Playlist: YouTube channels

Vsauce

Tackling scientific and philosophical questions in a cheerful and engaging way, Vsauce (which now comprises three channels) answers questions both big and irreverent: "What if everyone jumped at once?", "Will we ever run out of music?" and "Why don't we taxidermy humans?" are all approached with the kind of detailed response usually reserved for for more pressing issues.

Yet despite the science being often quite technical, the explanation is delivered in a way that even a layman can understand.

Watch Vsauce now

TestTube

TestTube offers quick but detailed examinations of current geopolitical trends with historical and sociological explanations. That may sound dull, but somehow it isn't - and it's certainly a good way of getting your head around the topic of the day.

There's plenty here to ensure you'll learn enough to impress your peers next time you find yourself discussing the roots of ISIS or the size of the Greek debt. TestTube will certainly help you understand the world's problems a bit better – though you may decide ignorance is bliss.

Watch TestTube now

Deep Look

At less than a year old, Deep Look is a new kid on the YouTube channel block, but its first 'season' of videos have been brilliant.

The idea of the channel is to explore big scientific concepts by starting very small: examining some of nature's most unusual critters and what we can learn from them. Hummingbirds in wind tunnels, newt canoodling and the sea otter's incredibly warm fur coat... all uploaded in incredible 4K to reproduce every detail in stunning quality.

Watch Deep Look now

ZeFrank1

If you like your knowledge with more humour and flippancy, then ZeFrank is the man for you. In particular, his "true facts" series about animals is informative and hilarious. Figuring out which bits are true and which are jokes is part of the fun – but usually pretty obvious.

Zefrank has given TED Talks about the internet and online comedy, and he really knows his stuff in both. BuzzFeed recognised this and hired him as exec VP video in 2012.

Watch ZeFrank1 now

Mental Floss

The video channel of American fact and trivia magazine Mental Floss doesn't disappoint, offering lists, answers to big questions and corrected misconceptions in short bite-size chunks.

Our pick is "big questions" – where else are you going to find out why humans have no mating season, how they make decaffeinated coffee and the origin of the high five? Well Google, we guess, but it won't make the answer half as entertaining.

Watch Mental Floss now 

NewTube: three channels for finding YouTube oddities

PetitTube

Everyone knows the viral video that got millions of hits, but spare a thought for the little guy. PetitTube shows you a random video that's never been watched. Will it be great? Most likely, no – but it's fascinating all the same.

Utab

Want to know the chords for something playing on YouTube? Utab will try and help. Its clever algorithm will listen to the music for 20 seconds and then pull in play-along tabs and even lyrics if it finds them.

YTTM

Feeling nostalgic? YTTM pulls video from the year of your choice, going all the way back to 1860, with one claiming to document the "first sound ever recorded". You can filter by type for sports, games or even commercials.

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