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Scientists Get Their Groove On On YouTube 77

Posted by kdawson
from the getting-down dept.
merg717 writes "Six weeks ago, the Gonzo Scientist challenged researchers around the world to interpret their Ph.D. research in dance form, film the dance, and share it with the world on YouTube (Science, 10 October, p. 186). By the 11 p.m. deadline this past Sunday, 36 dances — including solo ballet and circus spectacle — had been submitted online." The vitamin D dance is particularly strange.
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Scientists Get Their Groove On On YouTube

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 28, 2008 @12:28PM (#25916599)
    Beautiful.

    Makes me want to go down to the capital with a sign saying:

    Less Invasions, More Equations

  • Experiment (Score:2, Funny)

    by pubjames (468013)

    What the researchers didn't know was that this was an experiment in itself. The question the experiment aimed to answer was "Do researchers have too much free time, and do they waste time which is paid for using taxpayers money?"

    The full paper will be published in Scientific America once it has completed peer review.

    • by Zanth_ (157695)

      Except they did it on their own personal free time, outside of work hours, thereby mooting your point. Had they been Federal government researchers, your point would stand!

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by H0p313ss (811249)

      The full paper will be published in Scientific America once it has completed peer review.

      You've never actually read Scientific American have you?

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      If it is going to be peer reviewed, I doubt they'd publish it in Scientific America... Though a quick review for spelling mistakes could get it published there...
    • by chissg (948332)
      <troll-feed reason="too many people actually believe this horses**t">

      What, pray, leads you to believe that this was done, "on the clock?" Having been a researcher myself (I "earned" my education while mooching off several governments, actually) I can tell you that far more work gets done off the clock than on. If everyone who researched using the hallowed taxpayer dollars only did 8x5, you'd soon learn how much real research those would buy without the dedication, love for the subject and general w

    • Do researchers have too much free time, and do they waste time which is paid for using taxpayers money?"

      Do the president and congress count as researchers? Oooh, burn!

  • Idle (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Clay Pigeon -TPF-VS- (624050) on Friday November 28, 2008 @12:37PM (#25916675) Journal

    Why is an idle story filed under science?

    • by Daimanta (1140543)

      Contamination. This way if Idle is a failure, they can still spam all the other sections with Idle crap. Everbody loses that way but /. doesn't care.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by TheSpoom (715771) *

      Eh.

      Fun does not necessarily mean "relegated to idle".

      I like my Slashdot to be varied.

    • More to the point, why can't I block kdawson stories from the front page since I agreed to test the new index2.pl? Or revert back to the original, where I could.
    • by MrMista_B (891430)

      Because most people block and ignore Idle, and not Science.

      Seriously, Idle is like a virus or something, and it's infecting the rest of /. somehow. If we're going to have such a spam section on here to begin with, let's use it and keep stuff like this where it belongs.

  • well, part of me thinks its a bit of fun (like the IgNobels), it raises the awareness of their research and - quite frankly - anything that makes Engineering and Science look like a more attractive offering is fine by me as we need to increase the headcount.

    but...

    the other part of me thinks. what. the. fuck? these people fought hard for their funding and are doing dance?
    • If you just finished a massive research paper, wouldn't you want to dance?

      I think that these are happy people eager to show their hard work to others.

    • by WamBam (1275048)
      Thesis work can be a long, grueling experience. I'm sure that rather then make science seem more attractive - who is really going to moved by a dance about cell processes? - these dances were intended to give these very hard workers a break from the routine and also think about their research in a different way. Scientists need to think outside the 'box' as much as they need to have fun. It's not as if they're actually going to submit their dances instead of publishing their work. Very well done, I say.
    • Re:wtf. (Score:4, Insightful)

      by popmaker (570147) on Friday November 28, 2008 @02:51PM (#25917653)
      Maybe they just wanted to have fun, and didn't think anything more of it. Just a little bit of "hey, let's behave like molecules, it'll be pretty funny".

      I doubt any one of them HAD to do it. And I doubt any one of them was trying to advance their career. Did I miss out on any detail in the article? I honestly think they don't care one way or the other. And I honestly think they got a kick out of it.
  • Pilobolus Dance Company - must have been a steaming performance.
  • by bossanovalithium (1396323) on Friday November 28, 2008 @12:46PM (#25916769)
    I find it interesting that science based Phd students are able to be this creative - they are dealing with very intangible things, and correlating them to a form of communication that they are traditionally not known to be able to identify with. I am not sure sure how I would equate dance to my line of work, so more power to them!
    • by earlymon (1116185) on Friday November 28, 2008 @02:27PM (#25917437) Homepage Journal

      I find it interesting that science based Phd students are able to be this creative - they are dealing with very intangible things, and correlating them to a form of communication that they are traditionally not known to be able to identify with.

      Not known by whom? You? The popular media?

      I'm a graybeard (literally) sick of this stereotype.

