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Why danger symbols can’t last forever

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How to design fear, explained with 99% Invisible. Check them out here: http://99pi.org Correction: The correct spelling of “warning” in Persian is هشدار. Watch the previous episode from this series: http://bit.ly/2DDIQAL Subscribe to our channel! http://goo.gl/0bsAjO Chances are you wouldn’t be able to recognize a biohazard even if you were looking right at one. But the biohazard symbol? It’s pretty easy to spot. Most warning icons rely on previously established objects or symbols: a general caution might use an exclamation point, and a fire warning might use an illustration of a flame. But the biohazard symbol references an idea that is much harder to picture — and in the 50 years since its invention, it has become one of the most recognizable icons on the planet. But can the meaning of a symbol like this last an eternity? A special Department of Energy project is trying to figure that out. Read more: https://goo.gl/U82Ehn This video was made in partnership with 99% Invisible, a podcast about all the thought that goes into the things we don’t think about, hosted by Roman Mars. You can find full episodes at http://99pi.org Vox.com is a news website that helps you cut through the noise and understand what's really driving the events in the headlines. Check out http://www.vox.com Check out our full video catalog: http://goo.gl/IZONyE Follow Vox on Twitter: http://goo.gl/XFrZ5H Or on Facebook: http://goo.gl/U2g06o
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Text Comments (6004)
Vox (1 year ago)
Watch the previous video from our partnership with 99% Invisible here: http://bit.ly/2DDIQAL
Ruthless (3 months ago)
Vox at 0:14 why do you eat your mic?
StormyWeather (4 months ago)
My aunt's ex boyfriend's dad (from many years ago) designed the danger gas flammable signs on gas trucks and made $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$.
Timothy Benjamin (4 months ago)
Screw VOX
Iz Flash (4 months ago)
The Arabic version of warning or attention is wrong
EG:UK (5 months ago)
The skull is a timeless indicator of death. 💀💀💀☠☠☠
uh ew (13 hours ago)
idk about anyone else but like...if i see someone flying a jolly roger i literally walk the other way. smth about it makes me want to avoid it
Onfroi (1 day ago)
idk chief, a skull is a pretty obvious symbol
Tabinda Jabeen (1 day ago)
I still fear the jolly rogger cuz its still a danger symbol to this day
Tabinda Jabeen (1 day ago)
It means poison
TotallyRadicoolDude (2 days ago)
Did anyone else think of the pyramids of Egypt when big intimidating spikes where mentioned, and then the thing about the glowing cats. What do you think the chances would be that the big cat of Egypt would immediately light up in the presence of radioactivity?
Why don’t you just right DEATH in lots of different languages and hope that they know one?
Junhai Yang (3 days ago)
I would suggest that write it down in Chinese, we understand writings from 2000 years, and more educated people can go up to 4000 years... Maybe this language will keep on surviving
RED SHIRTS (3 days ago)
Amazing video
Dusky Racer (3 days ago)
Cities will disappear Cats will glow The End is near Now we must go
Jonathan Sawyer (4 days ago)
This makes my skin crawl
Whatchyamacallit (5 days ago)
Why not put more time and energy into finding ways to process or renew nuclear waste into something less harmful or reusable. Then, you don't need to worry about this...
metal87power (5 days ago)
radioactive wasteland as a place where pirates buried their treasure!? xD hilarious
Soturian (5 days ago)
I think any culture that stumbles on a radioactive site will learn this water is no good, or there is sickness in that place. Assuming they don't go extinct before they figure it out.
Goldenhordemilo (5 days ago)
glowing cat spec
Luke Nallen (5 days ago)
Biohazard symbol = hardstyle symbol
baka nga? (6 days ago)
Remember Egypt's Hieroglyphs our past future selves. Everyone forgot what's the meaning of icon and logo. History will repeat itself after 500 - 1000 years after a holocaust
Michael McLaughlin (6 days ago)
the bio hazard one has always kinda creeped me out, but if we as a species have to result to spikes an pyramids to warn off people from nuclear then the worst has already happened
Aaron Kuenzi (6 days ago)
Giant spike field...count me in, I would definitely go check it out
Rob (7 days ago)
Now I want a cat that glows.
aran best (7 days ago)
Anyone 2k19?
Jason Voorhees (7 days ago)
2:53 I always see that symbol, everytime I go to a doctor appointment we go in a room and on the walls there's a see through orange container that has needles in it and there's a sticker on the container with that symbol
Warren Searle (7 days ago)
Interesting video 👍🏻
Ordonix HD (7 days ago)
Ok so basically, who wants a hug? *looks at profile pic*
mrhappy532 (4 days ago)
~hugs with biohazard suit~
Dim TS7 (8 days ago)
I have the biohazard symbol as a wallpaper on my phone. I've gotten used to it and it means nothing to me when I see it...
