Tom Scott

Predicting the future is a fool’s errand, but I tried it: talking about phones, lifelogging, and social changes. And on top of that: what do I think’s coming in 2032? 2012 photo credits: Andy Davidson, IMG_1790, https://www.flickr.com/photos/andy_d/7906847522/ Andy Davidson, IMG_1791, https://www.flickr.com/photos/andy_d/7906848920/ both licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/ The Brief History of the Dead
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I tried to write a more honest VPN commercial. The sponsor wasn’t happy about it. • Get ██ days of ███ VPN free at ██████.com/honest The ASA ruling I referenced: https://www.asa.org.uk/rulings/tefincom-sa-a19-547668.html 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
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Mannequins are generally bought, used once for a project, and then thrown away to landfill. Except here, at Mannakin in Lincolnshire. Thanks to Roz and the team at Mannakin: https://mannakin.com My first thought was “don’t those mannequins rot, just sitting out there in the weather?” And then I realised: no, not really, they’re fibreglass. That’s
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Next to Amsterdam Schiphol Airport is the Buitenschot Land Art Park, a giant set of ridges and furrows cut into the landscape. Yes, it’s art: but it also stops some local residents from being exposed to jet noise. More about the park: https://www.schiphol.nl/en/schiphol-as-a-neighbour/page/landscape-design-plan-to-combat-noise-nuisance/ I’m at https://tomscott.com on Twitter at https://twitter.com/tomscott on Facebook at https://facebook.com/tomscott and
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Electrical Network Frequency analysis, ENF analysis, matches background hum against power grid logs. I talked to one of the researchers who works on it, and also set them a challenge. Thanks to @Answer in Progress, @Hannah Witton and @Steve Mould! I’m at https://tomscott.com on Twitter at https://twitter.com/tomscott on Facebook at https://facebook.com/tomscott and on Instagram as
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The Thames Barrier is a wonder of engineering. If it fails, then London floods. Here’s how the engineers there make sure it doesn’t fail. More about the Thames Barrier: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/the-thames-barrier Producer/Director: Cambria Bailey-Jones Editor: Michelle Martin Camera Operator: Jamie MacLeod Drone Director: Alex Glynn Drone Team: Ian Hunter, Tim Hubbard Runner: Rebecca Johnson Colourist: Jamie
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At $8.3 million dollars for around 40 milligrams, the British Guiana 1c magenta is the world’s most expensive object by weight: it’s a postage stamp from 1856, the only one of its kind. More about the stamp and Stanley Gibbons: https://www.stanleygibbons.com/collecting-stamps/one-cent-magenta I’m at https://tomscott.com on Twitter at https://twitter.com/tomscott on Facebook at https://facebook.com/tomscott and on Instagram
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Switzerland has a reputation for being… not paranoid, exactly, but certainly careful with their own safety. Zurich exemplifies this: not just with its fallout shelters, but with an entire backup water system. Just in case the world ends. SOURCE (in German): https://www.stadt-zuerich.ch/dib/de/index/wasserversorgung/brunnen/Notwasserbrunnen.html I’m at http://tomscott.com on Twitter at http://twitter.com/tomscott on Facebook at http://facebook.com/tomscott and on
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The Lorenbahn, the Lüttmoorsiel-Nordstrandischmoor island railway, is famous for the tiny, private trains that take residents to and from the mainland. But that’s not why it was built: and it’s got a more useful purpose as well. Thanks to everyone from Landesbetrieb für Küstenschutz, Nationalpark und Meeresschutz Schleswig-Holstein, and to the islanders, for all your
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In Brienz/Brinzauls, a small village in the east of Switzerland, there’s a village slipping into a valley and a road that’s surprisingly dangerous. Thanks to everyone I interviewed: pull down the description for links and more details! CCTV footage from Geopraevent, used with permission: https://www.geopraevent.ch/ More details on the Brienz radar: https://www.geopraevent.ch/project/rockfall-radar-brienz/ CSD Engineers: https://www.csd.ch/en
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The Brünnlisau shooting range in Switzerland has its targets on the other side of a major road. And it’s safe. Here’s how and why. Thanks to everyone at the Schiessanlage Brünnlisau! Camera: Alicja Pahl Producer: Sebastian Capeda at Viven https://viven.ch Editor: 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
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http://tomscott.com – @tomscott – A message from the Interstellar Safety Council. What if the rest of the universe wasn’t built on “survival of the fittest”? The post and discussion that inspired this: http://bogleech.tumblr.com/post/56211923819/its-funny-how-science-fiction-universes-so-often
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On a little canal off the Elbe river in Germany, sits the McBoat: the world’s only paddle-through McDonalds. It seemed like the sort of thing I should investigate. Camera operator: Richard Bielau Producer: Maximilian Thesseling of Klein Aber https://kleinaber.de/ 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
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An elevator that can go smoothly from horizontal to vertical isn’t possible… right? Turns out that the conventional wisdom is wrong, and the Schmid Peoplemover has been doing that for many years. Camera: Moritz Janisch Producer: Marcel Fenchel https://www.fenchel-janisch.com/ Engineering consultant: Calum Douglas Animation: Pete McPartlan I’m at https://tomscott.com on Twitter at https://twitter.com/tomscott on Facebook
