|Genre||Educational film, popular science, educational entertainment|
|Updated November 24, 2018|
Tim Blais is a Canadian science communicator. He explains scientific topics via writing and performing a capella parodies of popular music which he records and posts on his YouTube channel, A Capella Science.
Early life and education
Blais was born in Hudson, Quebec, Canada. Blais states that he comes from an "incredibly musical" family. His mother leads a church choir; Blais joined the choir when he was three. He also plays drums, piano, and stringed instruments including guitar. Blais graduated from McGill University in 2011 with a Bachelor of Science degree. In 2013, he earned a master's degree in high-energy theoretical physics with honors from McGill.
Blais created his first parody video in 2012, motivated by a desire to help people understand the world around them. He states that creating parody videos with a factual science theme came out of being fascinated by science, music (particularly a capella), and parody. He was inspired by "Weird Al" Yankovic, Bill Nye, Mike Tompkins, and Vi Hart. He was also inspired by the group The Maccabeats, an a cappella group that sings parodies of songs with replacement lyrics about Jewish themes. Blais has had an a cappella singing experience with Vancouver's Acapocalypse group.
Blais' first video parody was "Rolling in the Higgs", based on Adele's "Rolling in the Deep". The video was one of a handful of musical creations that followed the 2012 announcement of the discovery of a boson particle with Higgs-like characteristics. Blais' YouTube video generated over 17,000 hits in its first five days and had almost 800 thousand views as of April 2017. The video took Blais 60 hours to complete. Blais' second video, "Bohemian Gravity," parodied Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody" to explain string theory. The video features a sock puppet portraying Albert Einstein. The work attracted the attention of Brian May, Queen's guitarist (who also holds a PhD degree in astrophysics), and May posted the video on his website.
Blais' YouTube channel has covered such topics as entropic time, exoplanets, and the discovery of insulin as a treatment for diabetes. Blais has collaborated with Dianna Cowern and others. Although Blais' career in science includes previous employment at the TRIUMF particle accelerator center in Vancouver, Canada, Blais makes a living from creating his videos, being supported by advertising revenue, sales of mp3s and posters, and contributions from fans via the Patreon website.
Blais also does public talks which include performances of his creations and as well as discussions of science culture and his experiences as a science graduate student and an artist in new media. In 2014, he was an artist-in-residence with the National Music Centre in Alberta, during which he experimented with new sounds and recorded tracks for an album. In 2015, he appeared on Canada's reality television program, Canada's Smartest Person, in which he won his episode but lost in the season finale.
- Suen, Fan-Yee (September 28, 2013). "Bohemian Gravity: Canadian grad student uses music to explain string theory". ctvnews.ca. Retrieved November 23, 2018.
- Hunter, Colin (March 9, 2016). "Watch this singer's super-catchy explanation of gravitational waves". insidetheperimeter.ca. Retrieved November 23, 2018.
- Mortillaro, Nicole (September 17, 2013). "Video: Using 'Bohemian Rhapsody' to explain the universe". globalnews.ca. Retrieved November 24, 2018.
- Palus, Shannon. "Making a living on YouTube". McGillnews.mcgill.ca. Retrieved November 24, 2018.
- "Physicist Tim Blais pays musical tribute to New Horizons, Pluto". ca.news.yahoo.com. July 13, 2015. Retrieved November 23, 2018.
- Yang, Ethan (September 17, 2012). "Tim Blais on 'A Capella Science'". McGilldaily.com. Retrieved November 23, 2018.
- "An evening with A Capella Science's Tim Blais". dailyhive.com. Retrieved November 23, 2018.
- "Physikalische Einheiten im Song". Sueddeutsche.de (in German). August 27, 2012. Retrieved November 27, 2018.
- "Higgs boson-inspired parody provides musical spin". arabnews.com. Agence France Presse. August 26, 2012. Retrieved November 23, 2018.
- Boyle, Alan (November 2, 2015). "Mamma mia! 'Bohemian Gravity' turns string theory into a viral video". nbcnews.com. Retrieved November 24, 2018.
- "A Capella Science". youtube.com. Retrieved November 25, 2018.
- Jardin, Lauren (January 21, 2017). "String theory + a capella: A Montrealer's formula for online fame". cbc.ca. Retrieved November 24, 2018.
- "NMC Artist in Residence", nmc.ca, retrieved November 23, 2018
- "Tim Blais NMC Artist in Residence", nmc.ca, retrieved November 23, 2018