We Should Let Some Wildfires Burn

From Tom Scott. In the last few years, wildfires have been getting worse – and, oddly, it’s because humans have been preventing them. From a helicopter above the forests of British Columbia, and from the Tree Ring Lab at UBC, let’s talk about how we should just let some wildfires burn. Thanks to Bradley Friesen!…

Watching for Nuclear Attack at the Top of the World

From Tom Scott. In the far north of Canada sit the DEW Line stations: “Distant Early Warning”. Built in the 1950s, these were the sites that would have sounded the alarm if the Soviet Union ever attacked North America. Or at least, they were until they went obsolete just a few years later. This video…

The New Highway to the Arctic Ocean

From Tom Scott. Until recently, Canada didn’t have a road link to the Arctic Ocean. But last year, the all-weather Inuvik-Tuktoyaktuk Highway opened, which meant that finally the country was connected “from sea to sea to sea”. I set out to drive it, but it didn’t quite go how I planned. Edited by Michelle Martin…

Lateral Game 5: The Last Chance

From Tom Scott. Both these teams have lost once; now it’s either through to the Grand Final or off to the bus home. Welcome to the last chance saloon. Metaphorically, anyway, we’re still filming in the same studio. Pull down the description for links to everyone’s work: Geoff and Vicki are on All The Stations:…

Freezing 200,000 Tons of Lethal Arsenic Dust

From Tom Scott. Giant Mine sits near Yellowknife, in the Northwest Territories of Canada. Once it was a productive gold mine, but after the gold ran out, the mining company went bankrupt and left the government to clean up the mess: enough arsenic trioxide dust to kill everyone on Earth. The solution: freezing it, at…

Lateral Game 4: The Fast Route to the Final

From Tom Scott. One team’s going straight through to the Grand Final in two episodes’ time! The fourth match of Lateral also includes Tom’s favourite question of the entire series. Pull down the description for links to everyone’s channels: Simon Clark, https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCRRr_xrOm66qaigIbwFLvbQ @simonoxfphys Sally Le Page, https://www.youtube.com/user/shedscience @sallylepage Geoff and Vicki are on All The…

Tilting an Icy Floor Until You Fall Over: WinterLab

From Tom Scott. 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.…

Lateral Game 3: the First Elimination Match

From Tom Scott. One of these teams is going home; one of these teams will carry on to the playoffs! Time for the third game of Lateral, which this week includes far more double-entendre than the question editor intended. Pull down the description for links to everyone’s work: LDShadowLady: https://www.youtube.com/user/ldshadowlady @ldshadowlady Smallishbeans: https://www.youtube.com/user/smallishbeans @smallishbeans Helen…

Lateral: Game 2 with Geoff Marshall, Vicki Pipe, LDShadowLady and Smallishbeans

From Tom Scott. The second game! With new questions, new teams, and a brief snippet of music. Pull down the description for links to everyone’s channels: Geoff and Vicki are on All The Stations: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC7ttKX46nJxUeXZ0aoD4Q5g and Geoff’s own channel https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCd18OhMfRmjMjzSHP7Zrzmw They’re @geofftech and @norwegiancheese LDShadowLady: https://www.youtube.com/user/ldshadowlady @ldshadowlady Smallishbeans: https://www.youtube.com/user/smallishbeans @smallishbeans QUESTION EDITOR David Bodycombe EDITED…

Lateral: Game 1 with Kat Arney, Helen Arney, Simon Clark, and Sally Le Page

From Tom Scott. It’s been a long time since I’ve done a quiz or game show on this channel, but finally: introducing Lateral! Pull down this description for links to everyone’s channels. Joining me are: Helen Arney, http://helenarney.com @helenarney Kat Arney, https://katarney.com @Kat_Arney Simon Clark, https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCRRr_xrOm66qaigIbwFLvbQ @simonoxfphys Sally Le Page, https://www.youtube.com/user/shedscience @sallylepage QUESTION EDITOR David…

A Town Called Asbestos

From Tom Scott. In Quebec, Canada, there’s a town called Asbestos. It’s an alarming name, one that conjures up images of lung disease and mesothelioma. So now that the town’s asbestos mine, once the largest asbestos mine in the world, has closed… why haven’t they changed the name? Dr Jessica van Horssen’s book, “A Town…

2½ Hours of Unedited Garlic Bread Flight Footage

From Tom Scott. There’s a concept called “Slow TV”, championed by Norwegian broadcaster NRK, that emphasises long, unedited, contemplative journeys. Well, I’ve been snowed under with planning and editing some big projects, so for this week’s video we’re doing Slow TV with a video even less conventional than last week’s. Thanks to Barry from My…

Making an International Standard Cup of Tea

From Tom Scott. 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…

The US President’s Bulletproof Railcar

From Tom Scott. US Car Number 1, the Ferdinand Magellan, sits in the Gold Coast Railway Museum in Miami. It’s 120 tonnes of bulletproof, armoured railcar: a train carriage designed to move the President of the United States around the country in safety and style. At least, it was, until other transport came along to…

The 1940s Mermaid Show That’s Still Pulling Crowds

From Tom Scott. In Weeki Wachee Springs State Park, Florida, there’s a mermaid show — and there has been for 70 years. It’s one of the United States’ oldest roadside attractions, and it still does three shows a day. At least, provided the local wildlife doesn’t get in the way. Weeki Wachee Springs State Park:…

Why European Clocks are Running Slow, and British Clocks Aren’t

From Tom Scott. 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]…

The Moiré Effect Lights That Guide Ships Home

From Tom Scott. I’d never heard of moiré effect beacons until I got an email asking me about them. It seemed like a really clever idea – but it was really hard to research. Or at least it was, until I stumbled upon one magic phrase that revealed its history. It turns out this thing’s…

Making Artificial Earthquakes with a Four-Tonne Steel Ball

From Tom Scott. In Göttingen, Germany, there’s a four-tonne steel ball that can be raised up a 14-metre tower — and then dropped in less than two seconds, crashing back to earth. It makes tiny, artificial earthquakes: here’s why. Thanks to all the team at Wiechert’sche Erdbebenwarte Göttingen! You can find out more about them…

Faceswapping, Unethical Videos, and Future Shock

From Tom Scott. I was going to tell a science fiction story about faceswapping, and mass blackmail. Then the news broke about unethical faceswapping videos, and software designed and marketed for creating them: and I realised the future had arrived faster than I thought. (This was originally a talk given at An Evening of Unnecessary…

Controlling An Airport From 80 Miles Away

From Tom Scott. London City Airport’s getting a new control tower: but it’s just going to be a large mast with 14 high-definition cameras on it. The actual tower will be 80 miles away, in the headquarters of NATS near Swanwick. It feels questionable: but is it? Thanks to all the team at NATS: you…