Often the best way to behold the magic of science is to see it in motion. Here’s our picks for the best science videos of 2013:
1) Paint on a speaker: The Slow Mo Guys, a pair of industrious young filmmakers, poured different colors of paint on a speaker and pumped up the jams. As the good folks at F--- Yeah Fluid Dynamics explain, the patterns propagating through the paint are the product of variation of densities and properties among the colors of paint.
2) Bohemian Gravity: Maybe you’ve heard of string theory before, but don’t quite know what it means -- maybe that’s because it has never been explained to you in the form of an a capella Queen cover.
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3) DIY Christmas Lights: If you find yourself shorthanded on lights for your tree, Popular Science shows how you can whip up some bright holiday cheer with lemon juice, pennies, cardboard and an LED light or two!
4) Methane lakes on Titan: The Jet Propulsion movie assembled this flyover view of the largest lakes and seas of Saturn’s moon Titan using radar data from the Cassini spacecraft. But you wouldn’t want to take a dip in these oceans; instead of water, they’re filled with liquid methane and ethane.
5) Your Microbial Hitchhikers: This fun animated film from NPR explores the vast ecosystem of bacteria, viruses and other little critters that inhabit our bodies:
6) The Pitch Drop Falls: This video capturing a bit of black goo dropping into a jar might seem pretty mundane, but consider the fact that it’s been falling for years. Pitch seems fairly solid, but is actually flowing slowly. This particular experiment has been going on at Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland, for almost 70 years; this is the first time a drop has been caught on camera.
7) Rocket Man Sings ‘Space Oddity’: In this much-beloved clip worth a revisit, Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield sings a cover of David Bowie’s trippy hit aboard the International Space Station:
8) Cracking the da Vinci (Music) Code: When he wasn’t painting enigmatic Italian ladies, Leonardo da Vinci was inventing things. Some of his inventions were built during his life, but a lot them -- including a rudimentary helicopter -- have only been brought to life in the modern era. The most recent of these is the "viola organista," a kind of combination harpsichord and cello. A Polish pianist managed to bring the instrument from da Vinci’s sketches into the real world, and played it for a Krakow crowd earlier in December:
9) Death Comes For The Monitor Lizard: This one is either morbidly fascinating or absolutely disgusting, depending on your temperament: a time-lapse video of a dead monitor lizard decaying.
10) Six-Second Science: General Electric compiled this collection of six-second science videos that people documented with the Vine app:
11) A Year On Mars In Two Minutes: JPL condensed video taken by NASA’s Curiosity over 12 months on the Red Planet and made this rover’s-eye view time-lapse video:
12) Flying Bike: This one’s pretty self-explanatory.
13) This video was actually filmed in 1993, but came to our attention this December via Slate writer Phil Plait. It shows a massive collapse of rock and earth in Malaysia, near an abandoned tin mine, followed by the rush of the ocean as it pours in to form a new cove. It’s an astonishing event right out of an apocalyptic action movie: