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Destin Sandlin

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Destin Sandlin
Destin sandlin.jpg
Sandlin in 2014
Born Destin Wilson Sandlin[1]
1981 (age 36–37)
Residence Huntsville, Alabama
Nationality American
Alma mater University of Alabama
University of Alabama, Huntsville[1]
Occupation Rocket engineer
YouTube personality
Known for Educational YouTube videos[2]
Spouse(s) Tara Sandlin
Children 4

Destin Sandlin (born 1981) is an American engineer best known for his educational video series Smarter Every Day (SED),[3][4] which is hosted on a YouTube channel of the same name launched in 2007.

Sandlin's YouTube channel garners over 5 million subscribers and over 425 million views. In early 2016, Sandlin was one of three YouTube personalities chosen to conduct a one-on-one interview with then-president Barack Obama[5] after his final State of the Union address.[6] The interviews were sponsored by Google and were part of a White House initiative to reach Millennial audiences.

On April 28, 2016, Sandlin started a second YouTube channel called The Sound Traveler, in which he employs 3D audio and GoPro footage to capture and convey the experience of visiting the world's most interesting places.

On February 10, 2017 Sandlin started a podcast with his friend, Matt Whitman, called No Dumb Questions, in which the two discuss an assortment of topics and cover it from different perspectives.[7]

YouTube Encyclopedic

  • 1/3
    17 161 233
    401 076
    12 738
  • The Backwards Brain Bicycle - Smarter Every Day 133
  • Operation Rocket - Smarter Every Day 39
  • TEDxYouth@Huntsville - Destin - See the World Differently, Get Smarter Every Day


