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 […]

DISCONNECTED with Jaiden Animations, Ellen Rose and Hank Green

I invited Jaiden, Ellen and Hank to play a trivia quiz! The sort of quiz where you can get away with wrong answers… if nobody spots them. And since they couldn’t be there in person, I’ve got a massive virtual set. Too many wrong answers, and our players will be Disconnected. AD: White Light provided […]

The Part Of Britain That Rises And Falls Twice A Day

Cornwall rises and falls by a few centimetres, twice a day. I didn’t believe that when I read it. In this video: “ocean tide loading”: why, how, and does it actually matter? Thanks to Prof. Peter Clarke, who is a professor of geodesy, not geodisy. Apologies for the typo! https://www.staff.ncl.ac.uk/peter.clarke/ References: Francis and Mazzega (1990), […]

Why You Should Turn On Two Factor Authentication

The short answer is: “because it’ll make things more secure”. The long answer involves Ronald Reagan. • 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 Filmed at the Centre for Computing History, Cambridge: http://www.computinghistory.org.uk/ Their current fundraiser: https://www.justgiving.com/campaign/computermuseum Image of Dr Corbató courtesy MIT CSAIL, […]

For 21 Years, No-One In Britain Knew How Long An Inch Was

In 1834, Parliament burned down, and the Standards of Measurement were melted or destroyed. So when there’s no agreed-upon standard for length: how do you fix it? Also: how you can still publicly check the length of your sandwich. Filmed safely: https://www.tomscott.com/safe/ There’s a correction to this video: the fraction on screen at 00:49 should […]

The Village That The Luftwaffe Bombed By Mistake

Linby is a small village in Nottinghamshire, England. It wouldn’t have much strategic value… unless some commander didn’t read their map properly. Here’s a local legend, with a few questions about it. Edited by Michelle Martin https://twitter.com/mrsmmartin Thanks to historian Maureen Newton, to this transcription of the HO 203 National Archives database: http://www.warstateandsociety.com/Bombing-Britain – and […]

A Million Dollars vs A Billion Dollars, Visualized: A Road Trip

There are lots of ways to compare a million to a billion, but most of them use volume. And I think that’s a mistake, because volume just isn’t something the human brain is great at. So instead, here’s the difference between a million and a billion, in a more one-dimensional way: distance. REFERENCES: Humphrey Yang’s […]

Why You Can Spot Bad Green Screen

Green screen looks terrible sometimes. Here’s why. • Get a 30-day free trial of CuriosityStream, including access to Nebula and my original series, here: https://curiositystream.com/tomscott Animated by William Marler: https://wmad.co.uk Sound mix by Graham Haerther: https://haerther.net 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 64,182 People About “Jingle Bells, Batman Smells”. Here’s What I Found Out.

Thanks to Jack from Jacksfilms on piano: https://youtube.com/jacksfilms • And thanks to everyone who answered! Sources and a data download are in the description. History sources: https://www.cracked.com/blog/the-secret-true-history-jingle-bells-batman-smells/ https://www.cbr.com/jingle-bells-batman-smells-secret-origin/ Data spreadsheet link: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1bVUdszCBsWn5ez9FPFCioirdyNeZu3ctvNYShExpTQo Audio mix by Graham Haerther: https://haerther.net 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 World’s First Internet Bench

In the Abbey Gardens of Bury St Edmunds, in a quiet corner of a park, sits the World’s First Internet Bench. Well, sort of. It’s been nearly twenty years, and it’s arguable whether it ever did the job in the first place… Edited by Michelle Martin, https://twitter.com/mrsmmartin SOURCES: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/1475654.stm https://www.theregister.com/2001/08/10/vandals_and_phreakers_plague_msn/ Archive images courtesy Andrew Parsons […]

