Science Looked Good In 2012 Catfish eating pigeons, water travelling uphill, a blue whale barrel roll — where can one see such things? The scientific journals! Flora Lichtman and Ira Flatow look back on the year's best moments in science cinema. What was your favorite science video of the year?

Science Looked Good In 2012

Science Looked Good In 2012

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Catfish eating pigeons, water travelling uphill, a blue whale barrel roll — where can one see such things? The scientific journals! Flora Lichtman and Ira Flatow look back on the year's best moments in science cinema. What was your favorite science video of the year?


And now joining us is Flora Lichtman. Hi, Flora.


FLATOW: Multimedia editor with our Video Pick of the Week, and it's topical, of course.

LICHTMAN: Well, I was jealous. You guys are going to a year-in-review. I want to do a little year-in-review. The interesting thing about the Video Year in Review is that the stories are - they're like the hidden gems of science news because what makes a good - an interesting thing to watch isn't necessarily the biggest science story of the year. So, for example, I thought some of the most amazing footage that came out of the journals, no less, was - were these European catfish that beached themselves on the riverbank and eat pigeons.

FLATOW: So if you missed that one, now is your chance...

MARIETTE DICHRISTINA: I'll take it over mall cats anytime.


DICHRISTINA: Catfish better than mall cats anytime.

FLATOW: Poor cat. Exactly. Depends on the (unintelligible). Search for the word cat.

LICHTMAN: So there were other countless, you know, good animal tales. There was also the thing about how cucumber tendrils curl.

FLATOW: Beautiful video.

LICHTMAN: That was beautiful.

FLATOW: Gorgeous video.

LICHTMAN: How about the spinning egg? The...

FLATOW: Ah, my favorite.

LICHTMAN: ..and this is your favorite: the engineers let spun an egg in milk and looked at it with a high-speed video and they noticed that the milk climbs up the side of the egg and spins off. And they tried to understand, you know, physically what was going on there. Beautiful video. Also again, you may not see it on the front of the science times, but fascinating.

FLATOW: Yeah. And it's our video - and how many did you put together? You put together - how many are in that video?


FLATOW: Many, many.

LICHTMAN: Many, many.

FLATOW: Many, many, many. At least, a dozen or more. Two dozen...

LICHTMAN: Certainly. Yes.

FLATOW: the videos. Our Video Pick of the Week up on our website at and Flora took her favorites of the year. You enhanced them a little bit, put some - you have a little bit of a what? How did you narrate these?


LICHTMAN: You're betraying my nerdiness.


LICHTMAN: It's rhyming. I don't want to say poem. I think that's - that would be far too generous. But it is a lot of near rhymes. You know, it's funny. I - when I think I hit my pinnacle of nerdiness, I just dig a little deeper and I find that I can just...

FLATOW: You could...

LICHTMAN: ...there are untapped wells in me.

FLATOW: Because you'd turned into a Benji(ph) instead of a nerd and...

LICHTMAN: Maybe that's - maybe I'm actually trying transcendence...

FLATOW: It's the Benji dog. Benji.

LICHTMAN: ...into the Benji world.

FLATOW: That's right. That's right.

LICHTMAN: There are really some great moments. I also feel like Baumgartner when he jumped - we didn't talk about that.

DICHRISTINA: That was an amazing video.

LICHTMAN: But that was just incredible to watch. And someone tweeted us earlier that, you know, they watched live over their cellphone. And even as a 28-year-old, the technology seeing that feed live into your phone wherever you are, walking down the street, was a very 2012 moment.

IVAN ORANSKY: On your phone that probably had more capability than whatever Neil Armstrong, rest in peace now, had in 1969 on it.

LICHTMAN: Yeah, definitely.

FLATOW: Right. Right. And...

DICHRISTINA: And traveling more than Mach 1, you know? Mach 1.4 or something. That is extraordinary and then capturing it the whole way. It was really something.

FLATOW: And we also had all those shuttles that were flying over all those cities, right?

LICHTMAN: Oh, yeah. That was an interesting thing. The visuals of seeing the shuttles very close to Earth, flying over Hollywood, flying over New York. We had people send us those pictures and they're on our website and they're in this video montage as well.

FLATOW: When I heard about the shuttles finding new homes, I said, why don't they keep one flying? They can move it as an exhibit around the country, keep it on the back of that 747. Why do you have to go five cities or whatever? Have one still mobile and you could fly it around the exhibit (unintelligible).


FLATOW: I don't know.

ORANSKY: I live a block from the Intrepid. So I'm glad there's one over there.


FLATOW: It's cheap for me to say that because I'm not paying the bill. But, you know, I think a flying exhibit like that would be great.

DICHRISTINA: On the other hand, you know, great opportunity for a tour around the U.S.

FLATOW: There you go.

LICHTMAN: Seeing a shuttle there, did anyone - does anyone remember this story of the teenager who sent a LEGO shuttle to space, also produced some really beautiful video and was Internet driven and funded, speaking of crowd sourcing and the power of Twitter.

DICHRISTINA: Anything we can't do with LEGOs, I mean.

LICHTMAN: If you're a teenager, sort of, I think, there's maybe nothing.

FLATOW: It was amazing video. You did that when it came out. It's also on this week as part of the montage. It was this teenager who floated. You could see the horizon. You see the Earth. It's a LEGO in space. It's amazing.

LICHTMAN: Let us in. I want to know what we missed, you know, because this is my - what I spent most of my time doing. Leave us a comment. Tell us what your top picks for science video was this year.

FLATOW: There you go and what you might like to see. It's our Video Pick of the Week up on website. It's and also you can download, of course, on your mobile app if you want to take along with you. Thank you, Flora.

LICHTMAN: Thank you, Ira.

FLATOW: Flora Lichtman, our video editor, our multimedia editor. We've run out of time. Boy, that went by fast. Hope the New Year doesn't go by that fast. Thank you for taking time to join us today. Mariette DiChristina, editor-in-chief of Scientific American and senior vice president there, Ivan Oransky, executive editor at Reuters Health. He's also co-founder of the Retraction Watch blog. Mark Frauenfelder, co-founder of Boing Boing and editor-in-chief of MAKE magazine. Happy New Year to you all.

ORANSKY: Happy New Year.


FLATOW: Hope to see you next year.

DICHRISTINA: Thanks so much.

FLATOW: Thanks again.

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