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You are not alone in the universe. You never were. You never will be.
"Here in the Kurzgesagt labs we only work on the most important scientific problems, like 'What if we nuke stuff?', or 'How about we make this elephant explode?', or, who could forget, 'Look at this thing. It's really big.'"
— "What if the World turned to Gold? - The Gold Apocalypse"

Kurzgesagt Information Design, better known as Kurzgesagt, is a Munich-based animation studio and YouTube channel founded in 2013 and owned by Phillip Dettmer.

Kurzgesagt is best known for their Edutainment series, In a Nutshell, in which they use animation, minimalist design, and narration to discuss scientific, historical, political, psychological, and cultural matters. The videos are presented from a position of "optimistic nihilism (as they call it), that we are alone and ultimately insignificant in the cosmos, but that should not be the source of existential dread; rather, it frees us to determine our own purpose.

Though originally a small information design studio for various commercial clients, the unexpected popularity of Kurzgesagt's YouTube videos gave them the gift every studio strives for - the freedom to work on what they want. In this case, more of the informational science videos that gained them popularity in the first place.

Kurzgesagt is an English-language channel, but most videos are also available in German on their sister channel, Dinge Erklärt – Kurzgesagt.

Compare The Infographics Show, the more "interesting topics" oriented, BuzzFeed-like counterpart.


In a Nutshell provides examples of:

  • Absent Aliens: Discussed as a possible solution to the Fermi Paradox. We are either the first intelligent and sapient species that will ever venture into space or all intelligent life is doomed to extinction as it passes through any of many possible ecological filters.
  • Aliens Are Bastards: Discussed and deconstructed in "Why We Should NOT Look For Aliens", which looks at The Dark Forest Solution to the Fermi Paradox. Because of the apparent lack of evidence for other civilizations, and both the power and speed of technological progress, it could mean that alien civilizations are out there and view each other as existential threats. The only ways to survive are to stay silent or, if anyone finds you, to strike first and eliminate them.
  • Alliterative List: From "What Is Intelligence? Where Does it Begin?":
    Humans are proud of a lot of things. From particle accelerators, to poetry, to Pokemon.
  • Alternative Calendar: In "A New History for Humanity - The Human Era", Kurzgesagt proposes a new calendar with year 0 at the approximate age of Gobekli Tepe, the oldest known megaliths. While inclusive of the entire history of humanity, it also simply adds 10,000 to the current year AD. You can buy Human Era calendars in their store.
  • Ambiguous Situation: Played for Drama and Horror in "How A Nuclear War Will Start - Minute by Minute", where a newly-inaugurated president is given less than 15 minutes to decide whether or not to retaliate to a nuclear first strike that might be the product of computer glitches or a misunderstanding. The general notes that the enemy is only firing part of their arsenal and their own computers are glitching out, which might be the product of military strategy- holding some in reserve and ionizing the atmosphere to scramble signals- but it's also just as possible that their aging system is malfunctioning. The point is that leaders of nuclear-armed nations will never have all the information they need during these situations and, from their perspective, only a few minutes to make a decision that will affect everyone on Earth.
  • Ancient Conspiracy: Do rich and powerful people ignore the imminent apocalypse? note 
  • The Anti-Nihilist: Kurzgesagt's official stance on existential issues is "optimistic nihilism", and an episode is dedicated to its discussion.
  • Ant War: Showcased and discussed in the "The World War of the Ants" series, where various prominent ant species are presented. On top of their remarkable sophistication, ants in general are depicted as seemingly inherently warlike, locked in a state of perpetual, merciless conflict between different hives and/or species, with billions of ants fighting and dying everyday fighting for food and territory. It gets to the point that compared to ants, humanity almost comes off as a species of relative pacifists.
  • Apocalypse How: A lot of videos mention possible ways for the world to end.
    • "The Most Extreme Explosion in the Universe" examines the effects of a supernova if it exploded near Earth, with one 100 light-years away causing a Class 3B, one within 25 light-years causing a Class 4, and (while very unlikely) one closer than 4 light-years would trigger a Class 5.
    • "Aliens under the Ice" discusses how a rogue planet that has life would suffer a Class 5 or Class 6 once the planet's core cools off.
    • Discusses a Class X4 by Big Crunch, Big Rip, or Heat Death.
    • Another segment discusses a potential Class X-5 due to vacuum decay, which would not only be the end of the universe, but the destruction of physics and chemistry.
