.
    Best wishes,


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