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News Release

October 10, 2008


Mark Walker, Hopkins Marine Station: (831) 655-6210,

Stanford researchers launch new Short Attention Span Science Theater website

Researchers at Stanford University have launched Short Attention Span Science Theater—an interactive website featuring short video segments, called "microdocs," that are designed to make science understandable.

"Microdocs are written by leading scientists and filmed on location across the world," said website co-creator Stephen Palumbi, a Stanford marine biologist. "Each video is 2 to 4 minutes long and delivers science one idea at a time. The style is direct and accessible, not loaded with technical language."

The new website design allows the viewer to control the information flow, he added. "Instead of a 90-minute film, we provide more than 30 microdocs in an Internet notebook that lets the user control the topics and their order," said Palumbi, who holds the Harold A. Miller Professorship for the Director of Hopkins Marine Station and a senior fellowship at the Woods Institute for the Environment at Stanford. "The microdocs are free and can be viewed from any Internet connection in the world. We also include information pages and reference material for more in-depth exploration."

The first Short Attention Span Science notebook demystifies ecological sustainability—the basis for the green movement around the world, he said: "What is sustainability? What promotes it? What threatens it? What are the tipping points that push an ecosystem into ruin or keep it functioning forever? The ecological sustainability notebook shows the elements of sustainability and explains how they apply to one of the most important and beautiful ecosystems on earth—coral reefs."

Palumbi serves as narrator and on-camera host of many of the microdocs, which were shot at research sites in Fiji, Samoa, the Caribbean, Micronesia and other coral reefs. "Navigating around the site is like a fast trip to the coral reefs of the world, with you in control of the journey," he said. "We present the problems facing reefs, and how they can recover and grow. We show the kinds of reefs, the species that live on them and efforts by local people all over the world to preserve them."

The videos were shot and edited by website co-creator Daniel Griffin of Garthwait & Griffin Films in Menlo Park, Calif. "Microdocs and Short Attention Span Science video notebooks are new ways to look at science and bring information, beauty and amazement into people's homes," Griffin said. "The ecological sustainability notebook is just the beginning."

For more information, visit



Stephen Palumbi, Hopkins Marine Station: (831) 655-6214,

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