Veritasium's Derek Muller Answers the Web's Most Searched Questions

Veritasium's Derek Muller answers the web's most searched questions about himself. Where did the name 'Veritasium' come from? Is Veritasium a real element? Where does Derek live? Is he married? What was Veritasium's first video? Derek answers all these questions and much more! Check out Derek's channel: Veritasium https://www.youtube.com/@veritasium Director: Katherine Wzorek Director of Photography: Matt Krueger Editor: Ron Douglas Talent: Derek Muller Line Producer: Joseph Buscemi Associate Producer: Melissa Cho Production Managers: Peter Brunette, Andressa Pelachi Production Coordinator: Carol Wachockier Audio: Mike Faner Cam Op/Gaffer: Nate Cornett Production Assistant: Ariel Labasan Post Production Supervisor: Alexa Deutsch Post Production Coordinator: Ian Bryant Supervising Editor: Doug Larsen Assistant Editor: Billy Ward

Video Transcript

- Hi, I'm Derek Muller, the creator of the Veritasium YouTube channel, and this is the Wired Autocomplete interview.

The internet's a weird place.

I think I'm on one of those websites with the feet.

Who is Veritasium guy on YouTube?

My approach to making YouTube videos has always been, this is about a thing, an idea, a piece of science, and it's not about me.

So I don't announce my name, but I'm Derek.

Hi, nice to meet you.

What does Veritasium mean in Latin?

Well, it's kind of a made-up word.

The start of the word, veritas, is Latin for truth, and then adding -ium on the end makes it sound like an element.

An element of truth, get it?

A lot of people thought that I had picked the name from "Harry Potter", because in "Harry Potter", there's veritas serum, which is a truth serum, which of course, again, makes sense based on the the Latin veritas.

But I haven't actually read "Harry Potter," so for me, this is always just an element of truth.

What software does Veritasium use?

A funny thing about me is that I only use Final Cut Pro X.

So when I'm making a thumbnail... A lot of people will go to Photoshop.

So when you see the text on my thumbnails, all of that, I add in Final Cut, 'cause it's just... That's my home.

That's the place that I know.

If you see bad animations in my video, I've probably cobbled them together in Final Cut Pro.

If you see good animations, they were made by someone else in a different piece of software, probably After Effects.

Where does Derek Muller live?

I'm currently living in Los Angeles.

My parents were South African.

I was born in Australia.

I grew up in Canada and now I live in L.A.

So I've been all over.

And who knows how long we'll stay here?

Derek Muller accent.

My accent I feel like is generally North American.

I try to fit in wherever I go.

So here, in the States, I try to basically just sound American.

In the early videos, I did sound a bit Australian, because I was living in Australia, and even when I say the word Australian, then I start to sound a bit Australian.

So this is me doing an Australian accent, which frankly is not that good.

And Australians are gonna cringe, and they'll say, "Ah, that's a terrible accent."

That's getting a little bit kiwi, isn't it?

Ah, what is he doing?

Anyway, if I have a few drinks and I'm talking to people in Australia, then normally, my accent starts to shift a little bit, like an empathy thing, right?

When Derek Muller was young?

I guess at all times before now.

I grew up in the '90s, I wanna say, and I graduated high school in 2000.

That's when I was young.

I am now almost 40 years old, which is crazy.

Is Derek Muller married?

Yes, to a beautiful, wonderful wife, Raquel, who's a planetary geologist, a wonderful mother to my three children.

She's amazing.

Veritasium "How to Go Viral."

A couple years ago I made a video about how a video of mine went viral, and immediately, after that, I made a video about how that video went viral.

And the answer is, I guess, a couple simple things.

One, a lot of people wanted to click on that video.

The click-through rate was good.

And two, people stayed watching the video once they clicked on it.

In my mind, the hardest thing about YouTube is people knowing that you even exist.

So that's why having a viral video is so important, because it raises your channel up in the consciousness of millions of people, and then they are more likely to come back and see you again.

How smart is Veritasium?

Honestly, I don't think I'm terribly smart.

I consider my intelligence to be about average, but I think I work pretty hard.

I'm kind of stubborn and that I won't let idea go and I won't stop until I get to the bottom of something.

How to contact Veritasium?

Try me on Twitter.

I'm pretty terrible at all social media.

There is a contact forum on the website.

A couple of years ago someone emailed us, and said, "Why don't you do a video about bowling?"

I don't know anything about bowling, the science of bowling.

I don't know what's going on there.

But he had connections, got us into a bowling ball manufacturing facility, and I got to learn way more about bowling than I ever thought I would know, and it was fascinating.

And there was a ton of science there, so I loved it.

How many subscribers does Veritasium, I assume, have?

At this point, 12.7 million subscribers, I'm gonna say.

I'm very appreciative.

I never thought that I would get to this number of subscribers.

I didn't think I would reach a million.

I wanted to be a creative person, but I was scared of being a creative person and so I made YouTube videos.

Is Veritasium a good channel?

I would say yes, but of course, I'm biased.

One of my goals is I want the video to be surprising.

I want it to be interesting.

I made this video about the speed of light and how it's really hard to measure the speed of light in one direction, which is a weird thing.

Because as a physicist going through, you think that everyone knows the speed of light.

The speed of light in one direction should be well-known.

But the truth is, whenever we've measured it, we've always measured it in two directions, not one direction.

Because measuring IT in one direction's really hard.

