How Chemists Decorate a Christmas Tree

Back in 2007, Brady Haran was making short films on science for the BBC and the University of Nottingham. Some of the material – scientists talking about their work in an informal setting – was uploaded to YouTube under the name “Test Tube”. The next year, he teamed up with Professor Martyn Poliakoff to make short videos about each chemical element. The “Periodic Videos” YouTube channel branched out to discuss molecules and other chemistry-related topics, and has earned praise from scientists, educators, and the media. Haran has branched out; he now has over a dozen channels covering everything from word origins (Words of the World) to psychology (Psyfile) to the history of science (Objectivity).

The above video is from 2009.

I’d have put caffeine on the tree, myself…….

Christmas with Mr. Weebl

You’ll find a lot of people on YouTube these days who consider themselves celebrities. But none of them can hold a candle to Jonti Picking of the UK. An animator and musician, he uploaded his first video to the Web in June of 2002. It featured two egg-shaped beings called “Weebl” and “Bob”. Since then, he’s produced something like 200 videos, and has done some professional advertising work.

Over the years, Weebl and Bob have appeared in a number of Christmas-themed shorts. This one is #4:

In addition to Weebl and Bob, he’s done a few other series (with their own Christmas episodes):

“On the Moon” with the Toast King and Insanity Prawn Boy:

“Cat Face”, about a giant-headed floating cat:

For 2013 through 2015, he did “Advent Calendars” – one short animation per day for December, leading up to Christmas. Here are all the videos from 2014 in one convenient place:

Picking’s production seems to have tailed off recently. One can forgive him; fourteen years on the Internet is a very, very, VERY long time.

Well, if by chance you come across this, thanks for all the laughs, Mr. Picking, and a Merry Christmas to you and yours!

A Christmas Mix for You – 2016

This could turn out to be a habit. I’ve collected so much Christmas music over the years (around 7 GB worth!) from various places around the Internet, including many music sharing blogs, that I feel rather compelled to share some of my favorite finds with you.

Here’s this year’s collection.

Over an hour of holiday, well, cheer – I hope.

The list after the jump.

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Seasons Greetings from Apollo 8

Apollo 8 was originally planned to be a test of the Lunar Module in Earth orbit in early 1969. But in September of 1968, the Soviets had sent a couple of animals around the Moon – and brought them back safely. Clearly, they were well ahead of us in getting to the Moon. When the LEM kept having engineering problems, the manager of the Apollo Spacecraft Program Office, George Low, suggested that they simply send the Command & Service Module combination into lunar orbit. It would mean rushing things, but it was something that would have to be done anyway.

Apollo 8 lifted off at 7:51 AM EST on December 21, with Commander Frank Borman, Command Module Pilot Jim Lovell, and Lunar Module Pilot Bill Anders aboard. Once at the Moon, they orbited it ten times, checking equipment. Bill Anders did most of the reconnaissance photography, checking potential landing sites.

On December 24, they gave a special broadcast, with over a billion people listening in.

The Command Module splashed down in the Pacific Ocean at 8°8′N 165°1′W at 10:51:42 EST December 27. Total mission duration was 6 days, 3 hours, 42 seconds. Apollo 8 came back with a ton of “Firsts”: First manned flight of a Saturn V. First launch from the Kennedy Space Center. First manned mission beyond Earth orbit. First manned mission to reach the Moon…. From a technical standpoint, this was a much greater achievement than Apollo 11. By July of 1969, all the engineering problems had been solved. Apollo 8 was when we proved we could actually send men to the Moon and bring them back safely.

Movie Review: Santa’s Slay (2005, Canada)

The “evil Santa” trope has been around for ages…. or it least it seems that way. Krampus doesn’t count (no matter what the contrarians trying to revive his legend might think), nor does Santa Claus Conquers the Martians. For some reason, the idea of the traditional holiday bringer of cheer becoming the holiday bringer of death is popular with the producers of cheap horror films. The producers of Santa’s Slay decided to take that idea, toss what must have been some decent cash at it, and turn it into a comedy.

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A Christmas Mix for You – 2015

Another collection of holiday music that you may not hear anywhere else…. Still haven’t figured out how to balance the audio levels…

http://www.dropbox.com/s/3yzp0ux8u1lj0fd/Christmas%20Mix%202015.zip?dl=0

By the way, if you can’t get enough of that good holiday music, I recommend these blogs:

Christmas A Go Go
FaLaLaLaLa
Merry and Bright
Mistletunes
Music You (Possibly) Won’t Hear Anyplace Else
Stubby’s House Of Christmas

They’ve provided me with much of my collection over the years. Check them out!

List of songs in this year’s collection and notes below the jump:

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Wassail!

One of the lesser holiday traditions is that of Wassail. Not just the warm apple-based drink, but the old Anglo-Saxon tradition of communal visits, drinking, and well-wishing. These days, our communities are a little too spread out for the door-to-door visits and the requisite drinking, but there’s no reason you can’t do it safely at home with your friends.

 

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