  • Apocalypse Not:
    • The potential apocalypse due to vacuum decay is first explained and then flipped on its head due to the fact that, since vacuum decay would propagate at light speed, it would take centuries or millennia before it ever reached us, if it ever does as the universe's expansion would push them further and further away. Additionally, they point out that vacuum decay is based on our current understanding of physics, which could turn out to be wrong as we learn more about the universe.
    • If the Earth were to be kicked from the solar system by a rogue star, it would soon become an inhospitable ball of ice... but humanity would have had thousands of years to prepare for the ejection, giving us ample time to either abandon it or create bases far under the surface, which would stay unaffected. The conclusion of the video is that humanity would survive, and maybe one day, find another world to call its own.
    • Overpopulation – The Human Explosion Explained shows how the supposed Overpopulation Crisis is overblown, as birth rates have been collapsing in every nation, with some seeing no population growth recently.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: In "How to Win an Interstellar War", the human race is introduced as a technological civilization with rockets, nuclear weapons, and memes.
  • Awesome Underwater World: In Aliens under the Ice – Life on Rogue Planets, it is shown how thanks to hydrothermal vents on the ocean floor, it is possible for life to thrive without the sun. The video speculates about rogue planets that could also harbor vast alien ecosystems under the ice.
  • Black Comedy: The animated birds often die in very horrible ways for comedic effect, such as falling apart when their bodies are opened up to display how bodily systems work.
  • Bland-Name Product: Facebook to Buttbook.
  • Book Ends: Several videos open and close with similar shots and scenes. For example, "Safe and Sorry" begins with a shot of the burning Twin Towers and ends with a skyline of New York featuring the One World Trade Center.
  • Butt-Monkey:
    • For the birds that often appear, see Black Comedy above. Poor things just can't catch a break...
    • Whenever they talk about stars, expect the Narrator to roast brown dwarf stars:
      • From "Aliens under the Ice – Life on Rogue Planets":
        Narrator: For example sub-brown dwarfs – gas giants that form from collapsing gas clouds and are the boring little brothers of brown dwarfs. They're a sort of failed star, and we'll now stop talking about them.
      • From "The Largest Star in the Universe – Size Comparison"
        Narrator: The transition towards stars begins with brown dwarfs, failed stars, that are a huge disappointment to their mums. (...) So brown dwarfs are a sort of glowy gas giant that don't fit into any category very well. But we want to talk about stars, not failed wannabe stars, so let's move on.
  • Cardiovascular Love: In "How Evolution Works", using heart symbols floating away from animals' heads to represent love / sex, and new smaller animals appearing, while saying:
    A species is a community of animals that is capable of producing offspring between one another.
  • Casual Interstellar Travel: Several videos end up deconstructing this:
    • "Why Earth Is A Prison" explains how difficult it is just to escape Earth's gravity well.
    • "Space Elevator" explains that despite the benefits of a space elevator, it would require tons of resources, experimental materials, and lots of luck to construct.
    • "How Far We Go?" is about how even if humanity became a Type 3 civilization, traveling outside the Local Group will be impossible due to expansion of the universe separating it from other galaxy groups. However, this was debunked in a later video.
  • Catch-22 Dilemma: "The Deadliest Being on Planet Earth – The Bacteriophage" points out how Bacteriophages could allow us to invoke this trope on Superbugs—even if they do manage to become resistant to their corresponding Phages (easier said than done, since Phages evolve too and have been doing well in the arms race thus far), they'd have to give up their antibiotic resistance in the process.
  • Colony Drop: "What if the Moon Crashed Into Earth?" explores this, but instead of dropping the moon straight down, a magic spell is cast on it so it's slowly pulled in by Earth's gravity while still in orbit.
  • Continuity Nod: "What Happens if the Moon Crashes into Earth?" opens with a reference to their previous videos, namely "The Gold Apocalypse" (where a golden hand touches the globe and turns it into gold) and "How Large Can a Bacteria get?" (where a machine turns a microbe gigantic).
  • Cool Shades: Scientists get these, like Darwin and Einstein.
  • Couch Gag: Downplayed. During the intro sequence of videos, the monkey always carries a different item featured or related in the episode.
  • Darker and Edgier: Most videos involving Stuff Blowing Up are made for fun, and any representation of death is shown with birds dying in spectacularly hilarious ways. This is definitely not the case with "What if We Nuke a City?" where humans are shown being burned alive, impaled with sharp glass, suffering from broken bones and radiation poisoning, blinded, deaf, and being completely helpless to the disaster they're victims of. All in service of showing that while blowing things up in videos is fun, doing it in real life with real people has devastating consequences. The tone of the video is far more grave and very little humor, in contrast to most such videos.
