Not exactly viral stuff: How to be successful with popular lectures

Duration: 14 minutes 41 seconds. 1 hour 3 minutes. 27 minutes 48 seconds. These numbers do probably not refer to successful YouTube clips. Or do they? In the first clip a scientist is fact-checking comments on nuclear energy posted by YouTube users. It received 11.000 views in 24 hours. The second one, a public lecture on emergence and evolution, had more than 70.000 views within a week. A video from the channels’ playlist »Von Aristoteles zur Stringtheorie« (English: From Aristotle to string theory) surpassed 100.000 views within two years. Or take this one about quantum mechanics, also 1 hour 3 minutes long: more than 1 million views!
 
By mid of October 2018 the German YouTube channel »Urknall, Weltall und das Leben« (Big Bang, Cosmos and Life), where these videos were published, welcomed its 100.000th subscriber. Until recently jointly operated by the Munich book publisher Komplett-Media and the astronomer and mathematician Josef Gaßner, the latter being editorially responsable, the channel is now owned by Gaßner alone.
 
»Since we passed a critical threshold of subscribers«, Gaßner says, »universities and institutes approach us asking whether they may publish some of their popular science lectures on our channel.« At the same time he observes, that his own popular lectures all over Germany now also attract a younger audience, many of them probably motivated by Gaßners appearances on YouTube.
 
Gaßner works as a freelance researcher at the University Observatory in Munich and as a lecturer at the Landshut University of Applied Sciences. His doctor father was Harald Lesch, famous astrophysicist in Munich, who is also known for many TV appearances. In the early days of the channel, Lesch had significantly contributed to the success of »Urknall, Weltall und das Leben«, which came to life as a marketing campaign accompanying the publication of Lesch’s and Gaßner’s book with the same title.
 
Now Gaßner uses the channel to reach a higher goal: »It is really a pity«, he says, »that all the public lectures that are held every day by experienced and knowledgeable people in front of maybe just a hundred people, are lost for the rest of the world.« On his channel some of these treasures are now available for everybody.

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