Viral Science

Friday morning started with a random email. I was made aware of the fact that Graham Linehan, writer of Father Ted and The IT Crowd, had tweeted about a blog post which Inside Knowledge blog (a multimedia blog produced by me, David Robertson, Anna Perman and Ben Good in the summer) had posted in July 2011.!/Glinner/status/170383931898736640

Wow! Now that is pretty awesome! I thought that Friday couldn’t get much better… but I was wrong.

Initially picked up by Boing Boing, the post which the Inside Knowledge team had put together last summer started popping up on various websites from Gizmodo (“Seven Nation Army Played on Science Lab Kit is a Nerdtastic Delight”) to Design Boom, and everything in between. By the end the day I had lost count of how many sites the link appeared on; it was definitely well over 50! The link even appeared on the CBS news blog!

Currently the video has been viewed 138,393 times… and the number just keeps rising!

Inspired by The Blast Lab, a research group at Imperial College who we had embedded ourselves with last summer, the Inside Knowledge team had sought to find a way to demonstrate the truly collaborative nature of science.

This video was constructed from scratch, using real sounds and footage from the lab. Some adjustment of the raw sound was necessary, and string sounds had to be recreated using stringed instruments. As with any complex project, pulling together the disparate pieces was a real challenge!

While it may seem lighthearted, there’s a strong message behind the video. The finished product of a scientific investigation, like a song, is inevitably the result of days of practice, experimentation and collaboration. A scientist might have an idea of what they want their investigation to sound like, but the process of science will throw up challenges, test creativity and occasionally uncover entirely new melodies.

This was just one aspect of lab life we illustrated over the summer. It is wonderful to see something that we produced really resonate with people. See more of the multimedia content we produced at the Inside Knowledge blog on the PLoS blogs network. And if you haven’t seen the video yet…


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