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One comma can make a lot of difference. Language is ambiguous — but in some very specific ways. Here’s how. Written with GRETCHEN MCCULLOCH: http://gretchenmcculloch.com – http://twitter.com/GretchenAMcC [Update: her book BECAUSE INTERNET is out July 2019! https://gretchenmcculloch.com/book/ ] More from Gretchen at ALL THINGS LINGUISTIC: http://allthingslinguistic.com – http://twitter.com/AllThingsLing BONUS LINK: Garden Path Sentence Shirts: http://allthingslinguistic.com/post/118396390957/garden-path-sentence-shirts-a-story
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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
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Over the Manchester Ship Canal, you’ll find the Hulmes Ferry, the Thelwall Ferry, and the Warburton Toll Bridge. They’re all strange in their own way, all under the control of one company, and all dating back to old laws and legal documents from a hundred years ago. I was in the area, so I stopped
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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
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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
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Dinorwig Power Station, otherwise known as Electric Mountain, is a pumped-storage hydro station in Llanberis, Wales. And yes: it’s Britain’s largest battery. Here’s how it works, and why some of the things you think you know about TV pickups might not be so true any more. Thanks to all the Engie team! More about them:
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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. • This video has a correction: Hornsdale Power Reserve didn’t catch fire! It was the newer Victorian Big Battery, near Geelong. Complete blunder on my part, apologies to
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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
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On the south-east coast of England sits Covehithe: a little Suffolk 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
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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
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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
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It’s been all over the British news today: developer Paul Price found a bug in photo-crap-maker Moonpig’s site, one that might have exposed three million users’ personal information. Paul’s got a great technical post about it at https://www.darkport.co.uk/blog/moonpig-vulnerability/ — but there’s no decent non-techie explanation except for the one-paragraph summaries in newspapers. It was a
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http://tomscott.com – http://twitter.com/tomscott – A guide for the newly empowered, courtesy of the Superhero Help Academic Foundation Trust, Education Division. Sure, you could jump a few places and fight crime: or you could take over the world. Thanks to YouTube Space London, who offered me time on their science lab set — and thanks to
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“Hello!” “Thank you!” “You’re welcome!” These are all phatic expressions, and people can argue about them. Pull down the description for the references! MORE LANGUAGE FILES: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL96C35uN7xGLDEnHuhD7CTZES3KXFnwm0 Written with Gretchen McCulloch and Molly Ruhl. Gretchen’s new book, BECAUSE INTERNET, is available now: 🇺🇸 US: https://amzn.to/30tLpjT 🇨🇦 CA: https://amzn.to/2JsTYWH 🇬🇧 UK: https://amzn.to/31K8eRD (Those are affiliate links
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The mysterious YouTube algorithm. It’s confused people for years, and will continue to do so. So why isn’t YouTube more transparent? It used to be that they wouldn’t tell anyone how it works – but now, it’s that they can’t. Let’s talk about deep learning algorithms, neural networks, and search engine optimisation. CREDITS: Thanks to
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The Berkeley Pit, in Butte, Montana, was once the richest hill on Earth: the Anaconda Copper Mine. Now: it’s not all that rich, and it’s not much of a hill. Instead, it’s a toxic pit filled with sulfuric acid. Thanks to the Montana Resources team: https://www.montanaresources.com/ REFERENCES AND FURTHER READING: “10,000 miles of tunnels”: https://mtstandard.com/news/local/new-map-plots-butte-underground/article_f1de51e2-948f-5634-9aa0-87ad730d9cfd.html
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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
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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
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http://tomscott.com – http://twitter.com/tomscott – In a disused quarry at Harpur Hill, near Buxton, there’s a bright blue lagoon. It looks like a perfect place to cool off in summer. And it is, if you enjoy skin irritation and fungal infections. But the strange thing is: I arrived expecting to find it black, not blue… Why
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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
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Some languages have longer words than others — but that’s not just a simple choice. There’s a lot of different ways to mix up morphemes, even if they all mean the same thing in the end. Written with GRETCHEN MCCULLOCH: http://gretchenmcculloch.com – http://twitter.com/GretchenAMcC [Update: her book BECAUSE INTERNET is out July 2019! https://gretchenmcculloch.com/book/ ] More
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http://tomscott.com – http://twitter.com/tomscott – There’s a strange avenue of trees in Richmond Park, ten miles from St Paul’s Cathedral; and an odd, wedge-shaped skyscraper in the city. At the New London Model, at the NLA Galleries at the Building Centre, I explain both of these. London is going vertical: but there are quite a few
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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
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