Bill Gates is one of the people whom you would invariably expect to find science fun and interesting. But Gates also believes that with the necessary catalysts so can a lot more students – students destined to become the technology innovators of tomorrow, if only they were nudged in the right direction early on. This is what Project Tuva is all about, making sure that the right nudge is in place. Available free of charge thanks to Microsoft Research and Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates, Project Tuva is a Silverlight-based website designed to share with the general public an acclaimed lecture series held by physicist Richard Feynman from Cornell University in 1964.
“No one was more adept at making science fun and interesting than Richard Feynman,” Gates explained. “More than 20 years after first seeing them, these are still some of the best science lectures I’ve heard. Feynman worked hard during his life to popularize science, so I’m sure he’d be thrilled that now anyone, anywhere in the world, can just click a button and experience his lectures.”
In fact it took Gates more than 20 years to bring Tuva to life, since the initial thought that the lectures could help influence a lot more people. The Microsoft co-founder owns the rights to the seven lectures in the series, labeled “The Character of Physical Law,” which have been made available via the website hosted by Microsoft Research. Gates indicated that the purpose of Project Tuva was to get kids excited about physics and science. The name of the project was inspired by the Russian republic of Tuva, a personal and lifelong fascination of Feynman.
By visiting Project Tuva, users will also notice that the content is delivered through an enhanced Silverlight video player. It was Curtis Wong, a principal researcher with Microsoft Research, who took the viewing experience to the next level by allowing users to perform a variety of tasks such as search lectures for particular but also take notes and synchronize them with the video stream (video annotation) and interact with hyperlinks to related web content.
“There is a lot of public interest in building innovative educational resources online,” Wong added. “This is an opportunity to take some existing educational content and utilize software and the wealth of resources available on the Web to create a richer learning experience. And because people can annotate the lectures with their own comments and links to related resources, I expect this experience to become richer and richer over time.”