Kurzgesagt (German for «in a nutshell») is a Munich-based design studio, with a distinctive perspective on design and animation within the fields of education, science and commerce. Founded in 2012 by Philipp Dettmer & Stephan Rether, the studio engages in information design projects of all kinds. We love science, minimalism, colors and music. But most of all combining them to tell stories.
At this very second, you are on a narrow ledge between life and death. You probably don’t feel it, but there is an incredible amount of activity going on inside you. And this activity can never stop. Picture yourself as a slinky falling down an escalator moving upwards – the falling part represents the self replicating processes of your cells, the escalator represents the laws of physics, driving you forwards. To be alive is to be in motion but never arriving anywhere. If you reach the top of the escalator there is no more falling possible and you are dead forever. Somewhat unsettlingly, the universe wants you to reach the top. How do you avoid that and why are you alive?
In nearly every corner of the Earth, ants wage war against each other. Their weapons are what nature gave them. Some have strong armour, deadly stingers or sharp mandibles. And then there is this tiny, and not very impressive ant. But it rules the biggest empire any ant has ever built. A colony spanning continents and fighting wars that leave millions of casualties. Let’s take a look at this unlikely warrioress: Linepithema humile, the Argentine ant.
As you may have noticed, we like to blow stuff up on this channel. So when the International Red Cross approached us to collaborate on a video about nuclear weapons, we were more than excited. Until we did the research. It turned out we were a bit oblivious off the real impact of nuclear weapons in the real world, on a real city. And especially, how helpless even the most developed nations on earth would be if an attack occurred today. So hopefully this video demonstrates how extremely non fun a real world nuclear attack would be, without being to gruesome. This collaboration was a blast (no pun intended) and we want to say a huge thank you to the International Red Cross!
Neutron stars are one of the most extreme and violent things in the universe. Giant atomic nuclei, only a few kilometers in diameter but as massive as stars. And they owe their existence to the death of something majestic.
Getting to space is incredibly hard, expensive and needs a lot of resources. A more efficient way to get there is a Skyhook (or Spacetether), an ever rotating cable with a counter weight, that catapults spaceships from earth orbit into the depths of space.
Everybody is familiar with the feeling that things are not as they should be. That you are not successful enough, your relationships not satisfying enough. That you don’t have the things you crave. In this video we want to talk about one of the strongest predictors of how happy people are, how easily they make friends and how good they are at dealing with hardship. An antidote against dissatisfaction so to speak: Gratitude.
For most of our history, the human population grew slowly. Until new discoveries brought us more food and made us live longer. In just a hundred years the human population quadrupled. This led to apocalyptic visions of an overcrowded earth. But the population growth rate actually peaked in the 1960s. Since then, fertility rates have crashed as countries industrialize and develop. World population is now expected to balance out at around 11 billion by the end of the century. But the big picture conceals the details.
Nothing in the Universe is static. In the milky way, billions of stars orbit the galactic center. Some, like our sun, are pretty consistent, keeping a distance of around 30,000 light years from the galactic center, completing an orbit every 230 million years. This dance is not an orderly ballet - more like a skating rink filled with drunk toddlers. This chaos makes the galaxy dangerous. Our solar neighbourhood is constantly changing, with stars moving hundreds of kilometers every second. Only the vast distances between objects protect us from the dangers out there. But we might get unlucky in the future. At some point we could encounter a star going supernova. Or a massive object passing by and showering earth with asteroids. If something like this were to happen we would likely know thousands, if not millions of years in advance. But we still couldn’t do much about it. Unless… we move our whole solar system out of the way.
For years, you have been asking us how we make our videos. So let’s finally talk about it! From research, writing the script, illustrating, to animating, narrating and composing music, a Kurzgesagt video takes roughly 1.200 hours to produce!
Cancer is a creepy and mysterious thing. While we tried to understand it, to get better at killing it, we discovered a biological paradox that remains unsolved to this day: large animals seem to be immune to cancer. Which doesn’t make any sense – the bigger a being, the more cancer it should have. To understand why, we first need to take a look at the nature of cancer itself.