      FYI - Dweebs exist in EVERY discipline - and they are better suited as the outlyers, not the norm, for their disciplines. /. is rife with science and engineering types - but just look at the post counts for any topic dealing with: music, DRM, films and YRO. That is more than merely anecdotal, it speaks clearly to the developed mind being whole, ready to embrace all that life offers.

      I've worked in science and engineering most of my life. Creativity is not the exception - it is the norm. Introspection is a strict requirement for the creative mind - it is denigrated as introversion. Excitement and a need to express excitement over complex work is denigrated as yet another computer-wearing-tennis-shoes running his mouth without social skills. I say that the non-receptive audience is the grown-up from not-paying-attention-in-school crowd. My wife is a well-known and accomplished artist - as are her friends. Her friends and mine never have trouble getting along, relating, or enjoying fun things - be it art, dance, music - or high tech toys and scientific concepts. The creative mind seeks its own kind, not its own narrow expression of specialization.

      The mind of a scientific researcher lives in a fine balance - on one side, beyond the fringe thinking, the only true way NEW ideas are born - on the other side, strict conservatism, the only way crackpotism is avoided.

      Mathematics is the language of science. Everyone here with a hard science degree knows that each semester there were fewer and fewer students in the theoretical math classes - the language is not accessible to everyone. JS Bach was quite a mathist - and purposely expressed his music as such. From what I know, Miles Davis was not so - but his music contains math anyway. The point of that? Math is the language of science - and science is the outcome of the mind of humankind trying to understand the universe.

      The stars dance. Molecules dance. Quarks dance. Dogs dance. DNA dances. Why shouldn't the very people who work the hardest to understand those dances not dance themselves?

      • by s66iw (1214466)
        Wish I had mod points - I'd give them all to you, sir.
      • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Miles Davis certainly knew his music theory.
        From thousands and thousands of hours of scales, arpeggios, classical theory study etc.

        I would compare him to Picasso. Many people look at Picasso's later work and forget his earlier studies. He was a master draftsman, and capable of almost photo-realistic painting.

        With Miles Davis, people listen to the end result, where he is breaking the rules and playing with the conventions, and forget that he could play a totally straight be-bop sticking to the modes. Or inde

        • by earlymon (1116185)

          Roger that, Houston!

          I haven't taken music theory and therefore don't know that much higher math is explicitly taught (my point in using him as an example). But as you point out, the accomplished mind doesn't always reveal itself in obvious ways.

          I am reminded of a lecture by Dick Heyser where in the middle of explaining, he pointed at the equations on his blackboard, and agitatedly said that that wasn't math - it was just squiggles representing the math in his head. (Those unfamiliar with him may be interes

      • by hobbit (5915)

        /. is rife with science and engineering types - but just look at the post counts for any topic dealing with: music, DRM, films and YRO.

        I do look at them. Most of them boil down to "information wants to be free", and most of them consider this patently obvious and are incredulous that not everyone "gets it". As a PhD student myself, I very much recognise the completely-out-of-touch-with-the-common-man stereotype.

        • by earlymon (1116185)

          As a PhD student myself, I very much recognise the completely-out-of-touch-with-the-common-man stereotype.

          Three observations:
          1. Just like you found more birds of a feather going from high school to college (sampling outside a narrow geography), you may find more birds of a feather - meaning "in touch" - where you're out from under your studies (same reason).

          2. Who is this "common man" of which you speak, really?

          3. The "common man" I've seen is buttoned down, inhibited, doesn't dance, doesn't like gays (as if its business who other people sleep with), dresses the way the advertisers tell him to... &c, &c

          • by hobbit (5915)

            The common man I'm speaking of does indeed fit most of those stereotypes. (Of course I would only ever recognize stereotypes; never perpetuate them ;] I would expect more intelligence of PhD students, so I wouldn't expect them to be as homophobic.) I have met many (hundreds of) PhD students too, and no two are ever exactly alike. Yet insofar as that stereotypes are meaningful, the (even out-from-under-the-grind) antisocial bookworm stereotype is somewhat better fitted by the PhD student than the common man.

      • Bravo. A truly beautiful post on /. Seriously, it was very nice. :)
      • If you think you're an artist, then I know some REAL artists who would laugh at you. I bet you don't know even a single person who lives in a loft. But you just keep telling yourself you're special, OK?
        • by earlymon (1116185)

          If you think you're an artist, then I know some REAL artists who would laugh at you.

          I think I'm an engineer and that my wife is a rather famous artist.

          I bet you don't know even a single person who lives in a loft.

          Please show this to your REAL artist friends and explain to them why you believe that the structure a person lives in does or does not make them an artist.

          But you just keep telling yourself you're special, OK?

          How about you just keep telling yourself that you're a flaming asshole, with no reading comprehension skills, and a sad and pathetic inferiority complex and leave it at that - OK?