How England’s Oldest Road Was Nearly Lost Forever

The Icknield Way, in south-east England, is a road and footpath that’s been part of the landscape for millennia. But if parts of it hadn’t been legally marked down, then those parts would have become private land, gone forever. Who has the right to walk where? The Ramblers’ Don’t Lose Your Way project: https://www.ramblers.org.uk/dontloseyourway/ “Stories […]

The Worst Typo I Ever Made

When ‘undo’ won’t do. • Sponsored by Dashlane, the password manager. Get a 30-day free trial at https://www.dashlane.com/tomscott • 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 Audio mix by Graham Haerther https://haerther.net/ 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

Ə: The Most Common Vowel in English

“Schwa” is the most common vowel in English. Every English speaker uses it, all the time, but most people have never heard of it. • Written with Molly Ruhl and Gretchen McCulloch. Gretchen’s podcast Lingthusiasm is at http://lingthusiasm.com/ Gretchen’s book BECAUSE INTERNET, all about the evolution of internet language, is available: 🇺🇸 US: https://amzn.to/30tLpjT 🇨🇦 […]

Why Some “Remastered” Music Videos Look Awful

This isn’t “the way they were meant to be seen”. • Get a 30-day free trial of CuriosityStream, including access to Nebula and my original series, here: https://curiositystream.com/tomscott When YouTube allowed music labels to “remaster” their original uploads, different videos had very different approaches. Some are in crystal-clear 4K; others are very definitely not. Here’s […]

Are There Problems That Computers Can’t Solve?

All about Hilbert’s Decision Problem, Turing’s solution, and a machine that vanishes in a puff of logic. 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 Audio mix by Graham Haerther https://haerther.net/ 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 Hidden Rules of Conversation

Gricean Maxims are a vital part of how we understand each other: a set of… well, maybe “rules” is a bit strong. They’re guidelines that we follow without realising it. And it’s the reason that “asbestos-free cereal” sounds suspicious. Written with Molly Ruhl and Gretchen McCulloch. Gretchen’s podcast Lingthusiasm is at http://lingthusiasm.com/ Gretchen’s book BECAUSE […]

Why This British Crossroads Is So Dangerous

Ipley Cross, in the middle of the New Forest, is one of the most dangerous road junctions in Britain. Why? • Thanks to Bez, whoever you are: their definitive article on this junction is here: https://singletrackworld.com/2018/01/collision-course-why-this-type-of-road-junction-will-keep-killing-cyclists/ Edited by Michelle Martin https://twitter.com/mrsmmartin Graphics by Mat Hill https://mat-hill.com ADDITIONAL SOURCES: Injured cyclist prompts fresh calls to tackle […]

Why You Can’t Name A File CON In Windows

The short answer is “backwards compatibility”. The long answer is… well, it’s the rest of this video. MORE BASICS: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL96C35uN7xGLLeET0dOWaKHkAlPsrkcha Written by Sean M Elliott and Tom Scott Graphics by William Marler https://wmad.co.uk Audio mix by Graham Haerther https://haerther.net/ 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

Abso-b████y-lutely: Expletive Infixation

There are rules in the English language that you’ve probably never been taught, but you know anyway: how to split apart words with “infixes”. But you’ve never been taught it because some of those infixes are words you probably shouldn’t use in front of your high school English teachers… Written with Molly Ruhl and Gretchen […]

YouTube’s Copyright System Isn’t Broken. The World’s Is.

No copyright infringement intended. | Watch Money, my new Nebula Original series, with a 30-day free trial of CuriosityStream: https://curiositystream.com/tomscott WRITTEN BY: Tom Scott SCRIPT ASSISTANT: Andrea Marks CAMERA: Jamie Drew CAMERA: Joe Stone AUDIO MIX: Graham Haerther EDITOR: Isla McTear CAPTIONS: Caption+ WITH THANKS TO: 1901 Arts Club The Camera Museum, Soho Evan Edinger […]

