My Life Story


A question I get asked surprisingly often is, is Veritasium a real element? Nope, I made it up. *having fun* When I was a kid about 10 or 11 years old I went to this Genghis Khan exhibit at a museum, and I didn’t know much about Genghis Khan except he was some famous warrior who lived a long time ago So I was thinking maybe we’d see his mummified body or his suit of armor or his sword something like that But when I got to the museum all they had were like these tiny fragments of pottery, and some old shoes, and I was incredibly disappointed So in this video, I want to tell you my story but with real pieces of my life *4-year old Derek*: Hi! *4-year old Derek*: Hi! Real photons that bounced off my face hit a sensor, created a current that created a magnetic field – flipping some domains on magnetic tape which was later replayed, recreating the current, passed into a computer, digitized into zeros and ones, beamed to your device, which recreates the light that’s hitting your eyes right now *4-Year old Derek*: I’m waiting for you to take a picture *Derek’s Dad* : Of what? *4-Year old Derek*: Of me! Now there is a direct path of particles from my four-year-old face to yours right now and there is nothing you can do to undo that. I grew up in Vancouver Canada. So I’m mostly Canadian Mostly because my family was South African *Stereotypical South African Montage* After my parents got married they moved to Vancouver where my two older sisters were born But I was born in Australia And that’s because my dad was working there as an engineer at a pulp and paper mill at the time This is the first house where I ever lived I lived there for the first 18 months of my life Soon after my family returned to Canada and I guess I was a competitive kid Because I graduated top of my class and had a full scholarship to go and study engineering at Queen’s University The problem was I didn’t really want to be an engineer I wanted to be a filmmaker but, there isn’t a straightforward path to becoming a filmmaker like there is for Becoming an engineer or a doctor or a lawyer. Plus your chance of success at filmmaking is very low Especially in the year 2000 when your best bet is probably to become a PA and try to catch a break somewhere It didn’t feel like a meritocracy or like your life was in your own hands So, what did I do? Well, I did the smart thing. I took the scholarship and completed a degree in engineering physics *Friend*: It’s starting to get power *college Derek*: Winderrific You know some people seem to think it’s strange to have interests in both science and film, but to me They are both incredible ways of getting at the truth I mean film records everything exactly as it happens and it never changes so it’s like this perfect Observation so you can’t fool yourself later like about how I felt stifled by four years of engineering *Post engineering Derek*: I feel like I’ve been stifled by four years of engineering. Now while I was at college I did take a few film production courses as many as I could squeeze into my engineering timetable My final project was a film about someone who is really good at math, but really wants to be an artist *laughs* So that’s really painfully autobiographical I also made videos with my engineering friends, but they always wanted to do something with a gimmick, like vampires, ninjas, Bigfoot, pirates The videos weren’t very good and we didn’t even post them to YouTube. Why not? Well because YouTube didn’t exist yet so after the engineering degree I decided to move to Australia and go to film school see the Lonely Planet guide and the film school application on my desk *2004 Derek*: I’m leaving in five days, and I’ve done barely anything to get ready But once I got to Australia I figured I needed to get a job and get some film experience before I could make a decent application I mean they weren’t just gonna accept this Canadian engineer with some ridiculous videos; and on my sixth day in the country, I auditioned for and got a role in this play at the University of Sydney and then I started asking around about physics tutoring work and Within a couple weeks, I had enrolled in a PhD in the School of Physics *Derek doing PhD*: So it seems like a kind of funny place to be in given that I came here to do film but, after a short time I realized how much I still liked learning and how much I liked physics and I was hoping that I could meld the two, physics and film In a PhD about how to make films that actually teach physics. Now, I know that sounds incredibly relevant now But at the time it didn’t really satisfy either of my passions in physics or film I know because this is me the night the data first starts coming in from students watching videos that contain misconception *Derek doing PhD*I just think that you know including extra material that is wrong and stuff into multimedia segments is just something that no one’s ever gonna really put time and energy into and It’s never really gonna be worth much and that sort of pisses me off and I wish I was doing something a bit more practical After I got