The world’s last turntable ferry has a really clever design

In Glenelg, on the west coast of Scotland, there’s the Skye Ferry: the last turntable ferry in the world. And the reason for that turntable is a lot more clever than I initially thought. Thanks to all the team at the Skye Ferry! https://skyeferry.co.uk Editor: Michelle Martin (@mrsmmartin) Graphics: William Marler https://wmad.co.uk Location fixer: Vikki […]

The Accidental Rush for Anthrax Island

Gruinard Island, in the north-west of Scotland, was where Britain tested its biological weapons. That story’s been told many times: but I found something in the archives that I don’t think anyone’s ever noticed before. Thanks to the boat crew and voice artists! Location fixer: Vikki McCraw at Locations 365 http://www.locations365.co.uk/ SOURCES from the National […]

The Long-Forgotten History of the British Moon Spacesuit

Decades before NASA’s Apollo program, the British Interplanetary Society wanted to go to the moon: in a spacesuit that looked like a suit of armour. Thanks to all the team at the National Space Centre: https://spacecentre.co.uk/ And to the British Interplanetary Society for their archive images: https://www.bis-space.com/ Drone filming by special permission of the National […]

I promise this story about microwaves is interesting.

I found an article that said “The microwave was invented to heat hamsters humanely in 1950s experiments.” And I thought, no it wasn’t. …was it? Pull down the description for thorough references and credits. Thanks to James Lovelock for his time! His latest book is Novacene: https://amzn.to/3hmKsWz [that is, of course, an Amazon affiliate link] […]

The Beach Where Lego Keeps Washing Up

Perranporth Beach, in Cornwall, is famed for being the “Lego beach”. The truth is more complicated. • Thanks to Tracey Williams! 📸 Lego Lost At Sea: https://instagram.com/legolostatsea or https://twitter.com/legolostatsea 📕 Her photo book ADRIFT: https://amzn.to/3a8glNW [aff. link] Edited by Michelle Martin (@mrsmmartin) Sound mix by Graham Haerther I’m at https://tomscott.com on Twitter at https://twitter.com/tomscott on […]

Taking The Emergency Exit From A Wind Turbine

Wind turbines have emergency exits, but they might not be for the reason you think. • Thanks to Octopus Energy: https://octopus.energy/octopus-fan-club/ (This video isn’t sponsored, but obviously they did let me go up their wind turbine.) Drone camera: Tom Francone Edited by Michelle Martin (@mrsmmartin) Thanks very much to all the team at Octopus Energy […]

England’s Oldest Attraction Turns Teddy Bears To Stone

In Knaresborough, in Yorkshire, sits Mother Shipton’s Cave. Folks there have been charging admission for nearly 400 years, and the star of the show is a “petrifying well”. A few folk legends do actually turn out to be true. Mother Shipton’s Cave: https://www.mothershipton.co.uk/ – thanks to all the team there, and especially to John! Edited […]

I asked an AI for video ideas for other YouTubers. It went badly.

GPT-3: not quite up to the task. Yet. • ElectroBOOM: https://youtube.com/electroboom • Answer in Progress: https://youtube.com/answerinprogress • hbomberguy: https://youtube.com/hbomberguy • MrBeast: https://youtube.com/mrbeast6000 Includes text generated by OpenAI’s GPT-3 at my request: https://openai.com • OpenAI had no control or sign-off on this video, although I agreed to abide by their ethical guidelines and social media policy. […]

What Color Is My Hoodie?

Grey? Blue? Purple? It can look different, depending on the context. Let’s talk about color perception, color temperature, and the history of laundry. Atmospheric opacity image from ESA/Hubble (F. Granato): https://www.eso.org/public/images/atm_opacity/ – image licensed under CC by 4.0 – https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/ The optical illusion is original, but based on the work of David Novick: https://twitter.com/novickprof/status/1139342022551191553 More […]

The Difference Between High Explosives and Low Explosives

I didn’t even realise that “low explosives” were a thing; let’s talk about deflagration, detonation, and how high explosives can actually be safer. • Thanks to Steve from Live Action FX: http://liveactionfx.com/ Filmed safely: https://www.tomscott.com/safe/ Camera: Simon Temple http://templefreelance.co.uk Edited by Michelle Martin: https://twitter.com/mrsmmartin I’m at https://tomscott.com on Twitter at https://twitter.com/tomscott on Facebook at https://facebook.com/tomscott […]

