Tom Scott

http://tomscott.com – @tomscott – There are lots of interesting features in other languages, some of which English would really benefit from having. I’m going to talk about four of them: time-independence, clusivity, absolute direction, and evidentiality. Also, I’ve learned from last week: no irritating piano music this time! UNESCO list of endangered languages: http://www.unesco.org/culture/languages-atlas/
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In the 1830s, two French brothers, François and Joseph Blanc, pulled off the first telecoms scam in history. The optical telegraph, a line of semaphore towers stretching from hilltop to hilltop, was for government use only: but something as simple as the law wasn’t going to get in their way. Thanks to Victoria Harrison for
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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.xyz ADDITIONAL SOURCES: https://www.advertiserandtimes.co.uk/ipley-crossroads-campaign The UK government’s Traffic Signs Manual,
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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
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Go see William Osman’s video about building the car! – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7ZK_fnS62Lk and thanks to Michael Reeves for being a guinea pig: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCtHaxi4GTYDpJgMSGy7AeSw/ We built a car that you drive with real-life video game lag, and used it for an ill-advised, mostly-unscientific experiment about motion sickness. In case it wasn’t obvious: we did this in a
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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
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Kerosene Creek is a natural hot spring near Rotorua, on the North Island of New Zealand. And there have been official warnings for years: don’t put your head under water. It turns out that “brain-eating amoebas”, naegleria fowleri, are a real, if rare, thing. Thank you to Associate Professor Siouxsie Wiles! Here are some of
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In Crawfordsville, Indiana, there’s a rotary jail: an invention that, with hindsight, should probably never have been built. But it was, here and in other towns across the United States. It might have sounded like a good idea on paper, but in practice, it had a few unfortunate problems… including occasional accidental amputations. More about
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This is a collaboration with the Royal Institution! Go check out their video here: https://youtu.be/sScrtGdKmho — Perpetual motion machines are badly named. And impossible. But that hasn’t stopped a lot of people trying to build them. Sure, you could try and argue physics: but there’s a more common-sense reason why free energy’s not coming any
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I can show a brighter pink. I can show a more saturated pink. But I can’t show you this pink. Not quite. More about Stuart Semple and his pigments: https://www.culturehustle.com/ [that’s his store, we overloaded Stuart’s personal web site, http://www.stuartsemple.com, within a few minutes…!] (I reached out to Anish Kapoor’s studio twice for comment; I
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http://tomscott.com – http://twitter.com/tomscott – In north-west Germany sits Bielefeld, a city complete with castle, cathedral and citizens. Just one catch: according to something that’s half urban legend, half in-joke, it doesn’t exist. Let’s talk about belief and Bielefeld.
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In the archives of Yale University, there’s a 367-year-old bond from the water authority of Lekdijk Bovendams, in the Netherlands. And it’s still paying interest. Thanks to: Prof. Geert Rouwenhorst for his time and explanation All the team at the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library Michelle Martin (@mrsmmartin) for editing the interview and Leendert
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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
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There’s a reason that a lot of planets in American science fiction look the same: they’re all filmed in the same places. But why those particular locations? It’s about money, about union rules, and about the thirty-mile zone — or as it’s otherwise known, the TMZ. Wikipedia on Vasquez Rocks: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_productions_using_the_Vasquez_Rocks_as_a_filming_location Camera: Matt Gray http://www.mattg.co.uk/
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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
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The Jelling Stones, thousand-year-old Viking runestones, sit in the town of Jelling in Denmark. They tell the tale of Harald Bluetooth: one of the first kings of Denmark. Here’s why his name is on your phone. I’m at http://tomscott.com on Twitter at http://twitter.com/tomscott on Facebook at http://facebook.com/tomscott and on Snapchat and Instagram as tomscottgo Sources
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In Gävle, Sweden, every year they build Gävlebocken, an enormous traditional Swedish Christmas straw goat. And every year, someone tries to burn it down. Here’s to holiday traditions. THANKS TO: Axel Wickman, @axelwickm on Twitter, for the post-burning photos of the goat from this morning! I’m at http://tomscott.com on Twitter at http://twitter.com/tomscott on Facebook at
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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
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Herman Sörgel wanted to create the largest civil engineering project the world has ever seen: a colossal dam across the Strait of Gibraltar, lowering the Mediterranean sea. There were, of course, a few problems with this. VFX by David ‘Hoolopee’ Post (http://youtube.com/hoolopee) Camera by Paul Curry (@cr3) I’m at http://tomscott.com on Facebook at http://facebook.com/tomscott on
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Thanks to the British Museum! Go help choose their first YouTube series: https://youtu.be/luXVd6M-wQM The Rosetta Stone is one of the most famous archaeological finds in history: and it was the key to cracking Egyptian hieroglyphics. And while it took scholars years to work it out, there was one clue in there that helped unlock everything
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Your sports team wins. The confetti drops. And suddenly, the video quality falls apart. Why? Let’s talk about interframe compression, bitrate, and unnecessary green screen effects. I’m at https://tomscott.com on Twitter at http://twitter.com/tomscott on Facebook at http://facebook.com/tomscott and on Instagram as @tomscottgo You might also like: How Green Screen Worked Before Computers: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=msPCQgRPPjI This uses
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http://tomscott.com – Or: what you see when you die. If you liked this, you may also enjoy two novels that provided inspiration for it: Jim Munroe’s Everyone in Silico, where I first found the idea of a corporate-sponsored afterlife; and Rudy Rucker’s trippy Postsingular, which introduced me to the horrifying idea of consciousness slums.
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There’s a reason music videos look strange. I could just talk about framerate, cuts and continuity… or I could get an actual music video director. And a leaf blower. Directed by: Sammy Paul https://twitter.com/icoepr Produced by: Cambria Bailey-Jones https://twitter.com/cambriabailey Guy Larsen https://twitter.com/thisisguido Director of Photography: Ciaran O’Brien https://twitter.com/ciaranobrien Featuring: dodie https://youtube.com/doddleoddle Dancers: Deepraj Singh Annie
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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
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As far as I can find, no-one has actually made a International Standard Cup of Tea – ISO 3103 or BS 6008 – for the internet before. Lots of people have talked about it, but that’s easy. Making one? That requires precision… and some specialist equipment. You can buy a professional tea tasting set from
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Inside the beautiful Alnwick Garden, behind a locked gate, there’s the Poison Garden: it contains only poisonous plants. Trevor Jones, head gardener, was kind enough to give a guided tour! For more information about visiting the Castle, Garden, and poison garden: https://alnwickgarden.com/ (And yes, it’s pronounced “Annick”.) Edited by Michelle Martin, @mrsmmartin I’m at http://tomscott.com
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Olds Engineering, a traditional workshop and foundry, sits in Maryborough, Australia. It’s not the sort of place you’d expect to find a new industrial invention in the 21st century: and yet the Olds Elevator, patented by Peter Olds, is just that. More about Olds Engineering: https://www.olds.com.au/ and the Olds Elevator: https://www.oldselevator.com/ Edited by Michelle Martin
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