          • Haha, burns, doesn't it? "Famous artist" does not mean scrapbooking, or collecting bottlecaps, or any of that other crap that you people do. How many parties have you been to recently? And I mean real parties, not a hot dog BBQ or hog's feet cookout. It's not the structure that people live in, it's the culture. Artists (real ones) cluster together in order to enjoy each other's company...let's just say that you might feel uncomfortable in such a space. There's nothing wrong with that, either...the wor
    • and Physical activity is an excellent way to stimulate persons creativity, not to mention the benefits of increased blood flow to the brain, burning off stress, et cetera.

      Our brains are tied to our bodies; science needs creativity.
    • by gstoddart (321705)

      I find it interesting that science based Phd students are able to be this creative

      Oh, I don't know.

      The graduate students I've known over the years have had a large representation of musicians, athletes, and generally some pretty interesting and wacky people.

      By the time you've toughed it out to be working on a PhD you probably have several outside interests you're involved in and are generally a pretty motivated, hard working sort of person.

      Stereotypes aside, at that level if you didn't have some grounding i

    • find it interesting that science based Phd students are able to be this creative - they are dealing with very intangible things, and correlating them to a form of communication that they are traditionally not known to be able to identify with.

      Creativity is an essential part of being a scientist (in most cases). There are at least 3 places it's essential. You often have to be creative with your methods, coming up with new ways to test your hypotheses, and you usually have to be creative when coming up with hypotheses in the first place. The third need, and probably most related here, is that we do have to talk to people who have very little background in our fields. When describing these highly abstract phenomena to people, it can be helpful

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by jc42 (318812)

      I find it interesting that science based Phd students are able to be this creative - they are dealing with very intangible things, and correlating them to a form of communication that they are traditionally not known to be able to identify with.

      In my experience, the association of the "hard" sciences and math with music and dance is well known, and qualifies as a stereotype. Since my college years as a math and CS student, I've been involved in music and dance, both classical and various "folk" varieties.

    • Who says they aren't just bullshitting the entire thing.
  • Prior Art! (Score:3, Informative)

    by Colonel Sponsz (768423) on Friday November 28, 2008 @12:55PM (#25916825)

    This reminds me of the old Protein Synthesis Dance [youtube.com].

    "All mimsy was mRNA, and Protein chain outgrabe..."

  • My Dance (Score:3, Interesting)

    by DynaSoar (714234) on Friday November 28, 2008 @01:07PM (#25916933) Journal

    It would have been simply an inter-tribal pow wow dance, but I would have been laughing and yelling "We told you so! For 500 years we told you it was medicinal! Are you going to listen now?"

    Unfortunately I didn't make the deadline. On the other hand, none of those on YouTube had their work on the Big Screen: "Why, they just found that smoking can offset Parkinson's disease." -- 'Thank You For Smoking'

  • He has the hottest girl.

  • by popmaker (570147) on Friday November 28, 2008 @01:38PM (#25917121)
    Luckily for eveyone they didn't mention the poor mathematician who tried to reproduce the Banach-Tarski paradox on stage and disintegrated, while "Just the two of us" was playing in the background.
  • The dance after my PhD odyssey would have been a drunken stumble to the tune of "The Road Goes On Forever". And I would have had to use a walker.
  • ARG! (Score:4, Funny)

    by db32 (862117) on Friday November 28, 2008 @01:54PM (#25917231) Journal
    Look at what those Liberal Arts bastards are doing to Science! Shoo Shoo! Out of the lab, all of you, stop sniffing those chemicals, put that down! If one more of you even suggests that gravity is just the man keeping us down I will kill each and every one of you!
  • You and I, mr headline writer, obviously have a very different definition of 'groove'.

  • This is one of the few times that not clicking though to the article is probably the best course of action.
  • ...the humanity.

    rj

  • Having had a couple years of getting my ass kicked in karate and kung fu classes, I've always wondered how some of the more ritualized exercises came to be. There are katas that seem completely bizarre and that would leave oneself open to injury both from the opponent and from the physical contortions required to perform them. But maybe some ancient master realized that the easiest way to remember certain moves was to attach it to a mnemonic.

    It is quite effective to use physical and mental cues to recall a

    • by popmaker (570147)
      I highly doubt that actually learning dance moves with the subject would improve it, but on the other hand I think people automatically do this when demonstrating something with the use of their hands. Just the other day I was demonstrating a convergent sequence to some of my class mates, and they all started laughing when I got carried away and started "dragging" the sequence along with my hands and pointing at the air. :-p

      I think there even have been some experiments showing that people have better me
    • by S3D (745318)

      But maybe some ancient master realized that the easiest way to remember certain moves was to attach it to a mnemonic.

      Really old Chinese kung-fu forms have songs associated with them. So they probably were mnemonic devices.

  • Of course the quantum theorists argued they're dancing would have been much better if no-one had been looking at the time
  • While the vitamin D biosynthesis dance was quite interesting, nothing beats the classic 1971 interpretive dance for protein biosynthesis, "A Protein Primer", narrated by a poem inspired by Jabberwocky and performed to live beatnick music. Truly a classic. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u9dhO0iCLww [youtube.com]
  • Vit D dance made my day. LiCata's efforts were commendable as well.

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