Tim Blais

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Tim Blais
Personal information
Born
Quebec, Canada
NationalityCanadian
YouTube information
Channel
Years active2012–present
GenreEducational film, popular science, educational entertainment
Subscribers265,947
Total views16,678,711
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[edit]

Blais was born in Hudson, Quebec, Canada. Blais states that he comes from an "incredibly musical" family.[1] His mother leads a church choir; Blais joined the choir when he was three.[2] He also plays drums, piano, and stringed instruments including guitar.[3] Blais graduated from McGill University in 2011 with a Bachelor of Science degree.[4] In 2013, he earned a master's degree in high-energy theoretical physics with honors[3] from McGill.[5]

Career[edit]

Blais created his first parody video in 2012, motivated by a desire to help people understand the world around them.[3] He states that creating parody videos with a factual science theme came out of being fascinated by science, music (particularly a capella), and parody.[3] He was inspired by "Weird Al" Yankovic, Bill Nye, Mike Tompkins, and Vi Hart.[6] He was also inspired by the group The Maccabeats, an a cappella group that sings parodies of songs with replacement lyrics about Jewish themes.[3] Blais has had an a cappella singing experience with Vancouver's Acapocalypse group.[7]

In his solo videos, Blais performs all the tracks with his own voice, sometimes beat-boxing and creating brass sound effects.[5] Most videos take a few hundred hours to complete.[4]

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[8] and had almost 800 thousand views as of April 2017.[7] The video took Blais 60 hours to complete.[9] Blais' second video, "Bohemian Gravity," parodied Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody" to explain string theory. The video features a sock puppet portraying Albert Einstein.[10] 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.[1]

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.[11] Although Blais' career in science includes previous employment at the TRIUMF particle accelerator center in Vancouver, Canada,[6] Blais makes a living from creating his videos,[2] being supported by advertising revenue, sales of mp3s and posters, and contributions from fans via the Patreon website.[12]

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.[7] In 2014, he was an artist-in-residence with the National Music Centre in Alberta,[13] during which he experimented with new sounds and recorded tracks for an album.[14] In 2015, he appeared on Canada's reality television program, Canada's Smartest Person,[2] in which he won his episode but lost in the season finale.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Suen, Fan-Yee (September 28, 2013). "Bohemian Gravity: Canadian grad student uses music to explain string theory". ctvnews.ca. Retrieved November 23, 2018.
  2. ^ a b c Hunter, Colin (March 9, 2016). "Watch this singer's super-catchy explanation of gravitational waves". insidetheperimeter.ca. Retrieved November 23, 2018.
  3. ^ a b c d e Mortillaro, Nicole (September 17, 2013). "Video: Using 'Bohemian Rhapsody' to explain the universe". globalnews.ca. Retrieved November 24, 2018.
  4. ^ a b Palus, Shannon. "Making a living on YouTube". McGillnews.mcgill.ca. Retrieved November 24, 2018.
  5. ^ a b "Physicist Tim Blais pays musical tribute to New Horizons, Pluto". ca.news.yahoo.com. July 13, 2015. Retrieved November 23, 2018.
  6. ^ a b Yang, Ethan (September 17, 2012). "Tim Blais on 'A Capella Science'". McGilldaily.com. Retrieved November 23, 2018.
  7. ^ a b c "An evening with A Capella Science's Tim Blais". dailyhive.com. Retrieved November 23, 2018.
  8. ^ "Physikalische Einheiten im Song". Sueddeutsche.de (in German). August 27, 2012. Retrieved November 27, 2018.
  9. ^ "Higgs boson-inspired parody provides musical spin". arabnews.com. Agence France Presse. August 26, 2012. Retrieved November 23, 2018.
  10. ^ Boyle, Alan (November 2, 2015). "Mamma mia! 'Bohemian Gravity' turns string theory into a viral video". nbcnews.com. Retrieved November 24, 2018.
  11. ^ "A Capella Science". youtube.com. Retrieved November 25, 2018.
  12. ^ Jardin, Lauren (January 21, 2017). "String theory + a capella: A Montrealer's formula for online fame". cbc.ca. Retrieved November 24, 2018.
  13. ^ "NMC Artist in Residence", nmc.ca, retrieved November 23, 2018
  14. ^ "Tim Blais NMC Artist in Residence", nmc.ca, retrieved November 23, 2018