  • Designer Babies: The aptly titled "Designer Babies" discusses the potential for designer babies with CRISPR.
  • Drone of Dread: The "Nuke a City" video's soundtrack has a series of low, electronic hums play twice: first when the mushroom cloud and the immediate destruction it causes are shown in a wide shot, and then during the explanation that the threat of nuclear war now is greater than it ever has been. The soundtrack for the "Nuke the Moon" also briefly uses the drone during the animation of a nuclear explosion on Earth.
  • Drugs Are Bad: One video discusses why this mentality makes the drug crisis worse, among other factors and solutions.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: The first videos were slower paced and focused more on illustration than animation. Justified in that they were experimental videos created more to demonstrate studio aptitude (i.e. a portfolio piece) and created in their free time while doing full time work elsewhere rather than for general consumption. They have mentioned they wish to go back and redo some of their earlier videos to fit the modern style.
  • Eldritch Location: What Happens When You Destroy A Black Hole deals with real-life example that is the interior of a black hole. Beyond the event horizon lies a singuarity - a point of infinite density that warps reality so much that space starts to behave like time and time starts to behave like space, among other things.
  • The End of the World as We Know It: Discussed in many videos, usually as part of the nature of biology and society:
    • Genetic modifications are expected to become the norm for future humans as CRISPR is further researched, resulting in a paradigm shift.
    • Humanity may give up its freedoms and liberties in exchange for safety and surveillance.
    • Really, many of the videos explain concepts that will result in this. See A World Half Full.
    • Gamma ray bursts. It's even described as Death from Space.
    • Vacuum decay would result in The End of Physics as We Know It.
    • Automation will result in the elimination of countless human jobs.
  • Enlightened Self-Interest: "Egoistic Altruism" looks at completely selfish reasons for people to look out for one another and make the world a better place for everyone. For example a farmer in a third world country who is just scraping by is almost certainly never going to do anything that benefits you, but if the economy of his country gets strong enough that he can afford to send his children to university, they could grow up to become an inventor, engineer or scientist who builds or discovers something that improves your life.
  • Extra-Long Episode: Their videos are usually around 10 minutes long, but their 10th anniversary special is about the Geologic Time Scale scaled into a 1-hour video. They tout it as their first animated "movie".
  • A Fate Worse Than Death: Multiple:
    • The heat death of the universe, especially when the idea of a "Big Crunch" is brought to attention.
    • Vacuum decay, in which through quantum tunnelling, the universe begins to rush towards an even-lower energy state that creates a World-Wrecking Wave that could rewrite the laws of physics as we know it, kill us all, and render life in the universe completely impossible to exist again.note 
  • Fantastic Aesop: Discussed in What if the World turned to Gold: after any attempt to turn the Earth into gold causes an apocalypse of some sorts, the narrator comments that there's probably a lesson to take away from it, but he's not sure what it is.
  • Forever War:
    • As explained in "Genetic Engineering Will Change Everything Forever" and "The Deadliest Being on Planet Earth", the conflict between bacteria and bacteriophages has been raging for billions of years, and shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon.
    • "The World War of the Ants" series reveals a perpetual state of conflict also exists between different Ant hives and/or species on Earth, often on a scale and devastation that makes inter-Human conflicts pale in comparison. Billions of Ants fighting and dying every day, everywhere, over food and territory, leaving behind battlefields strewn with dead ants and devastated hives.
  • A Form You Are Comfortable With: "We Lied To You And We'll Do it Again" makes a reference to this trope, stating that things tend to be too incomprehensible for us if we don't make any attempt to simplify it.
    "The idea is that on the path to explaining something complicated, you start off with a little lie, a useful oversimplification, that makes it easier to grasp a concept. (...) To make this possible, we need to find metaphors and stories that capture the true nature of things as much as possible, while using a language that our brain can deal with."
  • For Science!:
    • What would happen if a Black Hole the size of coin appeared near you? Short answer, you die. Long answer, it dependsnote .
    • In "The Size of Life": let's drop a mouse, a dog, and an elephant from a tall building to see what happens (the mouse survives, the dog breaks every bone in its body, and the elephant explodes on impact). In the sequel: let's make an elephant mouse-sized and a mouse elephant-sized to see what happens (the elephant freezes to death, and the mouse explodes).