Hey it's me Destin. Welcome back to Smarter Every Day. You've heard people say, "It's just like riding a bike" meaning it's really easy and you can't forget how to do it, right? But I did something. I did something that damaged my mind. It happened on the streets of Amsterdam and I got really scared honestly. I can't ride a bike like you can anymore. Before I show you the video of what happened I need to tell you the back story. Like many six year olds with a MacGyver mullet I learned how to ride a bike when I was really young. I had learned a life skill and I was really proud of it. Everything changed though when my friend Barney called me 25 years later. Where I work, the welders are geniuses, and they like to play jokes on the engineers. He had a challenge for me. He had built a special bicycle and he wanted me to try to ride it. He had only changed one thing. When you turn the handlebar to the left, the wheel goes to the right. When you turn it to the right, the wheel goes to the left. I thought this would be easy so I hopped on the bike ready to demonstrate how quickly I could conquer this. - And here he is ladies and gentlemen, Mr Destin Sandlin. First attempt riding the bicycle. - Yeah, yeah. I couldn't do it. You can see that I'm laughing but I'm actually really frustrated. In this moment I had a really deep revelation. My thinking was in a rut. This bike revealed a very deep truth to me. I had the knowledge of how to operate the bike, but I did not have the understanding. Therefore, knowledge is not understanding. Look I know what you're probably thinking. Destin's probably just an uncoordinated engineer and can't do it. But that's not the case at all. The algorithm that's associated with riding a bike, in your brain, is just that complicated. Think about it. Downwards force on the pedals, leaning your whole body, pulling and pushing the handlebars, gyroscopic procession in the wheels, every single force is part of this algorithm. And if you change any one part it affects the entire control system. I do not make definitive statements that often, but I'm telling you right now, you cannot ride this bicycle. You might think you can, but you can't. I know this because I'm often asked to speak at universities and conferences and I take the bike with me. It's always the same. People think they're gonna try some trick or they're just gonna power through it. It doesn't work. Your brain cannot handle this. For instance, this guy. I offered him two hundred dollars just to ride this bike ten feet across the stage. Everybody thought he could do it. [crowd exclaims] No no no. You didn't understand. So.. this way, not that way. [crowd laughs] Alright so, whenever you're ready. Remember you have to keep your feet on.. [crowd laughs] [laughing crowd] You've gotta start rolling at least. And go. Keep your feet on the pedal, go. [laughing crowd] Just keep your feet on the pedals. Alright, one more time. Once you have a rigid way of thinking in your head, sometimes you cannot change that, even if you want to. So here's what I did. It was a personal challenge. I stayed out here in this driveway and I practiced about 5 minutes every day. My neighbors made fun of me. I had many wrecks. But after 8 months, this happened. One day I couldn't ride the bike, and the next day I could. It was like I could feel some kind of pathway in my brain that was now unlocked. It was really weird though. It's like there's this trail in my brain, but if I wasn't paying close enough attention to it, my brain would easily lose that neural path and jump back onto the old road it was more familiar with. Any small distractions at all, like a cellphone ringing in my pocket, would instantly throw my brain back to the old control algorithm and I would wreck. But at least I could ride it. My son is the closest person to me genetically and he's been riding a normal bike for 3 years, that's over half his life. I wanted to know how long it would take him to learn how to ride a backwards bike so I told him if he learned how to ride a backwards bike he could go with me to Australia and meet a real astronaut. Are you gonna give up? - No. - Go ahead. This is how it starts. Look at this. This is such a big deal. Get up, you got it. Did you see his brain get it? So he, in.. How many weeks we been doing this? Two weeks? In two weeks he did something that took me 8 months to do, which demonstrates that a child has more neural plasticity, am I even saying that right? Than an adult. It's clear from this experiment that children have a much more plastic brain than adults. That's why the best time to learn a language is when you're a young child. Alright, today's bike log. I can ride smooth, I can ride fast. I'm thinking the experiment is over. OK now I'm in Amsterdam, a city that has more bicycles than people. The question is, can I ride a normal bike now. I mean I have spent all this time unlearning how to ride a bike, If I go back and try to ride a normal one will my brain mess up. So I've tweeted a Smarter Every Day.. meetup, if you will. And I'm gonna see if somebody brings a bicycle and I'm gonna try to ride a normal bike. It's backwards, it's backwards. This was one of the most frustrating moments of my life. I had ridden a normal bike since I was six, but in this moment I couldn't do it any more. I had set out to prove that I could free my brain from a cognitive bias, but at this point I'm pretty sure that all I've proved is that I can only re-designate that bias. So what you're not seeing is there's a group of people here, looking at me. Looking at the strange American, that can't ride a bike, cause they think I'm dumb. But I'm actually two levels deep into this, because I've learned and un-learned. Alright. After 20 minutes of making a fool out of myself, suddenly my brain clicked back into the old algorithm. I can't explain it, but it happened in a very specific moment. [laughter] I've got it, I've got it, I've got it. I'm back. Oh it clicked. It clicked. I've got it, I've got it. OK there it is. There was the moment. OK I can ride a bike. I tried to explain this to the people around me, and they just didn't get it. They thought I was faking the previous 20 minutes and I couldn't get anybody to believe me. That looked like I faked it, didn't it. You think I'm faking. You don't believe me. - It looked so weird... - You think I'm lying don't you. I'm not lying. I felt like the only person on the planet who had ever un-learned how to ride a bike, and I couldn't articulate it to anyone because everybody just knew that you can't forget how to ride a bike. So I learned 3 things from this experiment. I learned that welders are often smarter than engineers, I learned that knowledge does not equal understanding, and I learned that truth is truth. No matter what I think about it. So be very careful how you interpret things because you're looking at the world with a bias whether you think you are or not. I'm Destin, you're getting Smarter Every Day, have a good one. OK if you wanna support Smarter Every Day you can download a free audio book at I recommend Commander Hadfield's book which is An Astronaut's Guide to Life on Earth. I read it, it was awesome. If you think about it, I had to learn how to ride a different kind of bicycle and my son did it as well, but Commander Hadfield had to learn how to ride a different space ship. Not only that, but a different type of space station. He was on Mir and the International Space Station. Anyway, if you're interested in supporting Smarter Every Day,, An Astronaut's Guide to Life on Earth. I'm Destin, you're getting Smarter Every Day. Have a good one. [crowd cheers] Everything is wrong... My instinctive reaction is wrong. (Destin) Why don't you ride it? You just build it? - I can't ride it, I just build it. [laughs]



Sandlin has a B.S. in mechanical engineering from the University of Alabama and an M.S. in aerospace engineering from the University of Alabama in Huntsville.[1][8] While an undergraduate, he was awarded the University of Alabama's Outstanding Senior Award.[1] He is a full-time Missile Flight Test Engineer at Redstone Arsenal.[9][10]

A resident of Huntsville, Alabama,[11] Destin is married with four children (two daughters and two sons).[12] Since 2012 Sandlin has supported and partnered with 'Not Forgotten', a charity that cares for orphaned boys in Peru.[citation needed]

He credits his fascination with the scientific method and his job as a rocket engineer as inspiration for making educational videos.[citation needed]

Smarter Every Day

 Sandlin at Skepticon in November 2015.
Sandlin at Skepticon in November 2015.

