Science Meets YouTube: Embedded JoVE Videos

September 07, 2007

A recent D-F article discussed the potential for online videos in chemical research. Although chemistry has been slow to catch on, biologists have been busy creating phenomenal video content. One of the best efforts in this space is the Journal of Visualized Experiements (JoVE).

YouTube videos spread so quickly in part because of their ability to be embedded into other Websites. This might not seem like a big deal, but it is. The reason is simple: when you embed someone else's content in your own, you create something fundamentally new.

Although JoVE doesn't yet support public video embedding, it's a feature under active development. Nikita Bernstein, co-founder and editor of JoVE, was kind enough to provide me with an early preview of JoVE video embedding. You see the result displayed at the top of this article. Videos can be embedded both in a vertical format, as is done here, or a horizontal format.

Now, if you're a chemists, injecting mosquitoes may not be your thing. But just think about all of the procedures you've done that used an unfamiliar apparatus, produced an unusual color, called for a difficult crystallization, foamed, became too viscous to stir or filter, or used an uncommon technique. Think of all of the details essential to reproducibility that get left out of a written description. Then think of all of the dirty jobs that are carried on by oral tradition: maintaining a dry box; dealing with flammable spent catalyst; cleaning a solvent still; quenching butyllithium.

Video certainly won't be useful in documenting every part of chemistry, but there are vast swaths of unexplored territory, such as experimentals, where it could change the game significantly.