  • Gaia's Lament: Several videos explore the damage done to the environment by human activity. What’s Hiding at the Most Solitary Place on Earth? The Deep Sea shows how even in the Challenger Deep, the deepest point in the sea, plastic pollution can be found.
  • Genetic Engineering Is the New Nuke: CRISPR will bring about huge shift in medicine, from Designer Babies and immortality, to curing cancer.
  • Glacial Apocalypse: The Rogue Earth video is an extreme example of this trope, where a glacial apocalypse is caused by the Earth being flung out of the Solar System by a rogue star. As the planet gets farther from the Sun, temperatures gradually drop below the coldest points in Antarctica, the water cycle ceases, polar glaciers cover the entire planet, and, as Earth reaches the Kuiper Belt, temperatures become cold enough to freeze the atmosphere itself into nitrogen and oxygen snow deposits. Eventually, Earth becomes a frozen over Rogue Planet locked in a permanent ice age, killing off all living things save for some extremophiles in deep-sea hydrothermal vents.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: One explanation of Peto's Paradox (why larger animals are less prone to cancer despite having more cells) is that some of the cancerous cells may eventually mutate further, causing these newly-mutated cells to form a hypertumor separate from the original tumor. Said hypertumor then steals resources from the original tumor, killing it. In short, cancer is killing cancer.
  • Hurl It into the Sun: In "Why Don't We Shoot Nuclear Waste Into Space?", this solution was discussed then promptly deconstructed: while the Sun's strong gravity might make it easy, it's actually very difficult due to Earth and everything on it orbiting the Sun, including the very rockets launched, meaning the only way to fall in is to cancel out the orbital momentum, which is very impractical in practice due to the cost needed for the rockets in the first place.
  • Industrialized Mercury: Discussed in their video about the Dyson Sphere. They note that Mercury's proximity to the Sun, its rich abundance of metals and its low surface gravity makes it an ideal place to build and launch a series of satellites into orbit around the Sun to gather solar energy called a Dyson Swarm. It can also be used to speed up the infrastructure around Mercury, creating a feedback loop to help with the construction effort.
  • Internal Deconstruction: A lot of videos have demonstrations of explosions just because it is fun to explore. However, in "What if We Nuke A City", they remind us how in such an explosion, people, you know, die and why we should never use nuclear weapons ever.
  • Introduced Species Calamity: "The Billion Ant Mega Colony" looks at how Argentine Ants went from being found only in the Parana Delta in South America, where they faced fierce competition from two other ant species that kept their numbers in check, to stowing away on human ships and founding two new colonies in New Orleans and Madeira, to becoming the most populous ant species on Earth, with colonies across 6 continents - and all the chaos they've caused to the world's ecosystems in the process.
  • Invisible Aliens: Discussed in detail in part of a pair of videos about the Fermi Paradox.
  • Job-Stealing Robot: Discusses how robots will eventually take people's jobs in the near future.
  • Kinetic Weapons Are Just Better: Discussed in "Why we should NOT look for aliens." Any civilization that wanted to destroy life on another planet would have the ultimate weapon in the form of relativistic kill vehicles. For example, a missile the size of a person traveling at 95% the speed of light would impact with more energy than all the nuclear weapons on Earth combined. Fire a swarm of these at a planet and even just a single hit would do the job.
  • Leitmotif: The concept of time has one, using a ticking clock as the main beat.
  • Lemony Narrator: In most videos, the narrator puts himself in the "we" pronoun, and considering that "we" are basically apes with smart phones, it is acceptable.
  • Magic Countdown: In "How A Nuclear War Will Start - Minute by Minute", the General's explanation only takes about five minutes of real time, but apparently takes close to 14 minutes in-universe.
  • Meaningful Name: 'Kurz gesagt' is a German phrase equivalent to 'in a nutshell'. In fact, due to the unexpected popularity of their videos outside their home country of Germany, they rebranded the channel as In A Nutshell for non-German speakers.
  • Midas Touch:
    • "The Gold Apocalypse" is a cheeky examination of how very, very boned we'd be if King Midas accidentally transformed the entire Earth into gold. Everyone on Earth would die, although how it happened would depend on the exact rules of his transmuting powers:
      • If Midas' powers work by transforming the atoms in the object into gold: Earth is now way too dense for its size, causing the badly squeezed together gold atoms to violently repel each other in a very shiny Earth-Shattering Kaboom, enriching the Solar System with an unusually large amount of atomised gold. The end.