Videos like that lead people to question, "Hang on, is this legit?"

And my answer is, yes.

I had a physics professor from UCLA bet me $10,000 that one of my videos was wrong.

I was excited about that bet, because it gave me the opportunity to explore the ideas, and I feel like maybe I hadn't done a good enough job in the first video.

That bet gave me a chance to delve deeper and explain it better than I did the first time.

I don't always get it right the first time, but I'm always passionate about getting it right.

Is Veritasium wrong about electricity?

I don't think I'm wrong about electricity, and I think if you watch all of the commentaries that say, "Veritasium is wrong" in their headline, if you actually watch the video, you find inside the video, they're like, "Actually, technically, everything he says is right," but they want to use that as clickbait, I guess.

The way electricity works is counterintuitive.

I feel like I explained it as well as anyone can.

If you disagree with me, then make your own video, 'cause I would like to see that.

Is Veritasium a real element?

No, no, it is not.

It would be really cool if one day Veritasium was a real element, but no.

Is Veritasium a physicist?

Yes, I studied engineering physics as my undergraduate degree at Queens University in Canada.

Then, I moved to Australia, and I was gonna go to film school.

So I need to do something here in Australia while I'm getting ready to go film school, and I decided to enroll in a PhD.

So I had to do graduate-level physics courses in order to get the PhD, but I was trying to merge my passions in science and film, and they had a physics education research group, and I pitched them on the idea of doing a PhD on how to make videos that would teach physics effectively.

So my PhD in physics is technically about, how do you make a film, and then you show that film to students, and what elements can you put in those films that make them more educational?

Veritasium best videos.

I do love this video that I made years ago, "The Most Common Cognitive Bias: Do you Have It?"

And it's about confirmation bias, which is I think, something a lot of us suffer from.

Obviously, the most viewed video is this one, "Shade Balls on the L.A. Reservoir," 'cause it's just such a weird thing to see, 96 million black balls spread across a lake-type thing.

Super weird.

Veritasium first video.

The first real Veritasium video I would say was one about the atomic hypothesis.

Richard Feynman asked the question, what if all of scientific knowledge was wiped out, and we could only leave one sentence to the people who came after?

What one sentence would carry the most information on the path to recovering all the scientific knowledge?

And for Feynman, it was the atomic hypothesis, the idea that everything in our universe is made up of atoms, and they attract each other when they're far apart but kind of repel if they get too close.

And that is about as good as you could do in a single sentence on the path to rediscovering all of knowledge.

Veritasium clickbait.

Hopefully, this isn't people accusing me of making clickbait, but I do have a video about clickbait.

I called it "The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Clickbait."

And in that video, I reflect on my own terrible history with trying to title and thumbnail my own videos.

So my goal with the title and thumbnail is always to help people understand what is this video actually about.

And often, the most technical, or clear, or specific, scientifically accurate way to represent that is not the way that people will understand what that video's really about.

And this is a shift that I've only feel like I've realized in the last few years.

And even now, we are really, really bad at it.

And I wanna apologize to all the people out there, 'cause sometimes I launch a video with a certain title and thumbnail, people don't know what we're talking about, and we switch it to a different title and thumbnail, and people feel like we're trying to manipulate them.

I am just trying to give the video the clearest possible title and thumbnail that really communicate what this video's about.

Veritasium "Our Greatest Delusion".

For me, this is one of my most personal videos, the idea that we think, in some way, that we all last forever.

That's a good delusion to have, I guess, when you're living, is not to be thinking about your mortality all the time, and I think it's how most of us live.

But I do think it's important to recognize from time to time that we don't have that permanence.

Having that perspective, hopefully, allows you to focus on on the really, really important things in life.

So I hope, when people watch that video, that's maybe a feeling that they get out of it.

Go for things that are really meaningful and spend their time on those things as opposed to the the frivolous stuff that we fill our lives with.

How much does Derek Muller make?

Way more than I ever thought I would make.

It's always kind of impossible to know what a YouTuber makes, because you don't know where those views are coming from and and the rates are just so variable.

And we have no way of checking on YouTube to say, "Okay is that really where this is coming from?"

We just take their word for it.

They're like, "Eh, this is what you get."

And you're like, "I guess."

It's more than I made doing regular jobs, so I'm happy with it.

Derek Muller PhD thesis.

I wrote a PhD thesis, which is about 300 pages.

I'm gonna put a link to the thesis from my website.

Anyone who wants to read my PhD, you're more than welcome to.

I think it's very readable because it's a PhD on how to make films to teach physics.

Derek Muller "Twisting the Dragons Tale".

This is not something I like to do for fun in my spare time.

It is part of the name of a documentary that I did, and it goes through the whole history of radioactivity, discovering how we get energy from rocks and radiation, what it can be used for, development of the bomb, all that sort of stuff.

And the reason why the term "twisting the dragons tale" is there is because I think some of the scientists at Los Alamos who were working on the atomic bomb talked about tickling the dragons tale, where they were trying to find the critical mass, the amount of this radioactive matter that you would need to cause a fission chain reaction.

You're experimenting with the very edge of causing a gigantic explosion.

Thank you, Wired audience, for hanging out with me.

If you wanna see more of what I do, go to check out Veritasium.

They didn't even tell me to do that.

I just did a shameless plug for my channel because I'm a YouTuber.

It is in my blood now.

It is in my DNA to say, "You know what?

Go spell Veritasium up in the search bar."