Documentaries speak the truth and show a reality that one cannot experience in a feature film. And, when the subject of a documentary is science, it becomes more critical to get the facts right and bring in expert opinions. It takes quite long for a documentary to be made as it takes time to get the content assembled from all the people needed to put in their views into the subject. The significance of documentaries has now reached greater heights to the point that best documentary works are recognized at prestigious award ceremonies around the globe.
Science documentaries have a lot more to offer, as they are meant to be a source of knowledge. Moreover, itis a medium for hundreds of researchers out there to let the world know where it’s heading how science is paving new pathways for creativity and exploration. Thanks to YouTube, we are now just a search away from such content and can access it on our phones whenever, wherever we want.
Here is a list of best YouTube documentaries, you can watch that explores concepts of science in one or another way. From space research to the exploits of digital technology, these best science documentaries would open up new horizons of knowledge and information for you.
Best Science Documentaries On YouTube
Based on the accounts of Edward Snowden and his attempts to expose NSA’s secret surveillance program, ‘Citizenfour’ is the best documentary on YouTube overall, let alone the best science documentary you’ll ever come across. Filmed by Laura Poitras, it covers exclusive interview sessions Snowden gave to Poitras and accompanying investigative journalists Glen Greenwald and Ewen MacAskill, who later helped Snowden uncover his findings via a series of articles in The Guardian.
This YouTube science documentary also focuses on Snowden’s efforts to dodge the United States authorities until he was given asylum in Russia. The documentary is in a pure sense – “a slap on United States’ security agencies.” Winner of the prestigious Academy Award as well as a BAFTA for Best Documentary Feature (2015), this YouTube science-cum-thriller documentary is a must-watch.
The feature film ‘Snowden,’ based on Edward Snowden’s life was released in 2016 with Joseph Gordon-Levitt portraying Snowden. The film is partly inspired by the specific events depicted in ‘Citizenfour.’
2. The Age of A.I.
This is one of the latest YouTube science documentaries created under the YouTube Originals banner. It explores how A.I. is shaping the present and our future through the perspective of some of the best innovators and scientists. This 8-part YouTube science documentary is shot as a web-series and offers expert opinion on A.I.’s role in multiple sectors, including medical research, robotics, space exploration, and search of alien life.
What makes it one of the best science documentaries on YouTube is that it is produced and hosted by award-winning actor Robert Downey Jr. Robert is famous for his role as Tony Stark, a legendary innovator who has mastered artificial intelligence in his fictional world.
3. The Internet’s Own Boy
Another science documentary on YouTube, which deals with digital activism, ‘The Internet’s Own Boy,’ is the story of Aaron Swartz. Swartz was a young internet activist, who since his teens, had been advocating open and free internet resources. Co-founder of the famous social platform, Reddit, Swartz was a researcher at Harvard when he downloaded exclusively academic journals from his Harvard account for JSTOR [Journal Storage].
He was later charged with wire fraud and other internet crimes, which would have led to a 35 years prison sentence. Swartz committed suicide when he faced these charges. The amount of judicial pressure and the intensity of punishment on Swartz is often criticized as he had already surrendered and paid settlement fees for his actions six months prior to his arrest.
The film focuses on this debate while exploring Aaron’s life based on the accounts from his close ones who have been interviewed for the film. Rated 93% at Rotten Tomatoes, this is one of the best YouTube documentaries.
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If you are into space research or maybe just fascinated with the topic, then this is the best documentary on YouTube you’ll come across. Released in 2010, Hubble explores the efforts of American space shuttle missions tasked with the maintenance of Hubble Telescope. The famous YouTube science documentary is also known for its stills and graphics of deep space galaxies, the narration regarding NASA’s decades of research and space missions, and for taking viewers through some amazing virtual celestial experiences.
Since it’s shot and viewed in IMAX 3D, the immersive experience adds up to the critical acclaim of the film. Plus, it gained massive publicity over the fact it was narrated by famous actor Leonardo DiCaprio. The documentary was included as one of the features in the itinerary of academic visits to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida and Johnson Space Center in Houston.