      • If Midas' powers work by fusing atoms together into gold: Earth is now a very porous golden planet, which as a result immediately collapses under its own weight to two-thirds of its size. Everything on it starts free-falling, only to hit the ground at 30 km per second as it stops shrinking, resulting in Earth's surface becoming considerably redder. The remains are then vaporized as the resulting internal friction heats Earth to seven-figure temperatures, ionizing the surface and everything on it into plasma, and sending a shockwave that catapults the atmosphere into outer space. The end.
      • If Midas' powers work by replacing the object with a similarly-sized object made of gold: Earth is now 3.5 times more massive, with a proportional gravity change on the surface. This is already bad, but what kills you is that the atmosphere is compressed closer to the surface, heating it to oven-like temperatures. Then, over the following years, mountains and the crust slowly collapse under their own weight, until the Earth becomes a planet covered by boiling water with a shiny ocean floor. The end.
    • Plastic Pollution: How Humans are Turning the World into Plastic compares the discovery of plastics to the Midas Touch: King Midas gained a lot of a valuable material...only for his entire world to become gold and thus unlivable. Plastic was a sought-after material that offered the world many benefits...but overtime it built up in the environment, contaminating it and wreaking enormous havoc on humanity.
  • Mike Nelson, Destroyer of Worlds: After a brief speculation of the way King Midas' power would work, the incompetent fool stumbles, falls to the ground and turn the whole planet into gold. The planet is now full of holes and collapses under its own weight. Everybody dies, and the remains of Earth are vaporized. And That's Terrible. So let's change the rules, and suppose that his power simply replaces an object with a completely similar object, but made of gold. So the bumbling fool goes for a walk, and stumbles and falls again. Midas, Midas, what mess did you get ourselves into this time?
  • Misaimed Fandom: In-Universe. "Imagine the NASA announced today they found aliens. Bacteria on Mars, weird alien fish in the oceans of Europa, and also ancient alien ruins on Titan. Wouldn't that be great?". Then we see some people celebrating. "Well, no. It would be horrible news. Devastating even. It could mean that the end of humanity is almost certain, and that it might happen soon". Their faces shift to horror as they take off the foam hands and put onTinfoil Hats instead. note 
  • Monstrous Germs: Disease-causing bacteria are depicted as this in "The Deadliest Being on Planet Earth". However, this is inverted with bacteriophages, which are depicted as friendly and harmless to humans, and could even be used to replace ntibiotics.
  • Mood Dissonance: Many videos narrate circumstances that would mean the collective demise of the human race... with bright and cheerful animations, soundtracks, ducks, and remarks such as "Not only will it slow down the delivery of Kurzgesagt products but also less exciting things like food".
  • The Narrator: An omniscient narrator explains concepts in a nutshell.
  • Never Trust a Title: A video is titled Ancient Aliens, subtitled "Are there lost alien civilizations in our past?". But, contrary to what would be expected, it is not about the Ancient Astronauts theory. Instead, it explores the idea of some non-human species becoming intelligent and developing a civilization at some point in Earth's past. Hunter-gatherers aliens did in fact exist; there were other hominids such as the Neanderthal that eventually went extinct. Civilizations with knowledge of farming or industry would leave far greater remains behind, but so far we have found absolutely zero. Any tools and structures would eventually decay and disappear after millions of years, and fossils may not reveal this in themselves.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: While use of antibiotics have eliminated many bacterial diseases, their overuse has led to the natural development of "superbugs" who can No-Sell these same antibiotics.
  • Nightmare Fuel Station Attendant: Apocalyptic scenarios, destruction of cities with nukes, diseases and wars can all be found in this channel, sometimes in surprisingly visceral details, but always with the same cartoonish art style and nonchalant, affable narration.
  • No FEMA Response: The "What if We Nuke a City?" video lampshades that it's impossible to mount any effective humanitarian response in event of a nuclear attack due to the total breakdown of society and infrastructure on top of overwhelming amount of casualties.
  • Nothing Is Scarier: This is often discussed in regards to alien life, or more specifically, while humanity has yet to encounter it. What is preventing us from finding it is the big and scary, question.
    • Why Alien Life Would be our Doom - The Great Filter explores how if alien life is truly abundant, then it would mean something prevents complex life from advancing past a certain stage and we have yet to encounter it.
