Historical photos and videos at CERN

Here’s a great resource for anyone interested in the history of physics, especially quantum physics and particle physics. At the CERN document server,


you can search for keywords in their large collection of freely accessible photos and videos. Just look into the column where it says “Narrow by collection” and then click on Videos or Photos in the “Multimedia and Outreach” section, before entering your search keyword.

As an example of what you can find there, here’s a beautiful 1985 TV documentary on the Einstein-Podolsky-Rosen paradoxon of fundamental quantum physics, starring interviews with the likes of John Bell (who came up with inequalities to distinguish between Bohr’s and Einstein’s views on the matter) and Alain Aspect (who used these inequalities to decide the question experimentally):


Best history of science & technology TV series ever (“Connections” by James Burke)

Only a few times in each century, in every field of human endeavour,
there will be some work that is so outstanding it defies comparison.

In explaining the history of science and technology to the public, this
kind of singular event is epitomized by the famous “Connections”, a 1978 BBC TV series by the science historian James Burke.

The basic idea of that series is to show how a chain
of inventions throughout the ages is interconnected to
produce some essential aspect of modern-day life. And one
of the main messages, presumably, is that you could never ever
have predicted these sometimes weird connections that led
to the astonishing technological and scientific progress that we
sometimes take for granted.

“Connections” can be found on YouTube in its entirety
(though this is of course not entirely legal, and the
image quality is just the typical YouTube quality, but
never mind).

You can find links to the ten “Connections” episodes at the following
link (if that does not work for you, see below):

Connections playlist on YouTube

Note that each episode lasts about an hour and has been subdivided
into 5 segments for YouTube. By the way, don’t be fooled by the fact that
some modern technology of back then now of course looks less
modern. You can easily replace it in your mind by the most
recent gadgets and the story still works…

Here are links to the other James Burke TV series on YouTube:

Playlists for James Burke series

Enjoy this fantastic series!

Also, if you enjoy the series, read more about James Burke’s latest project, the
“k-web” online knowledge web:


Direct links to “Connections” episodes

Episode 1 — The Trigger Effect
What happens if civilization were to break down? And why
is the plough so important?

Trigger Effect 1/5
Trigger Effect 2/5
Trigger Effect 3/5
Trigger Effect 4/5
Trigger Effect 5/5

Episode 2 — Death in the Morning

Death in the Morning 1/5
Death in the Morning 2/5
Death in the Morning 3/5
Death in the Morning 4/5
Death in the Morning 5/5

Science podcasts

Short online radio shows, called podcasts, are proving more and more popular. By now, there are several science-related ones. The first one I stumbled across was the weekly

Nature podcast

but of course there is also a podcast by the competitor magazine, the

Science podcast

Or try a national-public-radio produced weekly podcast called

Science Friday

In addition, there are ‘independent’ podcasts on science topics. Check out

“This Week in Science”

A general directory of science-related podcasts can be found on

Podcasting News, Science Category

Tell me about any podcasts you might find particularly interesting, so I can highlight them here.


As the physicists among you know, the primary resource for the working physicist today, regarding the most recent developments, is the online


with over 300.000 online articles, free for anyone to read (though most admittedly of very limited use for the general non-expert audience). The reason this blog was created is actually the recent introduction of a “trackback” feature to the arXiv, see

Trackbacks on arXiv

I hope to explore the use of this feature, to attach comments to articles published on arXiv. Let’s see whether it works as simple as announced.

Quantum mechanics in Wikipedia

The free online encyclopedia has quite a few articles dealing with quantum mechanics. As an example, have a look at the description of the hydrogen atom:

Hydrogen atom in Wikipedia

Incidentally, the picture of the orbitals was created by myself, a long time ago. It is amazing to see how much the page has changed since then. With pictures that is no problem (they usually stay intact as a whole), but with content that’s another story. I have mixed feelings about Wikipedia (and currently do not contribute any more), since the content can so easily be degraded by some (potentially well-meaning) incompetent beginner (sorry to be so blunt).

That being said, Wikipedia is still a great resource (if used with care) and an amazing phenomenon!