Fascinating YouTube Videos (FYV) – I

Hi everyone, this is a short new series which I should have actually published way back in 2015 (!!) but I forgot to 😦

I found a few amazing YouTube Science channels which had extremely interesting demonstrations and explanations of common scientific phenomena which were mindblowing. The channels I liked were Smarter Every Day, vSauce, Veritasium, and minutePhysics.

I will give a brief summary of each of the videos I saw, because I really liked them and I don’t want to forget whatever I learned while watching them.

1. Veritasium’s Can Silence Actually Drive You Crazy?This video described Derek’s experience in an anechoic chamber, which is a special room surrounded all around by foam which absorbs both low and high frequency sounds, and prevents echoing. It has been said that it is impossible for anyone to spend over 45 minutes in a room like this, they simply go crazy! Well, he didn’t believe that, and in the course of the video, he spent an hour in the room. He said he could hear every tiny bodily movement, the sound of his heart, blood pumping, himself swallowing…it sounds unearthly and creepy. But he says it isn’t unnerving in any way.

2. vSauce and Veritasium What is Random? and What is NOT Random?Maximum information is transferred when there is complete randomness. Anything with order can be compressed, such as a series of zeroes or ones, or a video after noting common regions and repeating scenes. A fully compressed object contains only randomness. Information is entropy. Scientific theories are our way of compressing the information of the universe. If you knew everything (state of the universe) you could perfectly predict the universe. But information is being created. Entropy of the universe increases with time. Each time a quantum measurement is made, there is information created. Information is entropy. Each quantum measurement in the universe creates more entropy. Quantum mechanics cannot be compressed any further, it is intrinsically random. This is the observation of the Second Law of Thermodynamics. Our own free will could actually be a result of quantum mechanical reactions in our brains. This keeps our futures random and will probably keep them as such for a long time to come. It is theoretically possible to get the result of a coin flip given every single thing, force, wind, etc.

3. vSauce’s Moving IllusionsA video in which Michael describes various optical illusions called anamorphic illusions which work only when viewed in one reference frame, and fall apart on closer inspection. He demonstrates several highly realistic illusions which are clearly artificial from another position.

4. minutePhysics How to Break The Speed of LightIn this video, minutePhysics claims that you can break the speed of light in your own backyard simply by flicking a laser pointer’s image across the face of the moon. The argument is that the image of the laser on the moon is not a physical object, and hence, Einstein’s Theory of Relativity does not impose a speed limit on it at all, so it can travel at twenty times the speed of light. There is no information being transferred, and hence it is allowed.

5. Smarter Every Day’s The Backwards Brain BicycleIn this video, Dustin has a bicycle mechanically engineered to turn opposite to how it normally should, that is, its front wheel turns right when the handlebars are turned left, and vice versa. Now, he thought he could easily “un-learn” how to ride a normal bicycle and learn how to ride this re-engineered one, but it took him nearly eight months to learn how to ride it! When he tried to go back to a normal cycle, he made a fool of himself, he was not able to ride it for about 15 minutes. His son, who had learnt how to ride a cycle only three years ago, was easily able to learn to ride the new one in only about two weeks which Dustin considered a sure sign of a child’s higher neural plasticity.

6. minutePhysics Is it Better to Walk or Run in the Rain?This video was made to check whether it is better to walk or run in the rain when you do not have an umbrella with you, and would like to decrease the amount of rain hitting you. He takes a neat mathematical approach and concludes that it is indeed better to run in the rain, given the above criteria. However, it will be more dangerous to run, since you could slip and fall. Although this isn’t mentioned, I would still prefer walking and getting soaked compared to getting less soaked and falling on the slippery road.

7. Smarter Every Day’s Water Balloon to the Face doesn’t PopSeem’s like Dustin is the only one in the lot with a set of amazing high speed high resolution cameras, and the videos he gets from them are absolute treats to watch. He has water balloons thrown at him and his friends, and they bounce off. In slow motion, you can see the balloons mould themselves to their faces and then regain their original shapes, it looks hilarious and yet, quite amazing. He also has a video of himself popping a balloon while holding it, and since the plastic tears away rapidly, he looks as though he is holding water shaped like a balloon. Again, you have to see it to believe it.