    • Why We Should NOT Look For Aliens - The Dark Forest explores how possible geopolitical competition between intersellar civilizations could create alien civilizations that are destructively paranoid, comparing them to a hunter in the forest who fears the unknown, and is prepared to kill in response to any perceived threat to itself.
  • Once an Episode: The TARDIS being hidden somewhere in each episode.
  • Planetary Relocation: In the "What Happens if the Moon Crashes into Earth" video, the Moon is sent spiralling inward towards the Earth using magic (because realistically, there isn't anything that humans can do within the laws of physics to move the Moon). Over the course of a year, as the Moon gets closer, it creates more destructive ocean tides flooding the entire world, and eventually, the Earth itself starts experiencing global earthquakes and volcanism from greater tidal forces. In a Bittersweet Ending though, the Moon doesn't crash into the Earth. This is because once it reaches the Roche Limit (a point where the parent body's gravity overpowers the gravity of its satellite), the Moon is ripped apart and forms a ring system around the Earth, ending its apocalyptic stranglehold on the planet.
  • Playing Both Sides: Of the pragmatic variety. In the CRISPR video, the competition between bacteriophage viruses and bacteria as "The Oldest War on Earth". CRISPR evolved as a literal anti-virus measure. A later episode shows how we can use bacteriophages themselves against antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
  • Precursors: The Ancient Aliens episode discusses the question of Are there lost alien civilizations in our past?, in the form of the possibility that another intelligent species arose on Earth in the past. However, the video concludes that based on the remains of intelligent species of which we know existednote , and the incompleteness of the fossil record, then the evidence of such a species, if they existed at all, probably would have disappeared in a few million years, even if they did become technological "ancient astronauts" before going extinct.
  • Overly Long Gag: In "How to Win an Interstellar War", the narrator states that the Ultra-Relativistic Electron Beam travels at 99.999999999999999999999999998% of the speed of light. That's 26 9s after the decimal point that he says before finally going "phew!"
  • "Ray of Hope" Ending:
    • The Day the Dinosaurs Died ends like this: the Cretaceous Period brutally ends in a blaze of fire, killing most species on Earth and transforming the planet into a frozen wasteland, but from that calamity, a new continuity of life is born and new ecosystems spring up, eventually leading to the rise of humanity.
    • Why We Should NOT Look For Aliens, while mostly grim in tone, ends on a positive note: the hunter, after a long day trudging through the dark forest, comes to a bright and sunny clearing. When he stops to admire the flowers, he hears a noise and ends up eye to eye with another hunter. Both of them are terrified at first, but instead of running or fighting, they choose to step into the clearing and meet peacefully. Hence, the only way to break the Dark Forest Hypothesis is to accept to step into the light.
    • What Happens if the Moon Crashes into Earth? ends with Earth devastated, humanity pushed to the brink of extinction, and the Moon broken into tiny pieces. However, the Earth eventually stabilizes, some humans manage to survive, and those survivors have a beautiful new sight in the sky: the fragments of the Moon-forming beautiful new rings like Saturn.
  • Reality Is Out to Lunch: In What Happens If You Destroy A Black Hole, this is the presumed result of successfully removing the event horizon of one: you expose the singularity, a region of space-time that's infinitely distorted, to the point of having such madness as time becoming a spatial dimention. Normally, in a black hole, the event horizon prevents such phenomenon to affect the rest of the Universe, but now your naked singularity can, and physics as we know it gives up entirely at predicting what will happen (As pointed out, this would require knowing when something will happen, and where, but "when" and "where" as concepts do not make sense anymore when dealing with a singularity).
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: Several episodes are based on current events: ebola, the Syrian refugee crisis, and the propagation of surveillance on civilians by governments, among others.
  • Running Gag: Brown Dwarfs. Whenever they get brought up, expect Kurzgesagt to mock them for being useless failures.
  • Scenery Porn: The animation is gorgeous, especially when they start talking about space stuff.
  • Sequel Escalation: The Largest Black Hole In the Universe is the direct sequel to The Largest Star In The Universe. During its final zoom-out, at one point the largest star in the previous video, Stephenson 2-18, appears... only to shrink more and more, until it appears as a tiny dot compared to the (then) largest known black hole, TON-618.
  • Sci-Fi Writers Have No Sense of Scale: One video defies this, explaining how the vast distances of the universe and its expansion will make areas outside the Local Group inaccessible.
  • Shout-Out: Many.
    • Look for a TARDIS in every video.
    • The first episode about the Fermi Paradox features the Sidonia. The two patter also includes Mew, a Namekian, a a dalek, and a Galactus-like duck.
