Showing the world how cool science is can be tough, but Youtube personality Nick Uhas has mastered the formula.
You gotta blow stuff up.
On his Youtube channel Nickipedia, Uhas has explored scientific concepts and chemical reactions in ways that are approachable, fun and engaging – and should not be done at home.
He has demonstrated the effects of Sulfur Hexafloride on the human voice (spoiler alert: It makes you sound like a monster). He shows us what happens when you add soapy Hydrogen Peroxide to Potassium Iodide (another spoiler: SO. MUCH. FOAM.). But he really shines when he making things explode.
His fun experiments got him on the radar of shows like “The Today Show,” where he is a frequent guest and then on “America’s Got Talent,” where his Season 12 audition left the judges jaws hanging when he basically blew up Howie Mandel.
This week Uhas brings his scientific road show to the Frost Science Museum at Late @ Frost, an afterhours event for science geeks to really let their hair down. We caught up with him before his trip to Miami.
How did you become so enthusiastic about science?
It was my sixth grade teacher, Mr. Wilson. He took us on a field trip to Big Darby Creek. We went to collect water samples on that one field trip. And then I started to notice that science was everywhere. From that year on, I took education so much more seriously.
It seems like you like the part of science where things explode, create fire and react immediately.
I think the coolest part about the type of science that I do is that it’s demonstrable. You get to see science in action. That part of it really resonates with people. It’s the same reason we go to movies. We don’t want to watch people talk for two hours . We want to see action. Anything that puts science in motion. And anything that allows me to bring that sixth grade experiment.
Tell us about your experience on America’s Got Talent?
After my fourth Today Show experiment, out of the blue a girl called from America’s Got Talent and told me to submit for the show. I waited all the way till the deadline. And they were like, “Congratulations, we want to work with you.”
The first time I did it, I felt like I was really a part of the show. The judges gave me four yeses. I was shocked. Knowing I had to do more science experiments, I had to challenge myself to come up with more stuff.
Howie Mandel looked pretty freaked out by the liquid nitrogen/boiling hot water experiment. What was his reaction?
A lot of the show has to do with getting a reaction from the judges. He was shocked and awed by how big of a cloud it made. You’re taking water and you’re going hot to cold and you end up with a giant vapor cloud. It’s really just a water cloud, it’s harmless.
How much Sulfur Hexafloride have you inhaled in your career as a science communicator and does it have any adverse affects on your brain?
I should probably start doing some blood tests. I think it’s as prevalent as helium, but anyone who tries it for the first time is totally blown away. It’s so bizarre to have your voice go lower instead of higher. The gas is so dense that you feel it coming out of your lungs. The best reaction was Willy Geist on The Today Show. It was a golden moment.
Since America’s Got Talent, we’ve had a lot of requests. I didn’t think people would want to have this show at different venues. I did the show for Warner Bros for the 10th anniversary of The Big Bang Theory. People love the show because it’s interactive. Instead of just sitting back and watching, you have a science show where you have to be a part of it.