I am Michael Stevens of Vsauce on YouTube, AMA!
Hello redditors! My name is Michael Stevens and I am behind the YouTube channel Vsauce. I love science and art and history and language and math and philosophy and making video and things. Ask me anything!
EDIT: PROOF: https://twitter.com/tweetsauce/status/458302210989101056
EDIT: Thank you all so much for taking the time to ask me questions! You guys are why I do this. Stay curious, know that you can always ask me anything on twitter, and as always, thanks for watching.
EDIT / UPDATE: I've released a video in which I cover my favorite questions from this AMA (and some other stuff, too) on the reddit YouTube channel. WATCH IT HERE: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5hClQ-OER3Y
More importantly: would the planet Saturn float if you placed it in a giant swimming pool?
Not really. Saturn and the pool of water would be attracted to each other by their enormous gravitational-pulls and nothing would do anything one would call "floating."
Also: I write an entire script for every episode, but I don't speak it word for word when I record. I just rehearse a paragraph or so at a time and then say it as I would say it to a friend. There's no teleprompter or anything.
jackfilms is great! And now I want to make a parody video of myself...
Have you ever had any offers to do any TV work such as documentaries?
Yes. Stay tuned ;)
How often to you get recognized by people on the street? Any funny stories?
It's amazing whenever someone recognizes me. It's a chance to see Vsauce viewers IN THE FLESH.
I always take a photo or chat with them for as long as I can.
The funniest stories involve people not approaching me at the time, but tweeting about it later. About an hour after I left a restaurant a few weeks ago a guy I hadn't talked to tweeted at me and asked how I liked what I'd ordered...
It wasn't creepy, though. It was awesome.
EDIT: a misplaced word
Is CGPGrey as handsome as he is in my dreams?
I have seen your dreams and no, he is much more handsome than that.
Reading this in your voice makes it that much more awesome. that huge pause and raised eyebrow after "no".
Music is cued and the video cuts
BUT WHAT IS ... HANDSOME?
Well, to answer that, we'll need to look at where HANDSOME... COMES from. In old English it's root was handa, but was later changed to handen, and eventually it became... eyebrow raises hands. When handsome originally appeared sometime around 1350-1400, the original idea was a handsome person was easy to handle, ready at hand... easy to hold. It wasn't until the end of the 16th century that handsome grew into it's modern definition of "Having a fine form or... good-looking. Handsome, meaning "generous" (a handsome reward) wasn't commonly used for another century.
Video cuts to a shot of Mars
We often look at our universe as so far away. And maybe it'll stay that way if we don't work hard to explore, to find meaning... to understand why we're here. Lao Tzu once wrote that "The reason why the universe is eternal is that it does not live for itself; it gives life to others as it transforms".
Video cuts back to Michael at his brain bookshelf
Our identity as a species - and our every purpose for living is out there, but it's not Handsome - it's not "easy to handle" or "ready at hand". But... maybe... if we can just push into our universe and learn a little more, we may find a... Handsome Reward. And as always, thanks for watching.
nice. I especially love the inclusion of sources.
Hi Michael! First: coffee or tea? Also, did you know that when pronounced, Vsauce sounds like the Finnish word "viisaus", meaning "wisdom"?
I knew about the Finnish fact, wish I could say that was intentional :)
As for your first question: coffee. Definitely.
Hey Michael, TheDuskDragon here.
In your videos, you tend to pop up into frame from the bottom of the screen for transitional purposes. How much stronger are your legs as a result of you having to squat out of frame beforehand? Also, what are other notable things that you have to do in preparation for your videos that we should know?
If I have to do lots of pop up intros in a video I wind up being sore the next day (I mean, just a little sore, I'm not like, THAT out of shape).
That said, if I have to re-do a pop up intro a bunch of times in a row ... I sometimes have to stop and catch my breath >.<
Also, I had to switch to energy drinks right before shooting (if necessary) instead of coffee because coffee made my tongue brown and it looked gross in the videos.
A Vsauce video won a Best of Reddit 2013 award in /r/WoahDude for "Bad Vibes" (trippy posts that are disturbing, creepy, or scary, and may give some people a bad trip)
- Experience what it would actually be like if a nuclear attack against the US were imminent. Turn your sound up. (skips to 5:20)
Just thought that'd be interesting to know!
As far as a question goes: What are your favorite subreddit(s)?
I was really excited when I saw that -- such an honor!
Some of my favorite subreddits (right now) are:
Which Nintendo game did you use to make the VSauce title card at the end of your videos?
What's the strangest question anyone has ever asked you, in relation to science?
What's the opposite of a duck?
I hope to tackle that one soon.
Hey Vsauce! alienfrog here, and I was wondering:
is there anyone you haven't collaborated with that you really want to, er, collaborate with? And is it /u/Unidan?
are frogs the best?
would you ever accept an offer to have your own TV show?
what's your favourite colour?
what's something we should know about Kevin and Jake from Vsauce2 and Vsauce3 that we probably don't?
Thanks for doing this AMA, your channel is my favourite on YouTube and I always save treats to eat for when your vids come out. Have a good day!
