I’ve become absolutely obsessed with a YouTube channel that on average only puts out about one video per month. The Kurzgesagt – In a Nutshell series has amassed almost three million subscribers in just a few years. The creators make wildly awesome and beautifully designed animated videos explaining space, science, life, war and culture.
If you aren’t already subscribed, do yourself that favor. But before you do that, I’ve compiled here four of their particularly interesting videos about life. What is life? Who are you? These are the questions the small team of producers attempt to answer by delving into the wonders and awe of science.
Warning: your mind is about to get seriously blown.
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1. What is Life? Is Death Real?
Let’s jump right into philosophy and existentialism, shall we? The first Kurzgesagt video on this list attempts to tackle what life actually is, how clear the line is between life and death and whether death could be a vehicle to sustain life. This is all explained as best as we know as a species through science.
Nothing that we are made of at its smallest part is actually alive in itself.
It’s easy to draw the line between life and death on a large scale, but it becomes far more difficult when you zoom in on our building blocks. Nothing that we are made of at its smallest part is actually alive in itself. Lots of reactions are taking place all by nonliving things to create what we call life. Then of course there are viruses which seem to challenge our whole concepts of dead vs. living. There is also artificial intelligence: at what point does it become so intelligent that it’s no longer artificial?
It’s all very complicated and fascinating. Let the video explain.
2. What Are You?
You and everything within you are made up of trillions of cells. But what happens if you, say, donate an organ to someone else? Does that mean a part of you is now a part of someone else? Is that person no longer the same person intrinsically? Your cells also recycle themselves so that new ones clear out the old and mutations occur within you all the time, thousands of them.
Ultimately, at what point do you stop being you, or are you always just a constantly changing version of yourself somehow? It’s a remarkable question that has an obscure answer.
3. How Evolution Works
This one is far less philosophical so your brain should hurt much less, I promise. This nearly 12-minute video excellently explains the entire process of evolution and how it works from genetic mutations to the principle that has dominated nature for as long as we’ve observed: survival of the fittest.
The basic building blocks of life have evolved into something so complex over millions of years
It’s nothing short of stunning how the basic building blocks of life have evolved into something so complex over millions of years. It’s even more extraordinary to see it unfold in a beautifully crafted cartoon.
4. What Happened Before History? Human Origins
Once you’ve wrapped your head around the slow and complex phenomenon of evolution, which still blows my mind, enjoy this video exploring the origins of human life specifically. Bear in mind that humans, or Homo sapiens, are really the only species on the planet that don’t consciously worry about food, shelter and life-threatening situations on a daily basis as means for survival. But we weren’t always this relaxed, if you will. We’ve endured quite a bit to get where we are.
Despite the thousands of years that gone by since modern humans entered the picture, you’ll also get a look at how fast progress has become in the grand scheme of it all.