5. A Brief History of Time
This is probably one of the oldest science documentaries on YouTube you can watch. This famous science documentary derives its title from the book of the same name, written by Sir Stephen Hawking. The film explores Hawking’s life through voices and interviews of Hawking’s families and the colleagues he has worked with, whereas the book is Hawking’s attempt to explain deep space secrets and impart an understanding of cosmology.
‘A Brief History of Time’ is available on YouTube, but there is a certain compromise one has to make in the resolution quality. Rated 93% at Rotten Tomatoes, it’s one of the best science documentaries on YouTube to try out.
6. Elon Musk: The Real-Life Iron Man
Exploring years of dedication to one of the greatest inventors towards science and innovation, this is one of the best YouTube documentaries, which will take you deeper into visionary Elon Musk’s life. Beginning from his childhood in South Africa and his student years, the film takes you through the foundation of Elon Musk’s most ambitious projects after his stint with PayPal and how he got inclined towards assistive technology and space research.
There are special segments covering how things work in Musk’s companies, such as Tesla and Hyperloop projects, along with discussing Musk’s long-lasting ambition to colonize Mars. The way it showcases the impact of Musk’s powerful visions and his work on achieving collective sustainability is just mesmerizing. A worth watching science documentary on YouTube.
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7. The Most Unknown
‘The Most Unknown’ is more of scientific exploration than a film. This YouTube documentary is an experiment, where nine scientists are put together in different scenarios to share their expertise and knowledge, thus putting up several scientific collaborations. The nine scientists take on projects that they haven’t tackled before and come together to answer questions they couldn’t have alone.
It’s basically a reminder that how foundations of scientific research can be established if knowledge is shared and how science can tell a perfect story of new discoveries and uncovering of hidden science. Currently, ‘The Most Unknown’ can be watched in its entirety on YouTube for free.
8. The Enemies of Reason by Richard Dawkins
The Enemies of Reason is a two-part science documentary on YouTube written and presented by Richard Dawkins. Richard Dawkins is an evolutionary biologist and is best known for his open advocacy of atheism and criticism of the superstitions of religion.
In the first part of ‘The Enemies of Reason,’ Dawkins takes on superstitions claimed to be scientific, such as psychokinesis and mediumship, and tends to prove how these concepts are just evidence-less assertions. There are other subjects of pseudoscience such as Dowsing, which Dawkins discusses and bash them off as baseless.
In the second part of this YouTube documentary, Dawkins focuses on medical research only. He discusses how different alternative medicinal streams are not making a notable impact on the improvisation of health services. He also discards various vaccines for diseases like measles and mumps, which has failed to decrease the number of such cases among the British child population.
The whole point of the documentary is that for any scientific research and finding, there has to be a valid and authentic reason else that particular research is nothing but a practical waste.
‘Home’ is a multilingual narrative science documentary on YouTube that showcases how humanity is threatening ecological balance. Most of the film comprise aerial shots of various locations on the planet that display how humans have exploited natural resources and have left parts of the world without any.
The film is narrated in multiple languages, with the English version being narrated by actress Glenn Close. Besides, Salma Hayek narrates the Spanish version. Despite the message the film sends, it has been criticized as it also glorifies the legacy of Kering, a French luxury brand who financed the film under its public relations strategy.
These documentaries explore multiple streams of science. We witness the wonders of A.I., the potential of scientific collaborations, concepts of cosmology and space exploration, and expert innovators changing the world, and the distress caused by the internet. By watching these terrific YouTube documentaries on science, you’ll be subjected to a whole new experience of streaming content and will take you off your binge-watching stretches.
Take Note: These documentaries are not original productions of YouTube besides (The Age of A.I.) and are uploaded on YouTube by different individuals or broadcasting corporate channels. Since they had been released to the public a while ago, they are left on YouTube without being subjected to infringement policies. We do not endorse any of the channels which have uploaded these films, and they may, in the future, be taken down.
So, it’s time you get your hands on them as soon as you can.
All these science documentaries on YouTube are available for free. Check them all out and experience some of the finest non-fiction work. And let us know which one you liked the most. Hit the comments section to drop more suggestions on the best science documentaries on YouTube, which we can watch.