Science and maths can open up a world of opportunity
6 December 2010
Volcanoes, the Antarctic and giant satellite-tracking lasers all play starring roles in a new series of short videos that dispel the myth that science is boring or difficult. In these videos, scientists working in a very diverse range of jobs demonstrate some of the exciting and unusual things they do.
The Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) has produced the ten videos to encourage more people to choose science options like maths, physics or chemistry at A-Level.
This 15.4 MB video runs for 3 minutes and 47 seconds. Closed captions are available.
The importance of these subjects cannot be exaggerated - studying science and maths can open up a world of careers to you and is especially pertinent given the current job market - and the first-hand accounts from the scientists support this. As physicist Vicki Smith points out, "If you continue with maths and physics you'll never be short of a job." She loves what she does and says she couldn't ask for a better job as she gets to 'play with lasers and other fantastic bits of equipment.'
The videos show the fun aspects of science, and really do dismiss the idea that it is deadly-dull and difficult. The Marine Biologist clip features Dr Ian Staniland describing his research in the Antarctic. His dialogue is interspersed with footage of the fur seals, penguins and albatrosses he works with, and anecdotes of the first-aid training he had to undergo before entering the punishing Antarctic environment. He says, "I remember sitting in A-Levels maths thinking 'when am I ever going to use this?' and now I use it all the time."
Volcanologist Tamsin Mather gets up close and personal with some passive volcanoes and says she loves the fieldwork but gets an 'enormous buzz' from analysing the data she collects.
This buzz can also be found in the cutting-edge aspect of some of the research, as demonstrated by microbiologist Dr Martha Clokie. She glows with enthusiasm as she describes the millions of bacteria and viruses found in just a teaspoon of seawater, and is seen analysing flasks of microbes in lurid green and red colours as part of her revolutionary research to help combat diseases like cancer.
Protecting the environment is also a recurring theme throughout the videos. From recording the effect of global warming on the polar ice-caps to flying aeroplanes over forests to monitor their carbon dioxide uptake, the work of each scientist highlights the impacts people have on their surroundings.
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1. The Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) is the UK's main agency for funding and managing world-class research, training and knowledge exchange in the environmental sciences. It coordinates some of the world's most exciting research projects, tackling major issues such as climate change, environmental influences on human health, the genetic make-up of life on earth, and much more. NERC receives around £400m a year from the government's science budget, which it uses to fund independent research and training in universities and its own research centres.
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