A huge thanks to the experts who helped us on short notice with the video. Especially “Our World in Data”, the online publication for research and data on the world’s largest problems – and how to make progress solving them. Check out their site. It also includes a constantly updated page on the Corona Pandemic. In December 2019 the Chinese authorities notified the world that a virus was spreading through their communities. In the following months it spread to other countries, with cases doubling within days. This virus is the “Severe acute respiratory syndrome-related coronavirus 2”, that causes the disease called COVID19, and that everyone simply calls Coronavirus. What actually happens when it infects a human and what should we all do?
Sometimes the world feels boring. All the remote islands are visited, the arctic conquered, the dense jungles discovered. Except, there is still a place to explore: A wet deadly desert where mysterious creatures live in total darkness: The deep sea. Let us dive down.
In September of 1940, an 18-year-old mechanic named Marcel Ravidat was walking his dog, Robot, in the countryside of Southwestern France when the dog disappeared down a hole. Robot eventually returned but the next day, Ravidat went to the spot with three friends to explore the hole. And after quite a bit of digging, they discovered a cave with walls covered with paintings, including over 900 paintings of animals, horses, stags, bison and also species that are now extinct, including a wooly rhinoceros. The paintings were astonishingly detailed and vivid with red, yellow and black paint made from pulverized mineral pigments that were usually blown through a narrow tube, possibly a hollowed bone, onto the walls of the cave. It would eventually be established that these artworks were at least 17,000 years old.
The sun. Smooth and round and peaceful. Except when it suddenly vomits radiation and plasma in random directions. These solar flares and coronal mass ejections, or CMEs can hit earth and have serious consequences for humanity. How exactly do they work, how bad could they be and can we prepare for them?
Since the Industrial Revolution, humans have released over 1.5 trillion tonnes of carbon dioxide or CO2 into the earth's atmosphere. In the year 2019 we were still pumping out around 37 billion more. That’s 50% more than the year 2000 and almost three times as much as 50 years ago. And it’s not just CO2. We’re also pumping out growing volumes of other greenhouse gases such as methane and nitrous oxide. Combining all of our greenhouse gases, we’re emitting 51 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalents each year. And emissions keep rising – but they need to get down to 0!
Humans are proud of a lot of things, from particle accelerators, to poetry to pokemon. All of them made possible because of something humans value extremely highly: intelligence.
The observable universe is a big place that has been around for more than 13 billion years. Up to two trillion galaxies made up of something like 20,000 billion billion stars surround our home galaxy. In the milky way alone scientists assume there are some 40 billion earth like planets in the habitable zone of their stars. When we look at these numbers it is hard to imagine that there is nobody else out there.
Getting rare materials from the ground into your phone is ugly. The mining industry is responsible for air and water pollution and the destruction of entire landscapes. But what if we could replace the mining industry on Earth with a clean process that can’t harm anyone? Well, we can. All we need to do is look up.
Deep in tropical jungles lie floating kingdoms ruled by beautiful and deadly masters: They are sort of the high elves of the ant kingdoms: Talented architects that create castles and city states. But they are also fierce and expansionist warriors and their kingdoms are ensnared in a never ending war for survival. Oecophylla weaver ants.
What is the largest star in the Universe? And why is it that large? And what ARE stars anyway?
Climate Change is just too much. There is never any good news. Only graphs that get more and more red and angry. Almost every year breaks some horrible record, from the harshest heat waves to the most rapid Glacier melt. It’s endless and relentless. We have known for decades that rapid Climate Change is being caused by the release of Greenhouse Gases. But instead of reducing them, in 2019 the world was emitting 50% more CO2 than in the year 2000. And emissions are still rising. Why is that? Why is it so hard to just stop emitting these gases?
Consciousness is perhaps the biggest riddle in nature. In the first part of this three part video series, we explore the origins of consciousness and take a closer look on how unaware things became aware.
Did you know that we could start building a Lunar Base today?
Meat is a complicated issue. But also a delicious one. Let's talk about it.
It’s hard to define what makes something beautiful, but we seem to know beauty when we see it. Why is that and how does beauty affect our subconscious?