I would LOVE to work with /u/Unidan
I'm a huge fan.
I also dream of working with Nathan Barnatt, the people from this channel, and THIS GUY to name A FEW.
EDIT: you asked other questions:
frogs are either the best or at the least, top 5 material.
TV for sure. Stay tuned for updates.
My favourite color is yellow.
Kevin owns a painting I gave him of a guy sticking a fork in a toaster and Jake owns a signing Justin Bieber toothbrush I gave him.
Ah, jeez, you're too nice!
let's make it happen.
Where did the name Vsauce come from?
I wanted a name with a .com domain I could buy that also meant NOTHING so it would always fit whatever kind of videos I wanted to make. I refreshed FakeNameGenerator until I saw Vsauce.com listed under "website" and I knew it was true love <3
Hey michael, how did you meet jake and kevin and why did you choose them to host vsauce 2 and 3?
I met Kevin because I loved his personal channel. I asked him if he wanted to help make episodes for Vsauce and he immediately got what made a video 'Vsaucey.' He's incredibly innovative and creative -- I wish I could pump out awesome new show ideas at the rate he does.
I met Jake in NYC. He was brilliant with a camera and with editing effects. His videos are informative and about a googol times more beautiful than mine. At first, he helped me edit episodes of DONG but it became clear right away that he could take on a Vsauce all to himself. Thanks to his knowledge, Vsauce now has Vsauce3 where we can approach 'fictional' topics in a 'Vsaucey' way.
Hey, Michael! Big fan here!
What is one fact of the universe that never ceases to amaze you, no matter how often you learn, talk, or teach about it?
The fact that about HALF of all humans who have ever lived died from malaria.
Also, there are about 93 billion human skeletons underneath you.
How do you get ideas for video topics?
Ideas usually come from weird facts or perspectives I read about and then REALLY want to share.
I explore related topics until a general 'question' emerges. Sometimes a clear title/question never does, but I make the video anyway. Of course, some topics come straight from twitter or friends or YouTube comments.
I once saw you on the Northern Line travelling through Tottenham Court Road, I was going to shout "Thanks for watching" through the carriage but refrained.
Do you get stopped by people in the street?
You should have said hello! I love meeting Vsaucers on the tube :)
What's a topic you've always wanted to cover, but can't?
EDIT: Due to controversial or ethical reasons, etc.
Not possible. I'll cover anything.
There's nothing too weird. And I'd never avoid something that was controversial. Even the more reason to talk about it.
Everything, even 'empty' questions like "how much does Thursday weigh?" are fertile ground for discovery. Though... not answers.
What was your favourite video to make?
It's a tie between linking two great trips for If and getting to work with a brilliant artist to visualize something crazy for What if the Moon was a Disco Ball?
What question have you not been able to answer, that you have tried?
The question I'm currently working on is the most difficult so far. But also the most full of amazing stuff. I don't want to spoil it ... after this I need to go back to researching. I've had to enlist the help of other science/math/education YouTubers to figure it all out :)
Hello! How long does your average video take to make?
It takes about 7-9 days. 7 to research/write/shoot and 1 or 2 to edit.
Do you still have a thing for Anne Hathaway? ;)
Have you gone to college?
Also, what turns of fate led you to be the famous youtuber you are today?
I graduated from The University of Chicago. I received bachelor degrees in neuropsychology and English literature
I also did a lot of theater (acting and directing) there. The people I worked with in the theater department at UofC were incredible. The most brilliant and creative people I've ever met.
After I saw this video I realized that internet video had the potential to do really cool, powerful, 'disruptive' things and reach a lot of people. So I jumped in and made some of my own. The first things I made were assembled from found footage. They helped me learn how to edit and practice the kind of timing needed for an internet video to work.
My edits got noticed by Ben Relles from Barely Political and he gave me the opportunity to move to NYC and work for Barely Political. The team there taught me everything I know about YouTube and making videos.
I eventually started Vsauce and now I'm here doing an AMA :)
What's your favorite video game?
After all this time, it's still Homeworld
What, in your opinion, is the best Vsauce video ever made?
I'm partial to What Is The Greatest Honor?
But I also love this older one because you can see my dad blowing stuff up in the beginning.
Hey VSauce! MyCool here! What are your favorite non-science pastimes? Music, sports, TV shows, etc. ?
It's hard to say because even things I do to 'waste time' tend to make their way into videos...
I like strange comedy shows like Strangers With Candy and comedians like Stella
I also LOVE sharing bizarre videos with friends -- especially videos with fewer than a few hundred views. Myself and Kevin (Vsauce2) and Jake (Vsauce3) and Jake (who does the Vsauce music) have been doing this via email for a few years now and I think we're up to 300+ crazy videos. Maybe one day we'll share the spoils of our hunt...
Good job. Your first name = my first name, and your last name = my middle name
Is "David" anywhere in your name? David is my middle name...
How do we know your videos are real if our eyes aren't real?
You don't. You just have to believe.
I see you travel a lot between videos, where is your favorite place on earth?
Stilwell, Kansas is my favorite place.
Moscow was my favorite to visit. The Cosmonaut museum was incredible. They've got Belka and Strelka, the first two dogs to go to space and come back alive, stuffed and in cases there.
