Exploring “The Secret Life of Scientists”

30 Sep

NOVA scienceNow has a cool new web feature– “The Secret Life of Scientists”— that I explored today (thanks to Facebook and Symmetry Mag).

It’s clear that this series is right up my alley– I probe my past experience and talk to scientists, in part, about what makes them tick. I’m constantly coming back to the fundamental question: what makes a good scientist?  The general themes throughout the three stories that are up: persistence and creativity.

What I think this series does particularly well is adapting a video format to the web and deliberately telling scientists’ stories in small chunks. There’s a 10 questions feature (similar to, but far more effective, than the feature on  Jay Leno’s new show), and, in another feature, the format also challenges the scientists to describe their research in 30 seconds. What’s the “secret” part? One feature explores each researcher’s outside passion– so far cooking, photography and long-distance running have made the cut. It walks the scientists-are-real-people-too line without turning it into a cliche.

Clearly NOVA has a proven track record in telling science stories with video, but I really like this site and will be coming back. In my own brief experience as an intern for TV news, I gained an appreciation for both the power of the medium, but also its difficulty and labor-intensiveness. Sometimes it tells stories in the way that no other medium can, but it’s also so easy for it to just fall flat. So, I’m thrilled with how well this format works for the web.

Here’s a link to one story from “the Leech Man.” [Science: The Bottom of Things [2:47] Shared via AddThis]

Note: I love the way the long, convoluted name of this hippo leech just rolls off his tongue as if he were saying his mother’s middle name. If you’re particularly squeamish about blood-sucking creatures and oddly disgusting body parts, start with a different video.

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