Kurzgesagt is a Munich-based studio of designers, artists, musicians, and scientists who create videos explaining complicated topics through simple animations. Founded in 2012 by Philipp Dettmer & Stephan Rether, Kurzgesagt–German for “in a nutshell”–has released about two dozen videos explaining everything from Ebola, to ISIS, to the history of the solar system. “We love science, minimalism, colors, and music,” the founding duo write on their website. “But most of all combining them to tell stories.”
A recent video, entitled, “What Is Life? Is Death Real?” fascinatingly dissects the difference between living and nonliving things, and ends up failing to come to a definitive conclusion. With vivid, minimal animations and narration, their video discusses the paradox that living beings are made of cells, yet cells are made of nonliving parts.
They touch on relevant examples like viruses, which act a lot like living things but aren’t considered alive. Mitochondria are an even stranger example: these powerhouses of cells used to be their own organisms before forming a symbiotic relationship with cells and “becoming dead.” But viruses and mitochondria both still have their own DNA.
As they point out, since “life” is merely made up of dead chemicals replicating, what is it that makes us alive, and separates us from other matter? Who’s to say that digital AIs shouldn’t be recognized as equally living beings? Kurzgesagt’s video gives us no answers, but they sure provide a lot to think about, all while being a hell of a lot more entertaining than your high school biology teacher.