Tom Scott

Near the town of Herning in Denmark sits Elia, a giant metal dome sculpture by Ingvar Cronhammar that occasionally spouts flame. I reckon it’s the world’s most frustrating piece of art, and here’s why. Elia’s site: http://elia.dk 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
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“Non-brewed condiment” is what they call it: it’s chemically very similar to proper vinegar, a mixture of ethanoic acid, colourings and flavourings, but it’s put together by just combining simple chemicals rather than brewing. Hardly anyone knows, and those that do know don’t generally care; so here’s my question. Does it matter? Thanks to Matt
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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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http://tomscott.com – http://twitter.com/tomscott WITH THANKS TO: Colin Furze – http://youtube.com/colinfurze – for letting me try his Magneto shoes, and Matt Gray – http://mattg.co.uk – on camera! “Fail-safe” doesn’t mean “we have a backup”, it means “if this fails, nobody gets hurt”. So I went to see the master of inventions that aren’t failsafe, Colin Furze,
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On the river Rhine in Switzerland, there are reaction ferries: boats with no engine, no paddles, no onboard motive power at all. Here’s how they work — and a question about what other simple ideas are out there. 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
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Many people sent me this story: it covers my favourite topics of power grids and temporal anomalies. But when the mainstream press have already covered it, how could I add something more? The answer: by adding another pet topic, Unnecessary British Patriotism. And a teasmade. Press release: https://www.entsoe.eu/news-events/announcements/announcements-archive/Pages/News/2018-03-06-press-release-continuing-frequency-deviation-in-the-continental-european-power-system.aspx Teasmade: http://amzn.to/2oYrvxb [aff. link] Update, April 8th
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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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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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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
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Britain has some of the strongest product placement rules in the world – and it means YouTube vloggers have to declare their advertising before you click on the video. Why? And what did it mean for our version of The Price is Right? Thank you to Rob (http://twitter.com/readwriteerase) for stepping in as camera operator at
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http://tomscott.com – http://twitter.com/tomscott – In a fjord near Stavanger, in southern Norway, is Preikestolen: Pulpit Rock. It’s known as one of the world’s scariest tourist attractions, for good reason — but despite the millions that visit it, it’s pretty safe. At least, for current human values of safe. Let’s talk about risk, immortality, and what
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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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If you’re in Canada, you need good winter boots. But how do you know whether they’re actually safe, or whether you’ll fall over the first time you step on ice? This is WinterLab, part of the Challenging Environment Assessment Laboratories at the Toronto Rehabilitation Institute, where they’re testing winter shoes with science. More about the
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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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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
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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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http://tomscott.com – http://twitter.com/tomscott – The Falkirk Wheel sits between Edinburgh and Glasgow, in the southern parts of Scotland, and it’s the world’s only rotating boat lift. There’s some very clever design going on here — and some physics that goes all the way back to Ancient Greece.
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In the south-east of Estonia, there’s 800m of road where you can drive through Russia without a visa. We drove it. BONUS PARK BENCH: We Got Pulled Over By The Estonian Military: https://youtu.be/KCR2kHrr4oA This video has a correction: Further research revealed that the camera tower Matt spots is, almost certainly, just a regular cell tower.
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If you’re sitting on a boat in Lake Constance, are you in three countries at once? Or just in one? Does it even matter? Because strangely, it turns out there are parts of the world where no-one really minds when international borders are not just ignored, but are completely undefined. SOURCES: Smith, B. (2001). Fiat
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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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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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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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http://tomscott.com – http://twitter.com/tomscott – The Delta Works, to the west of the Netherlands, are one of the modern wonders of the world. But there’s other, lesser-known infrastructure there too: including the Rozenburg Wind Wall, on the Caland Canal, which turns a dangerous, windy stretch of canal into a much more navigable bit of water. It’s
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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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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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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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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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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 Helsingborg, Sweden, the Museum of Failure has just opened. It’s just one room, but inside, curator Samuel West has assembled some of the world’s greatest commercial disasters – and also a few things that just didn’t work out the way anyone planned. More about them: http://museumoffailure.se/ Edited by: Michelle Martin, @mrsmmartin I’m at http://tomscott.com
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