    • Pokémon, when discussing databases, banking, and the very nature of life itself.
    • Various educational sites and shows on the internet pop up from time to time as well.
    • Yoda's Theme is briefly heard in the Space Elevator video.
    • During "How We Could Build a Moon Base TODAY", a lunar ship resembling the USCSS Nostromo appears. Even sporting the Weyland-Yutani logo.
    • The opening for "Why Meat is the Best Worst Thing in the World" features cameos from several Bob's Burgers characters, specifically Gene Belcher, Louise Belcher, Calvin Fischoeder, Teddy, and Bob Belcher (well, Bob Belcher's arm).
    • Rick and Morty appear in "Genetic Engineering Will Change Everything Forever", as do Blofeld and a SPECTRE facility.
    • The snail from Adventure Time makes a brief cameo in "Aliens under the Ice".
    • BMO appears several times in "Do Robots Deserve Rights". Bender also made a cameo.
    • The Sorting Hat appears in their video on CRISPR, discussing how some might worry about future people rejecting imperfect humans.
    • In their video on neutron stars, the increasingly fast rotation of the neutron star is demonstrated with Sailor Moon doing a pirouette.
    • "This Virus Shouldn't Exist (But it Does)" has a cameo from Starlow.
    • A scene describes the huge distances between Earth and anything beyond the local group. There's a ship, "Earth" in a side and "a galaxy far, far away" in the other.
    • "What if the Moon Crashed Into Earth?" has references to the The Legend of Zelda series, such as the Moon resembling the one from Majora's Mask and the frames having ocarina notes at the bottom: the Serenade of Water is the first song, New Wave Bossa Nova is the second, the Song of Storms third, Bolero of Fire fourth, Nocturne of Shadow fifth, Song of Double Time sixth, Oath to Order seventh and eight.
    • "Let’s Travel to The Most Extreme Place in The Universe" has the main characters pressing the "M" button on their suits to shrink, and then flipping it to "W" to grow back to normal size.
    • In "What Happens if a Supervolcano Blows Up?", Gollum is shown falling into a volcano with the One Ring while The Little Prince is seen standing near another.
    • In "Why Don't We Shoot Nuclear Waste Into Space?", Godzilla rises from the ocean during the radioactive "meteor shower".
    • "The Most Brutal Ant: The Slaver Ant Polyergus" begins with, "Everything changed when the Slaver Nation attacked."
    • In Three Ways to Destroy The Universe, the Death Star can be seen after the creature throws the ball into space.
    • In Unlimited Resources From Space — Asteroid Mining, A TIE Fighter flies by the probe after it's launched. Pit droids can also be seen on an asteroid later in the video.
    • At one point in What Do Alien Civilizations Look Like? The Kardashev Scale, human and alien radio dishes can be seen. The humans are transmitting in Morse code, while the aliens in Aurebesh.
    • "Lofty cloud cities" is mentioned at the beginning of "How To Terraform Venus (Quickly)", as the screen shows a top-down view of Cloud City architecture and zooming cloud cars.
    • In "Why Aliens Might Already Be On Their Way To Us", the Earth's timeline of the formation of life is compared to that of LV-426 and Gallifrey.
    • In the short "Why is the Ocean Salty and Rivers are Not?", Wingull can be seen relaxing at the beach.
    • In "How to Win an Interstellar War", aliens have decided to blow up planet Earth because it's in the way of the route for their Hyperspace Bypass.
    • The thumbnail for "There Are Thousands of Alien Empires in The Milky Way" references a memetic scene from Toy Story 2.
  • Skewed Priorities:
    • In Rogue Earth, the stock market is apparently a primary concern rather than the more pressing concern of meteorites hammering the Earth.
    • In "What Happens if the Moon Crashes into Earth?", the narrator says the rising tides on Earth will cause chaos in shipping, slowing down the transport of Kurzgesagt products, and also of less important things such as food.
  • Sophisticated as Hell: "The Day the Dinosaurs Died", which describes the aftermath of the asteroid impact that caused the K-Pg extinction, is narrated fairly seriously, but for the "debris yeeted into space" halfway through.
  • Space Elevator: Whether one could exist in real life is the subject of one of their videos. It's doable but requires a lot of materials and luck.
  • Square-Cube Law: Discussed in "The Size of Life", which explains how growing or shrinking an organism would affect them realistically. Included in the explanation is a demonstration of sizing up using a fleshy cube.