my PhD, I applied to the film school *Derek post Phd*: Now I feel like I’m ready to become an after student and got rejected. I got rejected again the next year I applied twice to the drama school, but never made it past callbacks I was looking for that well-defined path toward a creative career but failing at that I did the smart thing and I took a job as the head of science at a tutoring company where I’d been teaching during my PhD they were making motors and it was a great job I love the students and the other teachers and the flexibility. I had the pay was great and so at the end of 2010 my friends were a bit confused when I told them I was quitting full-time work to start a YouTube channel, but I guess I had reached a kind of breaking point I was 28 years old and I’d spent my whole life up to then building backup plans and doing the things that were most likely to succeed Engineering and a PhD and teaching and I wanted to make this shift It was like a shift in life philosophy towards pursuing Wholeheartedly the things that I felt to be true the things that I’d always told myself I wanted to do, the things I told myself I wanted to be, I wanted to aim for That and not just something that was safe a good strategic decision in the moment So is veritasium a real element? Well for me it was! it was that idea That I wanted to pursue things, I felt to be true Now you think that this would be the triumphant moment from which I’d never look back but the truth is it I wasn’t very good at making youtube videos *Derek teaching*: It attracts any object with mass Towards any other object with mass *I was stiff* an online science video blog *My presentation style was unnatural and the pacing was slow* Fiji water has been recommended to me by a friend for example the mass of the Sun *Present Derek*: Sometimes I think it’s a blessing not to know how bad you are because if I had known I probably would have quit But I didn’t and so I kept working at it and after a couple of years Well, I started making enough money on YouTube that I could stop doing all other work So YouTube became my main source of livelihood and from that point on I’ve done so many amazing things that I never could have imagined and the greatest adventure by far is one that I haven’t told you about but it’s when I moved to LA and met a girl and fell in love and *Derek*: Will you marry me? *laughs, happiness* *Mrs. Derek*: Yes! Yes! And here we are *Derek jr*: Fly drone! Gonna fly the drone gonna go outside Now my ability to do what I love every day is All thanks to you and I know that may sound cheesy but it is absolutely, true that Every video view and like and comment and share All of that great stuff is what has made veritasium and by extension my life possible. So Seriously, thank you. And I guess I owe a debt of gratitude to YouTube because they’ve made possible something that was unimaginable in the year 2000 when I graduated from From high school and it still didn’t exist in 2004 when I graduated from college and I think about the people who are currently in high school and college and I think well the job that you will have may not have been invented yet or You may invent it. So what is the point of my story is it to say if you follow your dreams anything is possible? Hardly, because I’m all too aware of the survivor bias That is if you look at the subset of people who are successful at a particular thing well, you’re kind of ignoring all the experience of the Many more people who did not manage to succeed So when I see actors talking about just you know, pursue your dreams and you can do anything It feels really wrong. Like there’s this statistical bias in it but at the same time I feel like there’s a paradox to the survivor bias because the one thing you know about the people who Survived are that they… attempted in the first place that they ignored the logical choice That, you know, survivor bias would have you believe never try something which is statistically unlikely They ignored that and they went for it anyway So I guess my advice is if there is something you feel you really want to do Then you should at least try it and accept that there is a very high probability of failure but better to try than the alternative where you face certain failure Now having kids definitely makes it harder to make videos *Pre-tantrum* Mainly because I want to spend all my time playing with them and not say, editing So thank you for being patient as the pace of video uploads has slowed to a crawl But you know having kids has also made me re-evaluate the types of videos I want to be making and what I want to be doing with my time, you know This idea of veritasium was an idea where I wanted to Focus on the things I really wanted to accomplish and go straight for those. I think that’s a decision You don’t just make once but you have to keep making and keep reevaluating and that’s what I’m doing Trying to decide exactly what I want to do next for veritasium if you’ve got any ideas leave them in the comments below and Thank you for sticking with me as this channel and I evolve

