Several years ago, I encountered a collection of youtube videos about the chemical elements, a periodic table of videos. These are made by chemists in Britain who keep their videos regularly updated, and who show the respective elements, do some experiments with them and so forth. Really fine stuff, especially for a non-specialist like me – and you can tell how excited these people get when they talk about their profession.
Now, other scientists have caught on: there are similar videos on physics and on mathematics. Of course, there can be no similarly exhausting list of videos, but they talk about their fields of expertise for a general audience. And again, these people are genuinely excited to talk about their field. Being a mathematician myself, the math videos bring few totally new things to me – but that doesn’t stop me from enjoying them a lot. Their team is a quite studded cast, comprising Barry Mazur, Ken Ribet and Don Knuth, next to professors and PhD Students. This makes me think of the physicists and chemists being similarly famous, it’s just I don’t know them… which is sad, actually. But even in mathematics, you get to know the superstars of your own field and you hardly get to know the other stars. It’s not such a small peer group, after all, until you’ve specialized.