Inside The Billion-Euro Nuclear Reactor That Was Never Switched On

Zwentendorf Nuclear Power Plant, in Austria, was ready to go: it just needed starting up. But that never happened, and forty years later, it still sits mothballed. Here’s why. Thanks to all the EVN team: you can find information on tours (in German) here: http://www.zwentendorf.com/ – and about EVN here: https://www.evn.at/EVN-Group/Energie-Zukunft/EVN-Fuhrungsangebot/Zwentendorf.aspx Camera by Matt Gray: […]

Why You Can’t Buy Dasani Water in Britain

Coca-Cola’s brand of bottled water, Dasani, was a flop in the UK after the public realised it was just filtered tap water. But the story’s a bit more complicated than it might seem. | Drinking Dasani with Ashens: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c6VhcpwFZJM Thanks to Sally Le Page on camera! https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC9AUeAvdEVJfyS9rd9pvp8g I’m at https://tomscott.com on Twitter at https://twitter.com/tomscott on […]

Stopping A Laser Beam In Mid-Air

Lasers travel at the speed of light. You can’t stop one in mid-air like Kylo Ren. Except: we just did. Here’s how. • Seb’s video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8YONOexk0Ek • https://seblee.me/ Lasers by Seb Lee-Delisle, assisted by Abby Shum Camera by Matt Gray https://youtube.com/mattgrayyes Edited by Michelle Martin https://twitter.com/mrsmmartin Graphics by William Marler https://wmad.co.uk I’m at https://tomscott.com on […]

The Sentences Computers Can’t Understand, But Humans Can

The Winograd schema is a language test for intelligent computers. So far, they’re not doing well. MORE LANGUAGE FILES: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL96C35uN7xGLDEnHuhD7CTZES3KXFnwm0 Written with Gretchen McCulloch and Molly Ruhl. Gretchen’s podcast Lingthusiasm is at http://lingthusiasm.com/ – and Gretchen’s new book, BECAUSE INTERNET, is available: 🇺🇸 US: https://amzn.to/30tLpjT 🇨🇦 CA: https://amzn.to/2JsTYWH 🇬🇧 UK: https://amzn.to/31K8eRD (Those are affiliate links […]

Why The Dutch Headwind Cycling Championships Are Difficult And Amazing

About once a year, on the Oosterscheldekering barrier in the south of the Netherlands, there is NK Tegenwindfietsen: a bicycle race cycling into a headwind. This year it was 120km/h: this is why it’s so difficult, and also why it’s so brilliant. I’m at https://tomscott.com on Twitter at https://twitter.com/tomscott on Facebook at https://facebook.com/tomscott and on […]

Why TRUE + TRUE = 2: Data Types

INT, BOOLEAN, STRING and FLOAT: these are the things that data is made of. • Sponsored by Dashlane — for free on your first device @ https://www.dashlane.com/tomscott MORE BASICS: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL96C35uN7xGLLeET0dOWaKHkAlPsrkcha Written by Sean M Elliott and Tom Scott Directed by Tomek Graphics by Mooviemakers https://www.mooviemakers.co.uk/ Audio mix by Haerther Productions https://haerther.net/ I’m at https://tomscott.com on […]

How To Grow A Martian Salad On Earth

Subscribe to Aspect Science! https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCyi06SeKkiwoAzFVmQtDtfg or start with Tom’s video on what would happen if a meteoroid hit an Apollo astronaut: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ll8izWe9nqk “12kg of Martian soil simulant” is a pretty good guest video pitch. This week, Tom from Aspect Science tries to grow a salad in Martian soil.

How Neurosurgeons Navigate Inside The Brain

Go subscribe to Brainbook! https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCnbPqck6c4yydPKVK0Faf6w or start with Alex’s video on a day in the life of a neurosurgeon on call: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8RXEaAjpt4Q The brain is a mass of neurons, but some areas are more important than others. How can surgeons navigate inside the brain? How do they know exactly where to operate, and what to […]