100 thoughts on “My Life Story

  1. Thanx for your videos and amount of knowledge you spread through them. Thanx for veritasium the element of wisdom . thanx For creating it.

  2. Thanks for making this and the rest of your videos. We too continue to grow and evolve as we watch and learn from your wonderful content! Keep at it, and keep doing you!

  3. I would like to make a distinction of scientist vs engineer. The engineer has to make it work. The scientist has to determine the data. Believe me as an engineer it takes specific work to make it happen. Scientists need engineers to make their plans come together.

  4. Interesting. Nice to know you in this video. Curious why you call it Veritasium?

  5. Hey Derek, as a long time viewer and Patreon, I love your science explanations and your human condition videos. I use both for teaching science and for teaching the International Baccalaureate's Theory of Knowledge course. I would love to see you continue with more of both genres. Start over with the concepts from the very beginning of your video-making career because those were good and needed ideas, but a refresh may make them stick more. Your presentation style on the many biases, heuristics, and logical fallacies would also be great. But please do spend time with your family. This time of precious innocence, curiosity, and giggles won't be around forever.

  6. Love your channel…content is great and presented in an entertaining way. I love science and physics, but will never get too far. Keep it up!

  7. Maybe it’s time to explore the veritas of humanity, not just physical world. The truth there is much harder to find.

  8. Haven’t you just produced the first “unity” of Veritasium just as you speak? It’s not complete yet. It probably doesn’t even have unity…. …..but hey, who would imagine today’s cellphones 20 years ago? So I dare to say, YES Veritasium does in fact exist, we just need to “polish the edges” a bit more, first. 👍

  9. I guess it is nice to have a backup (as in several degrees that actually worth something). There are some idiots in our neighborhood with 5M+ subs who could not flip burgers if their lives depended on them.

  10. Come To India🇮🇳and made some Videos.. You will be popular twice as you are..

  11. As an engineer, I absolutely love your channel and tell everyone to watch. I've been following for a while now but just came across this video. Honestly, at first I thought it was strange and egotistical for you to post a video on your life story. But after watching I really appreciate you sharing your story. Life is unpredictable. The paths we take aren't always the ones we choose, but the unpredictability of life is what makes it such an amazing adventure. Thank you so much for sharing and keep the videos rolling!

  12. I bet there is at least some demand for showing how to get young children into engineering, physics, and science at home without overwhelming them or making them hate it. Fund experiments or whatever it is. You have a kind of unique opportunity to do that. Lots of people do not know the best way of going about it and are afraid of pushing their kids away from science by accident by including too much of the dry stuff too early.

  13. Suggestion: explore philosophical topics that inch their way into popular culture and analyze them on a deeper level. Take chliché ideas such as existentialism and determinism and reveal their hidden beauty.

  14. Ur an alien
    Its the only explanation

    Ur a full time scientist that's actually somewhat attractive and not a complete loner.
    Unheard of

  15. You have found your niche my friend. I hope I find mine….. Take this from someone with my perspective. Someone who isn't familiar with you or your channel but interested in your content. Get rid of the Photoshoped professionally dressed picture of you used at the thumb image for this video & replace it with a real image of you. Had you made these videos when you were younger i wouldn't have watched them. Remember your image is part of your videos. Use that. Perhaps you should do a video on why the human mind translating physical facial impressions into personality traits. Its an interesting and depressing thing. We assume so much based on what facial expressions appear to be which in a large part depends on physical facial structure. I will add the importance of sound. You found your niche, not only in science and video but also in vision and sound. It all works together.

  16. It's surprising to find out that many of my fav YouTuber ever had some kind of association to Vancouver, Canada. Do feel proud. And appreciate ur science videos that have made impact on my life. Keep it up.

  17. This is a fascinating story! Thank you so much for sharing it!! I have found myself in a very similar position. I wanted to pursue filmmaking out of high school as well, but I ended up going into engineering because it felt like the safer option (Currently at Queen's too 😀 – Cha Geill). As I get closer to finishing my degree I feel like a have drifted farther and farther away from my passion, but it is refreshing to see that someone like you take that passion you once had and make something out of it. A bit of inspiration I guess. Looking forward to seeing what the future holds for you and your channel 🙂

  18. Your channel is among the few starting channels that I was compelled to subscribe just bcoz the great content you deliver

  19. Thank you for this video! I’m currently walking down the same logical road, doing things I don’t really know if I want to be doing in the future.. But it’s the safe bet. It feels good to know I’m not alone.

  20. To me you are South African. Both you and Elon musk were born in South Africa that to me is mind blowing. Two people i look up too

  21. Well okay. To be fair, HE HAS ALWAYS BEEN GOOD LOOKING. Like. Wow. And intelligent. And not many GOODLOOKING NERDS OUT THERE.
    — it’s just all the while I thought he had something Asian in his mix of good genetics.

  22. Make another channel kids science. I'll make my kids watch it and learn while having fun.

  23. What an amazing life story 😀 Thank you for sharing and keep making great videos !!

  24. Great story.. Congrats on your journey and success so far 👍

  25. This was the most beautiful and worthy video I have ever seen in a while. Derek, Thank You for sharing. You don't have the idea of how much of us you are helping. Once again, Thank You : – )

  26. I’m a new subscriber to Veritasium and your channel recommended to me via Vsauce. I just gotta day that the content that u create is some of the most interesting that I’ve seen. I like to learn something new everyday and I feel like I learn every time a watch one of your videos. Thank you.

  27. I treasure the physics videos, but your personal story is truly wonderful and inspiring!

  28. Hi this was a great video but what happened to your time working at NASA? I wanted to hear about that contribution you made to the Rover.

