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Web Video / Kurzgesagt

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You are not alone in the universe. You never were. You never will be.
"...when it comes to the exploration of the universe, there can't be too many dreams of a glorious future."

Kurzgesagt Information Design, better known as Kurzgesagt, is a Munich-based YouTube channel and corporation owned and created by Phillip Dettmer. Kurzgesagt is best well known for their series, In A Nutshell, in which they use animation, infographics, and narration to discuss scientific, historical, and cultural matters.

Though originally a small information design studio for various commercial clients, the unexpected popularity of their 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.


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.
  • Ancient Conspiracy: Do rich and powerful people ignore the imminent apocalypse? note 
  • The Anti-Nihilist: This is stated to be Kurzgesagt's official stance on existential issues, 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 Ants 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:
    • "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: ...which is 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.
  • Bland-Name Product: Buttbook.
  • Book-Ends: Several videos open and close with similar shots and scenes.
    • "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.
  • 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 and 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.
  • 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.
  • Cool Shades: Scientists get these, like Darwin and Einstein.
  • Designer Babies: The aptly titled "Designer Babies" discusses the potential for designer babies with CRISPR.
  • 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 (ie 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.
  • 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.
  • A Fate Worse Than Death:
    • The heat death of the universe, especially when the idea of a "Big Crunch" is brought to attention.
    • Vacuum decay.note 
  • 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.
  • For Science!:
    • What happens when a Black Hole a size of coin appeared near you? Short answer, You die. Long answer, it depends.
    • 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 (both die).
  • Genetic Engineering Is the New Nuke: CRISPR will bring about huge shift in medicine, from Designer Babies and immortality, to curing cancer.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • The Narrator: An omniscient narrator explains concepts in a nutshell.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: While use of antibiotics have eliminated many bacterial diseases, their overuse has led to the natural development of "superbugs".
  • Once an Episode: The TARDIS being hidden somewhere in each episode.
  • Playing Both Sides: 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 episde shows how we can use bacteriphages themselves against antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
  • Pull the Thread: One episode is based on this.
  • 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.
  • Scenery Porn: The animation is gorgeous, especially when they start talking about space stuff.
  • 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.
  • Something Completely Different: The videos about human origins and CRISPR are longer and structured in several parts.
  • 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". Included in the explanation is a demonstration of sizing up using a fleshy cube.
  • 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.
  • Take That!: Facebook's doppelgänger is Buttbook.
  • Violation of Common Sense: In "The Deadliest Being on Planet Earth – The Bacteriophage", it's noted how counterintuitive 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.
  • 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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