The public toll road with no speed limit

The Nürburgring Nordschleife is the longest permanent racetrack in the world: 21km of unforgiving blind corners and hills, nicknamed “the Green Hell”. Oh, and some days, it’s also just a public toll road with no speed limit. More about the Ring: https://www.nuerburgring.de/en.html About “Touristenfahrten”, Tourist Drives: https://nuerburgring.de/driving/touristdrives Driver: Andy Gülden Camera: Moritz Janisch Producer: Marcel […]

Why this observatory fires lasers at satellites

NERC’s Space Geodesy Facility, hidden away in the English countryside, fires lasers at satellites. Because it turns out that knowing a satellite’s position exactly is really, really difficult. More about the Facility: http://sgf.rgo.ac.uk/ Thanks to Jay Dickieson for the suggestion! I’m at https://tomscott.com on Twitter at https://twitter.com/tomscott on Facebook at https://facebook.com/tomscott and on Instagram as […]

I took the world’s shortest flight. It was underwhelming.

The flight between Papa Westray and Westray takes 80-90 seconds and covers about 2km. Why does it exist? And what’s it like? On a rainy day in the Orkney Islands, I went to find out. Thanks to Sam from Wendover Productions! https://www.youtube.com/wendoverproductions I’m at https://tomscott.com on Twitter at https://twitter.com/tomscott on Facebook at https://facebook.com/tomscott and on […]

The Islands With Too Much Power

The Orkney Islands, off the northern tip of Scotland, have so much electricity that it’s actually a problem. Here’s why: and here’s what they’re doing about it. Kirkwall Pier drone shot by Colin Keldie, courtesy of EMEC: http://www.emec.org.uk/ O2 Turbine drone shot courtesy of Orbital Marine: https://www.orbitalmarine.com/ SOURCES: https://www.4coffshore.com/news/ofgem-extends-orkney-transmission-link-deadline-nid23512.html New renewable generation connections welcomed for […]

I helped cover a 5,000-year-old monument with worn-out tires

Ness of Brodgar, in Orkney, is one of the most important archaeological sites in western Europe. This week, it was covered by old, worn-out tires. Here’s why. ■ Thanks to the Ness team! More about them, volunteering, and donating: https://www.nessofbrodgar.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 […]

How one little boat (and me) held up miles of London traffic

Tower Bridge is a tourist attraction these days: but first and foremost, it’s a working, lifting bridge. And river traffic comes first. • Thanks to the Tower Bridge team: they have details of their tours here: https://www.towerbridge.org.uk/ Produced by: Cambria Bailey-Jones Edited by: Guy Larsen Camera: Jamie MacLeod 2nd Unit Camera: Jimmy Blake Drone Director: […]

The diving gondola: a strange elevator to the ocean floor

On the German coast of the Baltic Sea, there’s a tourist attraction that I think is very strange: the “Tauchgondel”, a room that sinks under the waves and lets you go diving… without getting wet. More about the Tauchgondel: https://www.tauchgondel.de/ Filmed safely: https://www.tomscott.com/safe/ Camera operator: Richard Bielau Production team: Klein Aber https://kleinaber.de/ Thanks to Letizia […]

I tried to film a volcano and it was a complete disaster

Iceland has a new volcano, Fagradalsfjall: I wanted to visit, to talk about the infrastructure around it, and work out how the country deals with a new and dangerous tourist attraction. It didn’t go well. Thanks to Bjorn Steinbekk, who I thoroughly recommend if you need a fixer or drone pilot in Iceland! https://www.steinbekk.com/ He’s […]

An Unedited, Rain-Soaked Ride on Claughton’s Aerial Ropeway

Here’s the full video from a camera attached to a bucket on the Claughton Aerial Ropeway! And here’s my whole video about the ropeway and its history: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6RiYXI1Tfu4 Thanks to all the team at Forterra: https://www.forterra.co.uk/ Filmed on a GoPro Hero 9 with Hypersmooth Boost enabled I’ve got a newsletter now! It goes out every […]

The UK’s last aerial ropeway uses no power, moves 300 tonnes a day, and will be gone by 2036.

In Claughton, Lancashire, the Forterra brickworks produces 50 million bricks a year, from shale that’s quarried a mile and a half away. To get that shale to the brickworks: the last aerial ropeway in the country. These used to be common: but now, the last one will be gone by 2036. Thanks to all the […]

How many robots does it take to run a grocery store?

In Ocado’s grocery warehouses, thousands of mechanical boxes move on the Hive. Are they all individual robots? Or is this one giant hive mind? • Thanks to Ocado: https://www.ocadogroup.com/technology/technology-pioneers (this video is not sponsored, and they had no editorial control). Reference: Strandwitz P. (2018). Neurotransmitter modulation by the gut microbiota. Brain research, 1693(Pt B), 128–133. […]

The Shocking New Use for Red Telephone Boxes

What do you do with a disused phone box? And can they help save lives? • Thanks to the Community Heartbeat Trust: https://www.communityheartbeat.org.uk/ • and the East of England Ambulance Service: https://www.eastamb.nhs.uk/ Automated external defibrillators, or AEDs, help save lives: but they need to be in an obvious, easy-to-access, public place that’s protected from the […]

History forgot these old fireworks. We recreated them.

Around the old mining areas of North Wales, you can find rock cannon: old Welsh firework sites. Most of the world has never heard of them: so we recreated them on a test range. • Thanks to Steve from Live Action FX: http://liveactionfx.com/ • Thanks to Owain for the idea! Edited by Michelle Martin: https://twitter.com/mrsmmartin […]

Landing at the only airport that’s also a public beach

Barra Airport, in Na h-Eileanan Siar in the west of Scotland, is unique: it’s the only commercial airport where the runway’s made of sand, and tide covers it up twice a day. Here’s how it works. Thanks to all the team at Barra Airport: https://www.hial.co.uk/barra-airport I chartered with Hebridean Air Services from Oban: https://www.hebrideanair.co.uk/ Scheduled […]

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