Sandlin began posting educational videos in 2007, and his first video to reach one million views cleared that milestone on July 10, 2009.[13] The video was about chicken head tracking using chickens that Destin bought for his father as a demonstration. Because of its popularity that video retroactively had the Smarter Every Day label added to it. Mercedes-Benz capitalized on the popularity of this video with their "MAGIC BODY CONTROL TV commercial Chicken".[14]

Sandlin formally launched Smarter Every Day on Apr 24, 2011 with a video titled "Detonation vs Deflagration - Smarter Every Day 1,"[15] which became the title for subsequent videos and the sole focus of his YouTube channel.

Episodes of Smarter Every Day revolve around scientific exploration and discovery and feature Sandlin as host and narrator. Sandlin is fascinated by flight and space, and his Smarter Every Day video library reflects that. However, his videos explore a wide array of other topics including the effects of hypoxia on the human brain, the curiously sturdy Prince Rupert's drop, the physics of potato guns, and a nearly-impossible to ride bicycle that turns the opposite direction of its handle bars.[citation needed]

As of August 2017, the channel has over 5 million subscribers and over 390 million views.[16]

Channel Statistics

Channel Subscribers 5 000 000+
Total Channel Views 418 000 000+
# of videos with >1M views 80
# of videos with <1M and >500K views 37
Total # of videos 256



  1. ^ a b c d "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 2015-01-07. Retrieved 2015-01-07. 
  2. ^ "SmarterEveryDay". YouTube. Archived from the original on 2015-01-05. 
  3. ^ "Huntsville engineer's YouTube channel, 'Smarter Every Day,' in running for best entertaining, educational videos". Archived from the original on 2014-09-14. 
  4. ^ ""Smarter Every Day" teaches science lesson by blowing things up". 25 April 2011. Archived from the original on 14 September 2014. 
  5. ^ Martin, Rachel (January 17, 2016). "YouTube Star Talks Space With President Obama". NPR. Archived from the original on January 31, 2016. 
  6. ^ P. Claire Dodson (January 12, 2016). "Meet The YouTubers Interviewing President Obama After The State Of The Union Address". Fast Company. Archived from the original on February 1, 2016. 
  7. ^ "No Dumb Questions". iTunes. 14 February 2017. Archived from the original on 15 February 2017. 
  8. ^ "UAH - News". Archived from the original on 2015-01-08. 
  9. ^ "Huntsville missile engineer in YouTube spotlight for Smarter Every Day channel". Archived from the original on 2014-10-18. 
  10. ^ "Test engineer making people Smarter Every Day". The Redstone Rocket. 
  11. ^ 'Smarter Every Day' host Destin Sandlin to interview President Obama | Tech Alabama | Retrieved 2016-11-19.
  12. ^ Sandlin, Destin. "WE HAD A BABY!! - Smarter Every Day 132". YouTube. Archived from the original on 4 April 2015. Retrieved 1 April 2015. 
  13. ^ Sandlin, Destin. "Chicken Head Tracking - Smarter Every Day". YouTube. Archived from the original on 6 January 2015. Retrieved 7 January 2015. 
  14. ^ "Mercedes Benz TV MAGIC BODY CONTROL TV commercial Chicken". YouTube. Retrieved 7 September 2017. 
  15. ^ Sandlin, Destin. "Detonation vs Deflagration - Smarter Every Day 1". YouTube. Archived from the original on 16 December 2014. Retrieved 7 January 2015. 
  16. ^ "SmarterEveryDay". YouTube. Archived from the original on 2014-12-16. 
  17. ^ "About". SocialBlade. Archived from the original on 17 August 2017. Retrieved 17 June 2017. 
  18. ^ "Videos". YouTube. Archived from the original on 3 May 2015. Retrieved 15 March 2016. 

External links

This page was last edited on 10 February 2018, at 15:21.
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