Why Shakespeare Could Never Have Been French

Shakespeare sounds a certain way. Why? And why could it only work in English? • Written with Gretchen McCulloch of Lingthusiasm! Her podcast has an episode about how translators approach texts: https://lingthusiasm.com/post/632086691477323776/lingthusiasm-episode-49-how-translators-approach Gretchen’s book BECAUSE INTERNET, all about the evolution of internet language, is available: 🇺🇸 US: https://amzn.to/30tLpjT 🇨🇦 CA: https://amzn.to/2JsTYWH 🇬🇧 UK: https://amzn.to/31K8eRD (Those […]

Why No-One Will Save Covehithe, The Village That Will Soon Crumble Into The Sea

On the south-east coast of England sits Covehithe: a little Sussex village going back at least a thousand years. By the end of the century, it’ll likely have fallen into the sea. Here’s why no-one’s planning to save it. Filmed safely: https://www.tomscott.com/safe/ SOURCES: Shoreline Management Plans: https://www.eastsuffolk.gov.uk/environment/coastal-management/shoreline-management-plans/ http://www.suffolksmp2.org.uk/actionplan/docs/2.%20Kessingland%20to%20Covehithe.pdf https://web.archive.org/web/20140221104223/http://www.suffolksmp2.org.uk/publicdocuments/finalsmp/Section%204_Policy%20Development%20Zones/PDZ2v9.pdf Article: https://web.archive.org/web/20160913051551/http://www.edp24.co.uk/news/environment/covehithe_landowner_raises_fears_over_coastal_defence_proposals_1_1111983 I’m at https://tomscott.com on […]

Why Real Explosions Don’t Look Like Movie Explosions

Explosions on film are made to look good: fireballs and flame. In reality, though, they’re a bit disappointing. Here’s how Hollywood does it. • Produced with an experienced, professional pyrotechnician. Do not attempt. Thanks to Steve from Live Action FX: http://liveactionfx.com/ Filmed safely: https://www.tomscott.com/safe/ Camera: Simon Temple http://templefreelance.co.uk Edited by Michelle Martin: https://twitter.com/mrsmmartin I’m at […]

Why Progress Bars Don’t Move Smoothly ▓▓▓░░░░░░

4 minutes remaining. Then 15 seconds. Then 5 hours. Why can’t computers just tell you how long something’s going to take? • MORE BASICS: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL96C35uN7xGLLeET0dOWaKHkAlPsrkcha Written with Sean Elliott https://twitter.com/SeanMElliott/ • Graphics by William Marler https://wmad.co.uk I’m at https://tomscott.com on Twitter at https://twitter.com/tomscott on Facebook at https://facebook.com/tomscott and on Instagram as tomscottgo

I asked an AI for video ideas, and they were actually good

I didn’t expect this to work so well. • Includes text generated by OpenAI’s GPT-3 at my request: https://openai.com • Art by Chris Quay: https://www.chrisquay.com/ • Got an idea for a video? https://www.tomscott.com/contact/ Filmed safely: https://www.tomscott.com/safe/ OpenAI had no control or sign-off on this video, although I agreed to abide by their ethical guidelines and […]

YouTubers have to declare ads. Why doesn’t anyone else?

Around the world, there are regulations for “influencers”. Those regulations make sure that if someone is paid to endorse a product, they have to declare that payment to the people watching. But why does no-one on TV, or film, or anywhere else have to do that? 👥👥 CREDITS 👥👥 Written and performed by TOM SCOTT […]

Hill Hill Hill Hill, debunked, debunked

Torpenhow Hill, in the Lake District in the north-west of England, is the only place in the world whose name has the same word four different times. That’s the story, anyway. The truth is a bit more complex. Filmed safely: https://www.tomscott.com/safe/ REFERENCES: The Debunking of Torpenhow Hill: http://digitalcommons.butler.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=4733&context=wordways Etymology from the Oxford English Dictionary https://oed.com […]

