Cool Answers to Burning Questions
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE
Because who doesn’t want to know the science behind orgasms or what would happen if you stopped sleeping?
In 2012, Mitchell Moffit and Gregory Brown were a couple of University of Guelph biology students whose favorite pastime was geeking out on their science classes with their theater-major buddies. So they decided to launch AsapSCIENCE, a YouTube channel dedicated to answering life’s burning questions, like what if you stopped sleeping? What’s the science behind orgasms? And, of course, the age-old riddle: Which came first, the chicken or the egg?
“We thought, ‘Let’s just throw something on the Internet and see what happens,’” Moffit said. Their first video was about how to see and hear the Big Bang and it attracted fewer than 100 views. But the numbers kept growing — fast forward a year and a half, and what began as a digital experiment now boasts almost 2 million subscribers. The science nerds hope to convert even more people who probably slept through chemistry class when their first book comes out at the end of the year — full of quirky, gotta-know questions and answers not yet broadcast on the channel.
What are the questions people have in their daily lives? We want to show them that there’s actually an amazing explanation.
It’s easy to see what all the buzz is about. AsapSCIENCE offers easy-to-grasp answers to the questions everyone has pondered at some point, playfully illustrated with dry-erase marker animations. Their mission? To make science fun, even enthralling — especially for the mass of YouTubers who dreaded spending time in their high-school lab.
“How do we reach those people? What are the questions people have in their daily lives?” Moffit said. “We want to show them that there’s actually an amazing explanation.”
And their explanations are the antithesis of wading through a textbook or a journal article that buries you in a maze of jargon. AsapSCIENCE indulges our inner nerd by boiling complex scientific concepts down to three-minute videos and leaving behind enough tasty tidbits to keep viewers coming back for more. (Cashews grow on apples? The odds of dying on the way to buying a lottery ticket are higher than the odds of winning? Mind blown.) Meanwhile, the simple cartoon drawings make the explanations much less scary and much more Wimpy Kid.
The channel has become a full-time job for 25-year-old Moffit and Brown, who churn out one video each week from a studio above their Toronto apartment. After settling on a question — often from their fans — they begin the long process of researching the answer, limiting themselves to peer-reviewed journals to make sure they get the facts straight.
But the hardest part is deciding which facts to cut. Initially, according to Moffit, “The script has so much awesome information, but it’s way too technical.” Once the script gets edited, Moffit records the narration, while Brown, who minored in art, draws the figures on a whiteboard. Moffit then taps into his film background to shoot and edit the footage. All told, producing just one video takes about three days, sometimes keeping the digital duo awake until 4:00 in the morning.
The sleepless nights are paying off though. Moffit and Brown’s legion of fans includes their idol, Bill Nye, who starred in their recent video exploring whether we could stop an asteroid from colliding into Earth. Three-year old Maxwell, who memorized their periodic table song, also ranks among their favorite fans.
In the meantime, AsapSCIENCE is still one giant science experiment. “We live in a world of perpetual unknowns. Is this as big as it gets?” Moffit wonders. “We have no idea.” Well, there are about 1.9 million fans who will tune in for the answer.
- Melissa Pandika, Melissa Pandika is a lab rat-turned-journalist with an eye to all things science, medicine and more. Likes distance running, snails, late-night Korean BBQ + R&B slow jams.Contact Melissa Pandika