It’s a Notts University site that has little videos about every element in the periodic table. If, like me, you’ve ever been a chemistry geek, this site will make your little heart leap with joy! 🙂
Of course, the first ones I clicked to look at where the fun ones like potassium and hydrogen. After all, the root of chemistry is the desire to blow stuff up! Or set it on fire…
Most of the time, you’ll see actual samples of the elements. Some of the more exotic ones that you can only get by smooshing other ones together down miles of linear accelerator, well, they’re harder to come by.
But at least you get a nice talk about them from the fantastic Martyn Poliakoff, whose urbane, clear delivery is only excelled by his radical ‘fro.
Being a pedant, there’s an obvious mistake I’ve noticed so far: the Swedish village of Ytterby has given its name directly to four elements, not three as two different chemists say in the vids. Yttrium, ytterbium, terbium and erbium. And another three were discovered there too – seven elements from the one town! Hooray for Ytterby!
But that’s a minor point. Really, how can anyone not love these vids? They’re pure magic. Or should I say alchemy… 🙂
This is the kind of thing that makes me glad the internet exists. As a kid, I used to pore over our set of Encyclopaedia Brittanicas, trying to learn the symbols and meanings by rote. I memorised the density of osmium at room temp (22.61 g per cc), marvelled at the fun of the alkali metals and puzzled over how to pronounce the more tongue-twisty rare earths … lanthanides… er, lanthanoids.
Seeing actual video of most of these elements – well, that would have made me as giddy and excited as it did just now, thirty-plus years later. Because, basically, chemistry is fun. I remember the first time I used a copper sulphate solution and a handy power supply (thanks, Hornby!) to plate a coin with pure, salmon-pink copper. To see that happening, in front of my eyes, was amazing. Trying to visualise what was going on with the ions, how the metal was magically appearing was good, brain-hurting fun.
So, do yourself a favour and pop over to the site, linked above. Even if you weren’t as much of a spod as I was at school, it’s fascinating to see the the elements that are in our light bulbs, catalytic converters and, of course, bodies.
Ahhh, memories… the reek of cyclohexane and my singed eyebrows is all coming back to me now… *sigh*
From: EMI/Universal/Warners/Sony BMG Joint Concerns Zaibatsu
To: Alternative Music Marketing Heads CC: MTV, VH1, NME, Melody Maker
(Please read original goal-target conditioning proposal, linked here)
This document is a contingent re-appraisal of socio-semiotic factors concerning the marketing of white, rock, guitar bands aimed at the demographic formally identified by CERN as schmindie kids. Since the original document, certain market trends have shifted signifiers. This document should be seen as both addendum and corollary to that document, further refining the marketing of our schmindie bands.
Problem 1: Unlike most genres, schmindie kids find caring “uncool” and “funny.” It is particularly uncool to care about war, politics, religion or anything else beyond clothes and haircuts / cigarettes and alcohol. Apathy and ignorance are their ideals. Therefore, we must create meaningless content that fills up hours of airtime while never actually saying anything.
SOLUTIONS: Original document strategies apply here, with some adjustments. Acceptable templates are:
* Band members running somewhere from something
* Children running somewhere from something
* Old people running somewhere from something
* Performance video by band in “quirky” / “cool” location
* Performance video by old people / children pretending to be band in “quirky” / “cool” location
* Combinations of all of the above, rendered in slow-motion
NOTE: There must be no narrative attempt to explain why the locomotion is occurring. Meaning is the enemy of all schmindie videos. We do not want the consumer to be prodded into thought, only to consume.
Problem 2. Schmindie kids are a middle-class demographic, hence they scorn aspirational working-class values. Therefore, schmindie videos cannot appear to be luxurious, grandiose or well-funded (even though they are all three). But we must place product on television because our target demographic never search out new music independently. It must appear before them, on a televisual platter. Therefore, we require high quality fake lo-fi.