  29. I have been teaching physics and your videos are so explanatory, interesting and easy to understand for my students. Thanks a ton. Love from India.

  30. Truly inspiring! You made Veritasium a real element.
    Today, i felt the need of 'loved' button with 'like' and 'dislike' in youtube.
    Thanks for sharing your story.

  31. You have a remarkable ability to tell stories. You do a really good job of explaining complicated engineering subjects in a simple way. You should find amazing complicated stories and tell them to the world.

  32. Hi.. fan from India. Inspirational journey from kid to having kids.. i too belong to the section of the society whose dreams were shattered. But still doing physics though..
    Suggestion: how about something on superconducting energy storage? Maybe u can pay a visit to American Superconductor if you havent already.

  33. Wow. That is a lot of honesty. Thank you for telling us your story and thank you for making us look closely at and think about things we might never have noticed in the first place. 🙂

  34. I'm in grade 12 and I want you and your kid to explain me science when I'll be completing my PhD! In short, please dont ever leave us! We're physicsphiles and veritasiophiles too man! <3

  35. Try to apply your understanding of science in a productive way(like ELON MUSK).Make money ,and share your knowledge ,and waelth in scientific as well as humanitarian goals.I was thinking of ammonia production using solar panels(power)and removing lots of co2 for us all

  36. I'm a guy who works at YouTube (and lives in Sydney). I am so grateful there are channels like yours here Derek.

  37. I always wanted to watch the physics videos in which only truth is revealed. Now I have got your channel to subscribe.

  38. Thank you aswell, for never faltering and bringing knowledge-to the masses

  39. Thanks for you dude , I always was wondering about you that how someone can really interested physics and so good an engineering and all this scientific experiments. Now I know where it comes from . Usually bloggers are not good engineering or engineers not good how to film or explain things , but you got perfect match of them. All the best in your modern new type of career if i say …

  40. For content, maybe age appropriate science videos for children? You could do them for your children to test them out. I would like to share those with my grandchildren…

  41. Great video, love the peek into how you and your channel became to be. I wish you continued success and keep making those great videos!

  42. Thank you for sharing your roadmap. which shows the way to make something great. Please keep your journey, as it inspires other people to live and to contribute to the world, like you.

  43. All this career surfing to find a perfect job fit is great as long as the parents are willing to subsidize the process.

  44. I for one am glad you didn't quit. Looks like 6.2 million people agree with me!

  45. I feel a strong urge to start a channel about the physics of sound, and music arts, especially rock. Don't know how to match both, just some ideas and crazy interesting stuff about EM radiation, sound and Music.
    I just don't have a clue on how to get the money to start and keep going on because economical crisis in my country is getting worse and worse and worse.

    Really, is bad, very bad times.

    Among other things that screams to me ''NO, rejection is what you'd expect and being hungry and alone all the time''.
    But music is my passion, I love to teach, and Science is what made me understand finally, what Music and Sound really are at a quantum level, not only anthropologically.
    I have too much to say to the World, many things that many people don't want to face or talk about…and I'm not particularly able to talk about peaceful lies or entertaining stuff.

    Some physic professor told me about doing a podcast and he reinforcing the physic's side of the channel (me, music teaching), but those things are not so easy as it sounds. Gear, time, planning, and especially a good mental state of humor and energy are needed.

    The intro of this video is almost exactly the way I want to reveal what Music is for real. From the point of view of a musician herself, with a touch of crazy physics 🙂

  46. South African, Canadian and Australian… Sun never sets in your homeland!

  47. Get rid of that horrible beard! You'd look better, you have a cheerful face, sans beard 🙂

  48. Veritasium i would say you’ve taken that word from french vérité which means truth 😄

  49. https://philosophynow.org/issues/48/Henri_Bergson_and_the_Perception_of_Time this might be interesting

  50. Now we consider it as an element thanks to you and your inspirational videos!

  51. You have children now, so make science and physics videos that young children would be interested enough to want to watch, teach the younger generation what you know in a language you know they would understand 💛💜

  52. You're truly a genuine person. I love it. Life is hard but there's always a hope.

  53. Wow! I should have watched this before. I have used many of your videos to support my flipped classroom. Because of your grit and constant commitment to create better and better Science videos, we all can enjoy your high-quality videos. Thank you for you hard work Derek. Wish all the best thing in life for your family! Love from Indonesia!

  54. Wow 5:53 – Is he the DJ Kim of the Matrix Education?

    Did you teach there?

    LOL

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