Fermi National Laboratory

Volume 24  |  Friday, March 2, 2001  |  Number 4
In This Issue  |  FermiNews Main Page

Video Streaming

Want to find out what the universe is made of? Learn about the very first moments of its history? Or see how a particle detector works?

The answers are here, presented in laymen's terms by some of the most knowledgeable scientists in the business. Fermilab's Visual Media Services website has over 150 free video clips on particle physics, as well as other branches of science, available in streaming video format. And more are on the way all the time: Many Fermilab presentations are first broadcast live over the Internet, then archived for later download as well. In the game of physics research, this is like having a front-row seat.

And the seating isn't just for spectators. Although about half of the presentations are for nonscientists, the other half are technical lectures aimed at the specialist. Video streaming technology has made it possible for scientists around the world to listen to presentations by their Fermilab colleagues. One of the most popular series has been the Line Drive lectures, begun in mid-January.

"The feedback we have received from all over the world has been positive," said Fred Ullrich, manager of Visual Media Services and one of the principal developers of the web video collection. "They regularly set up viewing rooms at SLAC where they watch the meetings live, and people in Europe are saying they tune in on a regular basis."

Jim Shultz, another of the principal developers, hopes the public will respond with equal enthusiasm.

"The `Physics for Everyone' series has the most to do with what goes on at the lab," Shultz said. "But the `Nature of Science Symposium' would be of interest to any fan of science, not just of particle physics. There's one talk on cosmology, another on paleontology. We even have a Jesuit priest, a former Fermilab physicist, speaking on the relationship of science and religion."

Whatever your background or interest level, the videos are easily accessible. "All you need is a computer with a 56k modem," Shultz said. "The streaming videos require RealPlayer 7.0, and you can download it free from the RealPlayer websiteˇyou can get there from a link on our own webpage."

Once you have RealPlayer, you can sample from any of these videos. All can be found under "Streaming Video" at the Visual Media Services website (see box next page). Most presentations have links at the bottom of the Streaming Video page, but look for the Video News series as well, found in the gold menu at the top.

"We have been doing Video News for a long time," said Ullrich. "We used to put four to six stories each on a video cassette and show them from a kiosk in the atrium. We needed a better way to distribute them. Now we have the most recent sixty-five stories available on streaming video."

Ullrich would like to add the rest of the collection as time and money become available.

"There are over eighty editions in the Video News collection dating back to the early 1980s," he said. "We have the history of Fermilab all on tape, spoken by the people who made it. We want to make this history accessible."

Ullrich and Shultz realize that video streaming can provide even more services for the laboratory.

"Our department is the eyes and ears of the lab, and by continuing to improve the infrastructure we can stream more material," Shultz said. "We are configuring the One West conference room with lighting, microphones and a permanent camera to make it easier for us to stream lectures. We are upgrading our server as wellˇup to this point we have been using a borrowed desktop PC. We have had great support from several people in the Computing Division in putting all this together, John Urish in particular."

Ullrich also mentioned lab director Michael Witherell's support for the new technology.

"This is more than a trend," Shultz said. "The beauty of streaming is that you can view a video as it is sent to you, without having to wait for the whole file to download. This is the way information will be shared in the future."

How do I get streaming video?

Your computer needs at least a 56k modem. Go to the VMS website at http://www-visualmedia.fnal.gov and (if necessary) download RealPlayer 7.0 from the RealPlayer website (link provided). RealPlayer is free! It is unnecessary to purchase anything from the RealPlayer website.

Where should I start?

To find a list of ten short videos for the nonscientist, go to http://www-visualmedia.fnal.gov/VMS_Site/gallery/v_selectProg.html The list includes segments on particles, detectors, animation of particle collisions, and the life of Robert Wilson, Fermilab's first director.

Also recommended:

Physics for Everyone: http://www-visualmedia.fnal.gov/VMS_Site/r_P4E.html

The Nature of Science Symposium: http://www-visualmedia.fnal.gov/VMS_Site/r_NOS.html

last modified 3/2/2001 by C. Hebert   email Fermilab