The Radioactive Beach In New York

Check out BrainCraft! https://www.youtube.com/braincraft – start with the Growth Mindset https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gxv_FHrRYQw or lucid dreaming https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b5qUr0enMGE • Deep in Brooklyn there’s a beach you definitely wouldn’t swim at, unless you’re an archaeologist. Dead Horse Bay served as an unofficial dump for decades, and now as the sand is washed away the boroughs’ history is slowly being […]

Trying To Create an AI Tom Scott (on a $100 budget)

Check out Jordan’s channel! https://youtube.com/jordanharrod – or start with her video on AI diagnosis of coughing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CqXcLF8vVH4 or how deepfakes have fingerprints: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4lnEst2nojA • And, please don’t try this at home. SOURCES: TEXT: Generated by Jordan Harrod using GPT-3 OpenAI, https://openai.com/blog/better-language-models/ AUDIO: https://resemble.ai VIDEO: https://arxiv.org/pdf/1908.05932.pdf https://arxiv.org/pdf/1712.05884.pdf https://arxiv.org/pdf/2006.07634.pdf https://arxiv.org/pdf/2008.11363.pdf https://arxiv.org/pdf/1811.08180.pdf https://www.vice.com/en/contributor/samantha-cole https://arxiv.org/pdf/1511.06434.pdf https://arxiv.org/pdf/2011.09055.pdf

Australia’s Bushfire-Hunting Satellites

Check out Atomic Frontier! https://youtube.com/atomicfrontieronline – start with the video on a country-sized telescope https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sZVcWJ0pFTc or the world’s deepest scuba dive https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s65T7ZHZp14 • Turns out that trying to precisely detect fire from space is more difficult than “point a camera at it”.

Trying To Fail A Drug Test On Purpose

Check out Trace’s channel! https://www.youtube.com/tracedominguez – start with brain-computer interfaces https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FPJDA9t3_m8 or going to space https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jndESKr4SpI • There’s an urban legend that poppy seeds can make you fail a drug test. Is it true? And if so: why? I ate a few bagels, and set out to flunk an opioid test. 👇👇👇 SOURCES and REFERENCES […]

How Weird Is My Audience? I Polled 15,408 People To Find Out

I asked my audience six questions: some sensible, some ridiculous. I compared their results to the public. And the results were… interesting. • Graphics by William Marler: https://wmad.co.uk and his Lungs Podcast: https://lungspodcast.co.uk Audio mix by Graham Haerther Owl photo credit: Amol Mende via Pexels https://www.pexels.com/photo/brown-and-white-owl-close-up-photography-2683982/ Distracted Boyfriend photo credit: Antonio Guillem via Shutterstock, used […]

The Greatest Title Sequence I’ve Ever Seen

Or: “Tom’s Cockup Trip”. This is a story about a television title sequence, and about me, as a child, watching it. It’s also a warning about how YouTube won’t last forever, and it’s the reason I’m climbing one particular hill in the Lake District. Merry Christmas, Denis Norden. DoP: Simon Handley from Skylark Aerial Photography […]

The Never-Used Road Where The BBC Crash Cars

There are lots of disused and never-used roads and bridges in the world. But the Road to Nowhere in Yate, in south-west England, does still sometimes have traffic driving on it. And crashing on it. History reference: https://www.gazetteseries.co.uk/news/14440281.mp-luke-hall-reveals-plan-to-finally-finish-incomplete-road-to-nowhere-in-yate-30-years-after-work-first-started/ Filmed safely: https://www.tomscott.com/safe/ I’m at https://tomscott.com on Twitter at https://twitter.com/tomscott on Facebook at https://facebook.com/tomscott and on Instagram […]

How Many Languages Are There?