What is your favourite thing about the UK?
UK fans. As a percentage of its population, the UK has the most Vsaucers.
Hello Micheal! Thanks for doing this iama! I'm a fan of Vsauce and I've always wondered, why do you live in England? I thought you were from American originally so I was just curious. Also, is Vsauce2 and Vsauce3 filmed in the states? How often do you come back to work on those shows?
Kevin does Vsauce2 from LA
Jake does Vsauce3 from NYC
and I do Vsauce1 from London. I go back and forth from the UK to the US a lot but holy cow. I've learned SO MUCH by living abroad. It was one of the greatest decisions I ever made. For example: before I moved to the UK I used imperial units for almost everything and it wasn't as easy to travel to other countries. ALSO: the UK has some great educational channels. I'm really thankful to their help. CGPGrey, of course, as well as everything Brady Haran does.
How many hours of research does it take to make an average video? It looks like it takes endless research to me. Also how do you research your facts?
About 5-6 days go into researching and writing and shooting. 1-2 days go to editing. During about 2 of those writing days I don't do anything but work from when I wake up to when I go to bed. It's fun and it's what I'd be doing anyway if there was no Vsauce or YouTube :)
I'm from Australia, I've stayed up in hope that you'd answer my friends question as he has admired your work for years and is a great supporter of yours. It's 5:30am here now and I'd love to surprise him with a reply. It would mean the world to him :)
"Individual senses make mistakes. Our sense of touch tells us our sight was wrong for not seeing the spider web. The brain is assumed to have developed after the senses. Could the brain just be a 'sense' that 'sees' the other senses' contradictions? In other words, could the brain be purely for questioning - questioning the contradictions of the senses? Further, could the image of conciousness be purely an illusion to reconcile these contradictions?"
First of all, thanks for watching and staying up so late!!
It could be. We also have good evidence that the brain's primary reason for 'winning' against selective pressures was the need to MOVE. There are creatures still around today that digest their own brains once they no longer need to move -- even though they can still 'sense' things like movement.
So maybe the brain emerged for simple reasons and then was like, "whoa, should I deal with this stuff too???" and brains that did it well enough helped the organism reproduce better/faster/more-healthily and became the norm.
Are you WheezyWaiter's original science clone?
Also on this topic, do you have a favorite Wheezy video?
his Good Stuff channel is good stuff.
Are you a bacon or cheese guy?
Cheese. I have no problem with bacon, mind you, and will admit that bacon+cheese is a whole greater than its parts. However, I will choose sausage+cheese over bacon+cheese any day of the week.
Michael I'm a little confused about Vsauce and I hope you can clear some of that confusion. At the start of the video you say "Hey Vsauce, Michael here." But I'm not Vsauce, I'm /u/octopenis. You're Vsauce - or are you Michael?
The question is, who is Vsauce? Because it's definitely not me!
Biggest mystery in the universe IMO
Hey Michael! Which books have you been reading lately? Any recommendations?
I'm reading this right now. It's amazing.
We're talking! Stay tuned!
What was your favorite subject in school? Does it still interest you?
Psychology. My teacher was amazing. To this day I'm remembering things from his class and sharing them via Vsauce. In a way, almost every famous study in psychology was really just a super clever prank. Learning about how we study human behavior and cognition got me addicted to the topic.
I LOVE YOU
I LOVE YOU
bachelors in Psychology and English Literature from the University of Chicago.
I loved Chicago and the school. Would do it again. And again.
Hey Michael. I found Vsauce through Barely Political, how did you get involved with them? How did getting involved with other youtubers shape your own youtube career?
Also will the Bearded Nun ever reappear?
My first YouTube channel was discovered by Ben Relles who asked me to come out to NYC to work with Barely Political.
I made some stuff there a lot of Vsauce fans don't know about. For instance:
I have a goatee in this video!!
This ridiculous edit of found footage
and of course, the Bearded Nun is sure to return...
Michael, What are your top five favorite bands?
Whenever I watch one of your videos, I can't help but think that this what an extended, fully answered question from the BBC show QI would look like.
Are you a fan of QI and would you consider appearing on it if you were offered?
I LOVE QI. Like, big time. I would accept that offer in a heartbeat.
They say girls don't fart, what would happen if girls ACTUALLY didn't fart?
VSauce Fart Science has already been made, believe it or not!
Tl;dw they would have "fart breath"
That's right. Also, girls totally fart.
How did you shoot the NES cartridge closing title? It seems like it must have been really complicated to set up. Bonus question, who's hand it it?
Edit: A word.
It was a real cartridge with a Vsauce logo glued on it. I scanned the cartridge and printed a paper version that I switched at the last second. That switch was smoothed over in the edit. I also added in the dripping sauce later by doing a totally amateur job of editing :)
The hand belongs to Grace Randolph
Hi Michael! Thanks for doing this AMA... but what exactly IS an AMA, and would it float in water? Floatation. Does floatation think, and could it make science videos? Science videos... are yours 100% scripted or do you sometimes brainstorm questions as you go like in this comment I'm posting?
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