8. Veritasium’s World’s Roundest ObjectIn this video, Derek goes to the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), where they have a sphere of pure Silicon-28 isotope, said to be the world’s roundest object. The intention of making this thing of beauty was to redefine the SI unit of mass, the kilogram, currently defined by the weight of a platinum-iridium cylinder at the International Bureau of Weights and Measures in Paris. The idea is to define the kilogram by using a precise number of atoms of silicon, to do away with the concept of an object to define it. They will measure the diameter of the sphere precisely using lasers, and can use the precise crystal lattice structure of Silicon to find the number of atoms in the sphere. This number will be used as the new measure of a kilogram.

9. Veritasium’s Can You Solve This?In this video, Derek gives random strangers the sequence 2,4,8, and asks them to find the pattern. He encourages them to give him more examples of sequences they believe will fit the pattern, and he will confirm whether they do, or they do not. In every single case, the test subjects believe the rule is to multiply by 2. They have this underlying bias about the rule and don’t stray from the path until much later. The rule was simply sequences of increasing numbers which the subjects found out after much prompting. The video touched upon the topic of underlying assumptions made by people.

10. minutePhysics How Airplanes are Made Henry visits the Airbus production facility in France, and outlines how an Airbus A350 is put together. The work of several engineers plays a major role, of course. The engines and systems are extensively tested, both on and off runway, before the plane is delivered to airlines across the globe. Overall, a very informative behind-the-scenes video.

11. Veritasium’s Five Fun Physics PhenomenaIn this video, Derek points out five interesting physical phenomena that seem like magic tricks, and asks for explanations.

  1. He takes a cane and tries putting his fingers exactly under the centre of mass. But he can’t. However, when he pushes his fingers together from both sides, he is able to make them meet exactly at the centre of mass.
  2. He takes a teabag and empties out the tea. He lights the top on fire uniformly around the circumference, and when the whole teabag has burnt, the ash flies into the air!
  3. He takes normal breakfast cereal, puts it into a bowl of water, and uses a strong magnet to move it around.
  4. He claims that when a comb is moved through your hair and placed near a stream of water, the water isn’t being attracted due to the electric field, it would need an extremely strong field to attract diamagnetic water molecules, and the dipoles should only align in the direction of the electric field. Hint: Although he didn’t mention it, the explanation suggests it doesn’t work with distilled water.
  5. He flips a phone along its long axis and along its short axis, and it flips smoothly. But when he tries flipping along the third axis, the flip is inelegant and ends up along one of the other two axes.

12. Veritasium’s Explained: Five Fun Physics PhenomenaIn this video, Derek explains the previously mentioned physical phenomena.

    1. The cane experiment had a very interesting explanation relating to torques, forces and friction. He reasoned that the finger close to the centre of mass experienced more friction compared to the other since more force was required to balance the torque. No matter how or at what speed the fingers moved, they will necessarily end up at the centre of mass.
    2. The ash left after the teabag burns completely is lighter than the air around it, so the cooler ir pushes up the hotter air, along with the remnant ashes of the teabag.
    3. This has a somewhat anti-climatic explanation, that of the cereal simply containing lead. However, one commenter noticed this phenomenon even with bits of paper, plastic and other materials. The diamagnetic nature of water causes it to slightly repel the magnet, and move inward. This creates a slight hollow near the object, hence it moves into it, towards the magnet.
    4. The explanation was that the effect was due to the ions present in the water, the negative ones were repelled into the tap, and the positive ones attracted to the comb due to electrostatic attraction forces.
    5. The phenomenon is a result of the Intermediate Axes Theorem in Rotational Dynamics, which basically transfers a rotation along an arbitrary axis as a rotation along two other mutually perpendicular axes. The rotation is transformed as the phone flies in the air, and is eventually a result of rotation along either of these two axes.

All in all, watching videos from these channels is always a really enlightening experience! I will release part-2 of this series with more interesting video summaries soon!

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