The answer is, of course, a bit more complicated than you might think. • Written with Molly Ruhl and Gretchen McCulloch. Gretchen’s podcast has an episode all about this: https://lingthusiasm.com/post/154520059101/lingthusiasm-episode-1-speaking-a-single-language Gretchen’s book BECAUSE INTERNET, all about the evolution of internet language, is available: 🇺🇸 US: https://amzn.to/30tLpjT 🇨🇦 CA: https://amzn.to/2JsTYWH 🇬🇧 UK: https://amzn.to/31K8eRD (Those are affiliate […]

Why The Web Is Such A Mess

Tim Berners-Lee envisioned a “universal information system”. What went wrong? • MORE BASICS: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL96C35uN7xGLLeET0dOWaKHkAlPsrkcha Written with Sean Elliott https://twitter.com/SeanMElliott/ • Camera by Tomek • Graphics by William Marler https://wmad.co.uk I’m at https://tomscott.com on Twitter at https://twitter.com/tomscott on Facebook at https://facebook.com/tomscott and on Instagram as tomscottgo

I Almost Learned To Fly A Jetpack

Gravity Industries make jetpacks. They’re not practical. They’re not meant for mass use. But they are a lot of fun. They asked if I wanted to try flying one. Thanks to https://gravity.co/ – this is not sponsored but, obviously, they did give me a flight in a jetpack. Gravity’s YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCkHr2Z0JWH8KGmQNDp4QXLw Pilot Sam landing […]

Five Things You Can’t Do On British Television

Pull down this description for information on all the shows I mention, plus all my references, and some advice if you’re looking to subtitle your videos! 🔤🔤 SUBTITLES 🔤🔤 15% of my viewers watch with subtitles! They’re helpful for folks without headphones, or in loud environments, or who can’t hear well, or who just like […]

The Pumps That Must Run Forever, Or Part Of Germany Floods

The Ruhr Valley, in north-west Germany, is an industrial coal-mining area. And because of that kilometre-deep mining, parts of it have sunk, the drainage patterns have changed: and now, if the pumps of Emschergenossenschaft ever stop, quite a few towns and cities will end up flooded. Filmed safely in September 2020: https://www.tomscott.com/safe/ REFERENCES: https://www.derwesten.de/region/rhein-und-ruhr/wenn-die-pumpen-stillstaenden-id12358775.html https://fxreflects.blogspot.com/2008/12/ruhr-valley-secrets-richard-serras.html […]

My Unlicensed Hovercraft Bar Is Technically Legal

If you want to sell alcohol in England, you need a license. But the Licensing Act 2003 has some unusual exceptions. • Thanks to Marc and the team from the Axceler-8 Hovercraft Centre: http://hovercraftcentre.co.uk/ • Behind the scenes: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UQXqkBiqRCI Licensing Act 2003: https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2003/17/contents Filmed safely: https://www.tomscott.com/safe/ Camera: Matt Gray https://mattg.co.uk Logistics and original idea: Jonty […]

It’s pronounced GIF.

Is there a “right” way to pronounce it? And why is it so complicated? • Written with Molly Ruhl and Gretchen McCulloch. Gretchen’s podcast has an episode all about this: https://lingthusiasm.com/post/180153994181/lingthusiasm-episode-26-why-do-c-and-g-come-in Gretchen’s book BECAUSE INTERNET, all about the evolution of internet language, is available: 🇺🇸 US: https://amzn.to/30tLpjT 🇨🇦 CA: https://amzn.to/2JsTYWH 🇬🇧 UK: https://amzn.to/31K8eRD (Those are […]

The Theme Park Inside An Old Nuclear Power Plant

Wunderland Kalkar, near the German-Dutch border, is a family amusement park… inside a nuclear power plant that was never turned on. Thanks to all the team at the park! Their web site is at https://www.wunderlandkalkar.eu/en The video from Zwentendorf: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WUVZbBBHrI4 Edited by Michelle Martin (@mrsmmartin) Filmed safely: https://www.tomscott.com/safe/ I’m at https://tomscott.com on Twitter at https://twitter.com/tomscott […]

We Built A Lie-Detector Skeleton From 1927

Happy October. Thanks to Daniel, Tom, and Chloe, their channels are below! • Get CuriosityStream + Nebula and my Original for just $2.99/month here: https://curiositystream.com/tomscott Thanks to Charles Yarnold who built the Crime-Solving Skeleton: he’s a creative technologist who can build all sorts of odd things! https://charlesyarnold.co.uk/ Thanks to the three folks who faced the […]

