The best science videos of 2015

The Ri Channel team pick their favourite science videos from the last year.

Here in the Ri Channel office, we watch a lot of science videos. In 2015 we released 103 videos on our YouTube channel, and watched several hundred more. Here are a few of our favourites from the past 12 months.

Digital Manager Cassie nominated SciFri’s Octopus Adoabilis video from June, because: ‘I’m a sucker for octopuses (and bad puns), especially adorable ones, the video looks great, and it shows the process of science — not just the facts or cool underwater footage.’

From our own catalogue, she picked Matt Parker’s Four Dimensional Maths, saying ‘I started watching this when we published it and just kept going right to the end; there wasn’t a dull moment. Matt’s a great entertainer as well as a science communicator, and it features possibly the world’s nerdiest knitted hat.’

This year we were joined by our first animator-in-residence, Andrew Khosravani. Oein Duffy’s animation celebrating the centennial of Einstein’s theory of general relativity stood out to him: ‘It’s expertly made, beautifully animated and really engaging. A near perfect mix of animation and science communication.’

His highlight of the year on the Ri channel came from A Place Called Space, our 2015 advent calendar. ‘This piece is incredibly interesting and shows you glimpses of Earth from perspectives I have rarely seen or thought about even. Along with the visuals is some some poignant narration from people that have actually spent time in space. Pretty magical really!’

Producer Liina loved SciShow’s take on the science of anti-vaccination, ‘because it’s a brilliantly clear explanation about what drives the people who are against vaccination. It’s a very adult and reasonable argument on an incredibly important topic.’

Her favourite Ri film from 2015 comes from our ExpeRimental series: ‘This film is four and a half minutes of joy. It’s great to see kids getting so involved in experimenting, and really see their inquisitive minds light up.’

Ed, our senior producer, highlighted The Story of Light, from Bell Labs and produced by Lonelyleap. ‘I love the playful production and editing,’ he said. ‘It just has fun with the presentation of the subject matter and tries lots of things out in the video.’

Ed’s favourite piece from the team here was our animation of Jared Diamond discussing what he learnt about everyday risks from living with the people of Papua New Guinea. ‘It was our first venture into doing animation in house — I love that we were able to re-imagine archive audio from an event and turn it into a colourful and playful piece that brought new life into the content.’

My personal favourite video from 2015 is actually two videos. YouTube science powerhouses Veritasium and Smarter Every Day teamed up to do an experiment on opposite ends of the planet to answer the eternal question of whether toilets really do flush in the opposite direction in the Northern and Southern hemispheres. I love this because it’s a fantastically original, yet simple, use of videos online, and a lovely example of DIY science experimentation.

To appreciate the true genius of this production, you’ll need to be using a desktop or laptop computer, and play both videos simultaneously on the Smarter Every Day website.

And my favourite from the team here is the recent look at the Davy lamp. Bringing science history to life is deceptively hard, and I thought this film did it elegantly, and with a beautiful demo to boot.

Remember to subscribe to our channel on YouTube to keep up with our videos in 2016.