Guelph grads go viral while demystifying science for millions
Popular video-sharing site YouTube is shown in this undated image. (AFP Photo/Nicholas Kamm)
Michael Oliveira, The Canadian Press
Published Wednesday, January 15, 2014 2:49PM EST
TORONTO -- Twenty-five-year-old University of Guelph grads Gregory Brown and Mitchell Moffit left school and started their professional lives with a goal of demystifying science for as many people as possible.
They've already succeeded far beyond their wildest dreams.
It was about a year and a half ago that Brown and Moffit launched the YouTube channel AsapScience, with a video entitled "How to SEE or HEAR the Big Bang."
Neither appear on screen in the quick two-minute video, which is narrated by Moffit and illustrated by Brown with simple drawings on a dry-erase whiteboard.
AsapScience's videos weren't an overnight sensation, but soon enough, web lessons explaining the science behind overeating, weight loss, orgasms, blushing, flatulence, pornography addiction and sleeping started going viral.
"(We wanted to) reach people who might think they're not interested in science but if they really knew some of the cool stuff that was actually integrated in their own lives, maybe they'd find it interesting. So it kind of grew out of the idea of wanting to share the awesome things we had learned," said Moffit. "Trick them into learning science."
AsapScience has now racked up more than 177 million views and has more than two million subscribers, which is more than Drake and just short of Britney Spears and Jennifer Lopez.
And soon their science lessons will be seen on TV. CBC asked the duo to produce a series of sports-related videos that will air daily during the Olympics, as well as being posted to their YouTube channel.
The videos will look and sound just as they do on YouTube, with Moffit explaining the science as Brown sketches out the lesson.
"Part of the reason we think AsapScience has done so well is because it kind of stripped out the personality in a way, it became only about the topic or the subject and you didn't have to worry about who was talking to you," said Moffit.
"And with the whiteboard we're trying to make it less scary," added Brown.
"People are scared of science, it's hard. But it's fascinating, it's fun, it's totally not those things it has the (bad) reputation of being."
What started as a hobby turned into full-time work for the duo, who have hired their first staffer to help run their rapidly growing operation, based out of their Toronto home.
"It's amazing how you don't need that much to create a following like we've created," said Moffit.
"I remember hitting 10 million views and being like, 'Oh my God, that's so insane, it's just so crazy, but we'll never hit 100 million.' And now we're almost at 200 million."
Their most popular video to date -- with more than 14 million views in about a year -- examines the age-old question of which came first, the chicken or the egg?
"It kind of goes back to the roots of most of our questions, these things that are a bit quirky but everyone's always like, 'Is there actually a scientific answer to that? Because if there is, I want to know it."'
If there's one question that fans most want answered, it's about the mysterious phenomenon of deja vu.
"Hopefully we'll get to that video eventually," Moffit said.