How Binary Search Makes Computers Much, Much Faster

Featuring binary versus linear search, and non-clustered indexes. Uh, indices. However you want to say it. • MORE BASICS: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL96C35uN7xGLLeET0dOWaKHkAlPsrkcha Written with Sean Elliott https://twitter.com/SeanMElliott/ • Camera by Tomek • Graphics by William Marler https://wmad.co.uk I’m at https://tomscott.com on Twitter at https://twitter.com/tomscott on Facebook at https://facebook.com/tomscott and on Instagram as tomscottgo

The Tiny Monorails That Once Carried James Bond

The Roadmachines Mono-Rail may have been the only truly useful, fit-for-purpose monorail in the world. Of the hundreds that were built, most were never meant for passengers. But they did carry a couple of famous people in their time, including a certain secret agent… Thank you to the staff and volunteers at the Amberley Museum […]

Would You Swim In Power Plant Wastewater?

Normally, the answer would be no. But in these very limited circumstances, at Iceland’s Blue Lagoon, you can swim in geothermal power plant wastewater, and it’s even healthy: although the marketing material doesn’t usually mention it. Here’s a story about geothermal energy, cheap heat, and how to keep some ducks warm. Sources: https://www.c40.org/case_studies/the-worlds-largest-geothermal-heating-system-saves-up-to-4m-tons-co2-annually https://www.verkis.com/projects/utilities/water-supply-systems/nr/982 https://nea.is/geothermal/direct-utilization/heat-pumps/ […]

1,204,986 Votes Decided: What Is The Best Thing?

Sometimes, you regret asking a question. • Win your Ultimate Tech Bundle by entering Fasthosts’ Techie Test here: https://www.fasthosts.co.uk/tomscott Thanks to Graham Haerther for the main audio mix, and for recovering the terrible sound in my echo-filled flat! (For the folks asking: I’m not planning to release the ranked list — partly because “ranked list […]

DISCONNECTED: The Champion of Champions Grand Final

The three players who’ve already won come back to the tower for one final battle. One of them will leave the Champion of Champions: and two will be Disconnected. AD: White Light provided the SmartStage studio facilities and crew! You can find out more about their technology here: https://tinyurl.com/y7dxo2gz And disguise connected up all the […]

Swimming Between Two Continents, Debunked

Silfra, in Þingvellir National Park in Iceland, is where the Eurasian and North American continental plates are dividing. It’s a crack in the earth where you can snorkel or dive between the continents. Well, sort of. As ever, it’s a bit more complicated than that. Þingvellir geology: https://www.thingvellir.is/en/history-nature/nature/geologic-history/ https://notendur.hi.is/oi/geology_of_thingvellir.htm Þingvellir history: https://www.thingvellir.is/en/history-nature/history/ An interoduction to […]

DISCONNECTED with Vanessa from Braincraft, Kati Morton and Jarvis Johnson

Vanessa, Kati and Jarvis are the final three players on the broadcast tower, playing a quiz where if you bluff well enough, you don’t even need to know the answers. AD: White Light provided the SmartStage studio facilities and crew! You can find out more about their technology here: https://tinyurl.com/y7dxo2gz And disguise connected up all […]

Which Is “Bouba”, and Which Is “Kiki”?

Sooner or later, I was going to get around to this: it’s one of the most famous experiments in linguistics. • Written with Molly Ruhl and Gretchen McCulloch. Gretchen’s podcast has an episode all about this: https://lingthusiasm.com/post/175127434871/lingthusiasm-episode-21-what-words-sound-spiky Gretchen’s book BECAUSE INTERNET, all about the evolution of internet language, is available: 🇺🇸 US: https://amzn.to/30tLpjT 🇨🇦 CA: […]

DISCONNECTED with Alec of Technology Connections, Sally Le Page, and Arun from mrwhosetheboss

Alec, Sally and Arun join me at the top of the virtual tower for a game where it doesn’t matter if you’re wrong… as long as no-one calls you on it. AD: White Light provided the SmartStage studio facilities and crew! You can find out more about their technology here: https://tinyurl.com/y7dxo2gz And disguise connected up […]