20 January 2011

Earth science (off) the air

Posted by Jessica Ball

After watching Dr. Neil DeGrasse Tyson talk about traveling to Mars on PBS’s NOVA scienceNOW – which I almost missed last night! – I wanted to see how else I could catch programs on Earth science. More and more programs are being offered online, some very soon after they’re aired, so I thought I’d take a quick look around and see what’s available for a grad student who doesn’t necessarily have the energy to stay up late watching TV.

Here’s a breakdown by provider of some of my favorites (short and long), with summaries from their respective websites. I won’t say that they’re all totally scientifically accurate, but most of them do a pretty good job, and some may be useful for teaching purposes as well as entertainment.

American Experience:¬†Dinosaur Wars “In the late 19th century, paleontologists Edward Cope and O.C. Marsh uncovered the remains of hundreds of prehistoric animals in the American West, including dozens of previously undiscovered dinosaur species. But the rivalry that developed between them would spiral out of control, permanently damaging their careers and threatening the future of American paleontology.”

NOVA: Secrets Beneath the Ice “Is Antarctica headed for a catastrophic meltdown? New evidence of ancient climate change may hold clues.”

NOVA: Deadliest Earthquakes – “In 2010, several epic earthquakes delivered one of the worst annual death tolls ever recorded. The deadliest strike, in Haiti, killed more than 200,000 people and reduced homes, hospitals, schools, and the presidential palace to rubble. In exclusive coverage, a NOVA camera crew follows a team of U.S. geologists as they enter Haiti in the immediate aftermath of the tragedy.”

Wired Science: Flotsam Found“Retired oceanographer Curt Ebbesmeyer and his colleague tracked thousands of plastic toys that fell off a freighter during a storm to map current patterns.”

Nature: Violent Hawaii“The Hawaiian chain of islands, made up of six main islands plus two smaller ones, stretches for more than 1,500 miles through the heart of the Pacific Ocean. It is a place of idyllic beauty. But it is also a land of volcanic fury, raging mountaintop blizzards, dangerous rockslides, monster waves, and even tsunamis.”

Note: Much of PBS’s content is archived online, and they put up videos pretty quickly after they’re aired – these are only a few of the ones I found. In addition, they now have an iPhone/iPad/iPodTouch app, as well as a pretty extensive set of websites to accompany their programs.

Discovery Channel: Volcanoes Playlist – Collection of video clips, most from the “Understanding Volcanoes” program, depicting volcanic processes and hazards.

Discovery Channel: Raging Planet PlaylistMore video clips on subjects from earthquakes to storms to flooding.

Stashing CO2 in Rocks“Basalt formations off the East Coast of the U.S. could hold a billion of tons of carbon dioxide, according to anew study in the¬†Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Paul Olsen, of Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, takes us to a basalt quarry in New Jersey and explains what makes the rock ideal for soaking up emissions.”

A Library of Mud“Dig into the world’s largest collection of ocean sediments. Peter deMenocal, a marine geologist at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, and Rusty Lotti Bond, curator of the Deep Sea Sample Repository, show off the collection and explain what it’s good for.”

Hotel Mauna KeaOkay, this one is more space than Earth science, and more musical than scientific to boot, but I have to applaud the scientists who made it. (And included the excellent guitar bits!)

United States Geological Survey YouTube ChannelVideo podcasts of news, research, and basic information about geologic concepts and hazards.

American Museum of Natural History YouTube ChannelClips about exhibits, science and research at the Museum.

ResearchChannel“ResearchChannel is a nonprofit media and technology organization that connects a global audience with the research and academic institutions whose developments, insights and discoveries affect our lives and futures.” An aggregator for short an long videos from research universities all over the country. Some neat lectures, including “Charles Darwin: Geologist” and “Fishlift: The Recovery of an Ichthyosaur”, but it takes a little searching to find the Earth science-focused ones.

National Geographic YouTube Channel Takes a little bit of digging, but features geoscience posts accompanying magazine stories, as well as clips from their TV programs.

**UPDATE** Obviously my brain wasn’t working so well last night when I posted this and forgot AGUvideos, the YouTube Channel where you can watch all sorts of amazing Earth science stuff, including conference talks.

This is by no means an exhaustive list, but it’s a good place to start. (I tend to get so fascinated with the PBS programs that I just park myself on their website, but that’s just me – there’s no reason to limit yourself!) Places like YouTube and Vimeo are great for short clips, but to find content that you want to sit down and watch for pleasure, it’s worth it to do a little extra digging.