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

Comments: 4385 • Responses: 48  • Date: 

Dabee6252404 karma

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?

Michael_Stevens2188 karma

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.

Michael_Stevens614 karma

jackfilms is great! And now I want to make a parody video of myself...

Hvny1728 karma

Have you ever had any offers to do any TV work such as documentaries?

Michael_Stevens2587 karma

Yes. Stay tuned ;)

NutSlapper691324 karma

How often to you get recognized by people on the street? Any funny stories?

Michael_Stevens2008 karma

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

FlyLikeATachyon1308 karma

Is CGPGrey as handsome as he is in my dreams?

Michael_Stevens2110 karma

I have seen your dreams and no, he is much more handsome than that.

thewilloftheuniverse819 karma

Reading this in your voice makes it that much more awesome. that huge pause and raised eyebrow after "no".

IAmTheZeke562 karma

Music is cued and the video cuts

MKROBINSON562 karma

BUT WHAT IS ... HANDSOME?

IAmTheZeke1319 karma

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.

Sources 1 & 2

Michael_Stevens528 karma

nice. I especially love the inclusion of sources.

LiftsFrontWheel1297 karma

Hi Michael! First: coffee or tea? Also, did you know that when pronounced, Vsauce sounds like the Finnish word "viisaus", meaning "wisdom"?

Michael_Stevens1633 karma

I knew about the Finnish fact, wish I could say that was intentional :)

As for your first question: coffee. Definitely.

TheDuskDragon1027 karma

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?

Michael_Stevens1088 karma

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.

butthead949 karma

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)

Just thought that'd be interesting to know!

As far as a question goes: What are your favorite subreddit(s)?

Michael_Stevens1259 karma

I was really excited when I saw that -- such an honor!

Some of my favorite subreddits (right now) are:

/r/woahdude/

/r/educationalgifs/

/r/InternetIsBeautiful/

/r/dataisbeautiful/

/r/MorbidReality/

/r/FanTheories/

/r/Showerthoughts/

/r/ObscureMedia/

/r/brokengifs/

EDIT: formatting

boyofatlantis820 karma

Which Nintendo game did you use to make the VSauce title card at the end of your videos?

oOKeiraOo773 karma

What's the strangest question anyone has ever asked you, in relation to science?

Michael_Stevens1957 karma

What's the opposite of a duck?

I hope to tackle that one soon.

alienfrog625 karma

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!

Michael_Stevens1149 karma

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.

Unidan1170 karma

Ah, jeez, you're too nice!

Likewise!

Michael_Stevens1000 karma

let's make it happen.

coreGBA568 karma

Where did the name Vsauce come from?

Michael_Stevens1165 karma

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

Sensei_Emu519 karma

Hey michael, how did you meet jake and kevin and why did you choose them to host vsauce 2 and 3?

Michael_Stevens672 karma

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.

Vebjlin514 karma

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?

Michael_Stevens1319 karma

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.

radioredhead471 karma

How do you get ideas for video topics?

Michael_Stevens632 karma

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.

nathwilson22324 karma

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?

Michael_Stevens412 karma

You should have said hello! I love meeting Vsaucers on the tube :)

adam817299 karma

What's a topic you've always wanted to cover, but can't?

EDIT: Due to controversial or ethical reasons, etc.

Michael_Stevens626 karma

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.

ollygollz267 karma

What was your favourite video to make?

Michael_Stevens445 karma

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?

IamSnuggie259 karma

What question have you not been able to answer, that you have tried?

Michael_Stevens459 karma

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 :)

wille1101254 karma

Hello! How long does your average video take to make?

Michael_Stevens407 karma

It takes about 7-9 days. 7 to research/write/shoot and 1 or 2 to edit.

KaltheHuman216 karma

Do you still have a thing for Anne Hathaway? ;)

Michael_Stevens430 karma

Ummmm.. YES.

Urist_was_taken210 karma

Have you gone to college?

Also, what turns of fate led you to be the famous youtuber you are today?

Michael_Stevens416 karma

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 :)

NutSlapper69198 karma

What's your favorite video game?

Michael_Stevens332 karma

After all this time, it's still Homeworld

DecisiveWhale186 karma

What, in your opinion, is the best Vsauce video ever made?

Michael_Stevens323 karma

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.

MyCoolLewis180 karma

Hey VSauce! MyCool here! What are your favorite non-science pastimes? Music, sports, TV shows, etc. ?

Michael_Stevens218 karma

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...

mbellim3177 karma

Good job. Your first name = my first name, and your last name = my middle name

Michael_Stevens265 karma

Is "David" anywhere in your name? David is my middle name...

fredthefishhh161 karma

Vsauce,

How do we know your videos are real if our eyes aren't real?

Michael_Stevens239 karma

You don't. You just have to believe.

Mr830BedTime151 karma

Hey Michael!

I see you travel a lot between videos, where is your favorite place on earth?

Michael_Stevens262 karma

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.

youtbuddcody117 karma

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?

Michael_Stevens217 karma

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.

NotAPonyStar117 karma

What is your favourite thing about the UK?

Michael_Stevens180 karma

UK fans. As a percentage of its population, the UK has the most Vsaucers.

ArcticSpyder110 karma

Hey Mike.

Michael_Stevens203 karma

Hey.

exteremeruski109 karma

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?

Michael_Stevens22 karma

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 :)

Tessiemessy105 karma

Hi Michael,

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?"

Michael_Stevens107 karma

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.

katey_lynny100 karma

Are you WheezyWaiter's original science clone?

Margatron49 karma

Also on this topic, do you have a favorite Wheezy video?

Michael_Stevens93 karma

his Good Stuff channel is good stuff.

Octopenis99 karma

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!

Michael_Stevens119 karma

Biggest mystery in the universe IMO

SorenxD12399 karma

Are you a bacon or cheese guy?

Michael_Stevens266 karma

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.

imwithn00b97 karma

Hey Michael! Which books have you been reading lately? Any recommendations?

Michael_Stevens151 karma

I'm reading this right now. It's amazing.

chrishimself8479 karma

[deleted]

Michael_Stevens119 karma

We're talking! Stay tuned!

Fbjjf67 karma

What was your favorite subject in school? Does it still interest you?

Michael_Stevens84 karma

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.

Beasts_at_the_Throne61 karma

MICHAEL

MICHAEL

I LOVE YOU

OMG

MICHAEL

Michael_Stevens154 karma

BEASTS_AT_THE_THRONE

BEASTS_AT_THE_THRONE

I LOVE YOU

OMG

BEASTS_AT_THE_THRONE

AwesomeHobo60 karma

[deleted]

Michael_Stevens65 karma

bachelors in Psychology and English Literature from the University of Chicago.

I loved Chicago and the school. Would do it again. And again.

ComfySlipper45 karma

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?

Michael_Stevens99 karma

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:

my most-viewed video ever

I have a goatee in this video!!

This ridiculous edit of found footage

and of course, the Bearded Nun is sure to return...

ZambiaDude32 karma

Michael, What are your top five favorite bands?

TheRPiGuy30 karma

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?

Michael_Stevens45 karma

I LOVE QI. Like, big time. I would accept that offer in a heartbeat.

IncantiaWolf24 karma

They say girls don't fart, what would happen if girls ACTUALLY didn't fart?

PudgyNuggets21 karma

VSauce Fart Science has already been made, believe it or not!

Tl;dw they would have "fart breath"

Michael_Stevens15 karma

That's right. Also, girls totally fart.

roofis123020 karma

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.

Michael_Stevens38 karma

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