* Shoot video on cheap camcorders, preferably “cool” obsolete models from the ’80s / ’70s.
* Shoot HD but add post-processing film grain, dirt and gate stutters. This achieves “cool.”
* Shoot on 16 or 8mm film for cheap, “cool” / lo-fi feel. (Additional cost of shooting film to be withheld from artists.)
* Shoot HD but post-process to resemble YouTube video. This achieves “cool.”
NOTE: If sufficient care is paid to the falsification of lo-fi-ness, the schmindie kid will be prefectly targeted. Remember, the ideal result is that our target believes the band made the video themselves with borrowed equipment on a low budget. If they learn the video cost more than a small house, this negates “cool.”
EXTRA NOTE: Some newer colleagues have been questioning the purpose of spending such a large amount of money on a three or four-minute film with no narrative or purpose. They seem to forget: schmindie videos are not art, they are adverts for our product. We spend to accumulate.
EXTRA EXTRA NOTE: Said colleagues have also raised the question: why fake lo-fi at such great expense? The answer is obvious to older members. Real lo-fi is only produced by artists who are troublesome, wayward and unreasonable.
Problem 3. Schmindie bands are all attractive, thin and fashionable. Those qualities are, in fact, all that schmindie bands care about. But attractive is “uncool” in the current schmindie-culture phase. Quirky is “cool” since schmindie culture has now caught-up with Woody Allen’s 1980 product, ‘Stardust Memories.’ How do we reconcile the bands we sign, who have to be attractive, with the schmindie “quirky” aesthetic?
* Place band in animal suits. (Not good ones, suits must be cheap to be perceived as “cool.”)
* Place band in masks.
* Dress band as geeks / nerds. (Bands may complain but emphasise how “cool” geek is in the current market.)
* Replace band with animated video, preferably fake-lo-fi stop motion.
* Put very large, ’80s-style spectacles on band. This achieves “cool.” (Narrow spectacles have been officially disavowed. Please destroy.)
* Surround band with “quirky” extras to defuse band’s pulchritude. (Obese men in leotards, dwarves, twins, old people.)
NOTE: As of January 2008, animal suits have now been mandated for all schmindie videos by MTV alernative channels. Unless 83% of a schmindie video features the artist(s) dressed in ill-fitting badger, rabbit and bear costumes, MTV will refuse to play it. (Animation is the only acceptable alternative.)
We here at the Joint Concerns Zaibatsu endeavour to inform our colleagues in the schmindie sector of developments in that market. We believe that profit is only maximised when the fit between marketing and target is seamless and invisible from the target side. Thus, we recommend the immediate propagation of the above guidelines to all non-conforming video departments. Studying and applying its strategies will bolster the illusion of choice we must maintain in order to differentiate (and therefore sell) our thousand flavours of vanilla.
OH HAI! Folio Harbinger here! I’ve been asked to write a little follow-up here, not in the jargonese above. Hey, I’m a creative type, I don’t do jargon! LULZ! No, but seriously, it’s up to us creatives to implement what the boss fellas (and laydeez, me no sexisty!) require. As a top schmindie video director, I feel I have a handle on how to ‘splain the whole ting! ROFL! Steve LAMAO!
So, here’s the ideal schmindie video in 2008:
The band are dressed up in bad animal costumes, running through a deserted town or woodland, in the dark or daytime. They bump into “quirky” and “hilarious” types (think of those great 118 advert guys) who give them cool things (’80s computers are waycool now, also Raleigh Choppers and Big Traks). Then they all breakdance while fireworks launch behind them. Final shot: SLOW-MO! Band in garage with heads revealed, rocking out to an audience of hired cool friends who are all wearing amazing big ’80s glasses. Simple, innit?
This is all shot on VHS-C or, if you can afford it, 8mm. HD is acceptable if you post-process to look shitty. Remember, this is schmindie, the shittier the better!
Thanks guys, good luck and see you at the Brits!