  • Stellar Station: In their video about the Stellar Engine, they bring up the Caplan Thruster; a hypothetical megastructure that can directly harvest the Sun's material in order to create thrust and move the Sun. Charged plasma is fed into the thruster via the Sun's magnetic loops with the help of a Dyson Swarm, where inside the engine, hydrogen and helium is fused to create two opposing jets. The outer jet simply acts as the main drive of propulsion, while the inner jet acts as a stabilizer to push the Sun itself and to prevent the thruster from crashing into it. With the Caplan Thruster, it's possible to alter the Sun's orbit (and by extension, the whole Solar System) around the Milky Way Galaxy.
  • Straw Nihilist: In Real Life issues, videos are presented understandably in accord. When not serious in the discussion matter, some videos are demonstrated in a rather passive sadistic manner. Some of this involves the entire planet or you dead.
  • Stuff Blowing Up: Shows up in several of their videos, such as detonating a nuke at the bottom of the ocean, or blowing up the Earth with all of the nuclear material on it primarily because it's fun to blow things up in videos. However, this is given a massive reality check in "What if We Nuke a City?" where they do exactly that. When they were making the episode, they initially thought "lots of buildings are destroyed and people die." And as true as that is, they got hit hard when they discovered that it also leads to massive amounts of suffering for the people who don't immediately die, and a total collapse of civilization in the targeted city. On top of all this, there's the effect it would have on neighboring cities, with thousands or even millions of people needing evacuation & treatment, along with the massive destruction to infrastructure, there's no way people outside the blast zone would be able to effectively help, leading to even more deaths. Basically, it leads to a Class 0 apocalypse in the affected city. Definitely not fun.
  • Surprisingly Happy Ending: Well, more of a Surprisingly Bittersweet Ending, but What if the Moon Crashes into Earth? doesn't have the downer ending one would expect. Because the moon's orbit is decaying rather than falling straight to Earth, once it hits the Roche Limit, the Moon is disintegrated and forms a ring system. Sure, a lot of people still died because of the tidal forces causing apocalyptic events, but having the planet survive even in tatters is still better than the Moon slamming into the Earth and causing an Earth-Shattering Kaboom.
  • Take That!:
    • Facebook's doppelgänger is Buttbook.
    • The remake of "Time: The History & Future of Everything" calls the Tide POD Challenge, which involves eating bleach pods, an "absolutely smart idea".
    • In in video on the Kardashev scale, the narrator at one point talks about human signals decaying into unrecognizable nonsense that couldn't be traced to an intelligent species. The hologram in the video changes from a human to the Trollface.
  • Truck Driver's Gear Change: Among the multiple instances of modulation in the soundtrack for "The Most Horrible Parasite: Brain Eating Amoeba" (as the situation gets increasingly dire for the infected) is a semitone shift up between the "symptoms appear" and the "symptoms get serious" sections of the video.
  • Very Special Episode:
    • Went out of their way to crunch out a video on the Coronavirus, what it does, and what can be done to prevent its spread and why doing so is so important. Notable in that they previously said that their videos tend to take months or even years to be completed, but they decided that this was important enough to churn out the video in a matter of weeks.
    • "What If We Nuke A City?" describes everything in painstaking detail, finishing with a speech about the immorality of nukes. One might expect another Black Humor type video involving Stuff Blowing Up, but there's only a tiny about of humor in this video, and most of what little there is qualifies as extremely dark humour.
  • Violation of Common Sense: In "The Deadliest Being on Planet Earth – The Bacteriophage", it's noted how counterintuitive it is that injecting the literal deadliest thing on earth* into humans could actually save millions of lives; this is due to Phages being a promising weapon against Antibiotic-Resistant Superbugs.
  • Wave-Motion Gun: Gamma Ray Bursts are essentially nodded as natural cosmic sniper shots fired from several cases of deaths of stars.
  • Wingdinglish: "There Are Thousands of Alien Empires in The Milky Way" features an alien-looking font for English, in which the various subheadings for the video are written; all letters but J, Q, and Z have been translated.
  • A World Half Full: Many videos have demonstrated a more optimistic and prosperous future. "Is War Over?" uses statistics to prove the decline of warfare since the mid 20th century, and how the 21st could mark the end of warfare.

 
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Human Exceptionalism

Kurzgesagt points out that robots would be at the mercy of the worst of humanity if they become intelligent. After all, there's no shortage of historical evidence of humans denying others' suffering to justify horrific actions.

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