*Cory in the closet* (9 days ago)
Just put a bedrock wall around it, no one can break through it
Michael Collins (10 days ago)
Yes they will, Because forever through time will people look at your publication symbol and think "bullshit news"
Jorge Campos (11 days ago)
universal sighn for buthole through safety data sheets * look it up
Sehnsucht (11 days ago)
Broke: literally using the international symbol of death, a skull Woke: GLOWING CATS
isokessu (12 days ago)
6:41 lol, too much signs for each door
Dream7 (13 days ago)
This is very interesting, but why couldn’t we just pass down the information of the current symbols?
angelasings24 (13 days ago)
this voice sounds just like the nerdwriter and i got excited cause he hasn’t posted in a while. is this where he’s been???
Honest Opinion (14 days ago)
Lack of Education is the problem. Not the symbol.
DANCERcow (14 days ago)
Is it because these signs are .......in danger? 😏
Oleg Bezman (15 days ago)
Or we could build a pyramid or a half sphere that rotates on its axles so that no one can enter it but can see the symbol it portrait. A bit like the pyramid but more "technologically advanced". The truth is as long as we use stone/very hard material/super very hard material to write important things on it like the alphabet and our history, we should be fine to indicate what symbols we use.
Paul Newton (15 days ago)
2:47 highly memorable but meaningless , an unforgettable blank slate to give meaning
pulakification (16 days ago)
Draw poop.
Chaos Tade (16 days ago)
the most useless educational video i have ever seen in my life.
Nathanator (17 days ago)
Use a face in agony because aslong as humans don’t evolve a major amount people could see it
Yeah, lets create some cult arround radiation. Religious gibberish will totally prevent future individuals from opening the site. This has worked so well for the pyramids...
MrMetalHead1100 (18 days ago)
Origin of the children of atom
Very good, kanye
Jerry Tang (18 days ago)
To all of you that say that the skull and crossbones are still able to convey information well, it DOES NOT specify what danger it is, if you took a look at 100 years ago there were maybe tens of thousands of engineers in the world, everyone else was a layman. In that context its just better for most people to ignore the area. But look at the 21st century, tens of millions are now engineers and chemists that have to solve the problems. If a chemist saw a skull and crossbones on a box they cannot know if its a biohazard or chemical hazard. So we have things like Nfpa 704 for specialists but providing more information also tells the passerbys how much caution to exercise. No matter how you put it giving more information in a dangerous event always increases survival rates
Kathryn della Porta (19 days ago)
A fascinating bit of speculative short fiction tried to answer this very question, that is, how would a future civilization that looked nothing like our own react to the warning message we left behind? The result was about what you'd expect: they went there and died, but not before figuring out the message and translating it into all of the languages in use in their time. Read it here: https://bit.ly/2MNLJ7D
Ryan 8191 (21 days ago)
The skull and crossbones were also used by the Nazis!! I know i have a couple original ones!
Brian Mo (21 days ago)
How about just a sign that says “Warning, hazardous materials”
Jarred Powell (21 days ago)
At the WIPP, this plaque can found in multiple languages, with the intention of being decipherable for 10,000 years: "This place is not a place of honor. No highly esteemed deed is commemorated here. Nothing valued is here. This place is a message and part of a system of messages. Pay attention to it! Sending this message was important to us. We considered ourselves to be a powerful culture."
ThriquinoX (21 days ago)
Biohazard symbol looks like a cool fidget spinner lmao Edit: Just read a comment saying 9 year olds will think it's a fidget spinner.
AnasGuideToTheGalaxy (22 days ago)
Thank you Vox for this video, it inspired my 8th grade science fair project.
ole9421 (23 days ago)
If you've seen, Beneath the Planet of the Apes, then you know how this all ends. "Glory be to the bomb and to the holy fallout. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be. World without end. Amen."
Guest 000003 (23 days ago)
Why didn't they use words? Biohazard Radioactive
123fendas2 (24 days ago)
0:21 Really? I associated it with poison/toxicity/lethality.
Annoymov S (26 days ago)
Let's be honest, if u walk up to an empty field and see a warning sign with those symbols, it's actually hella creepy...
Diogo F (26 days ago)
Weird thing to be worried about. If an apocalypse happened and people had to start from scratch I think they'd have bigger worries than just avoiding a tiny radioactive waste area
hbarudi (28 days ago)
Another reason why nuclear waste solutions are desperately needed. The best place for such waste would be their own reactor and even better if we knew what atoms make up that waste and what nuclear reactions might be needed to convert it into harmless waste if possible.
Nero von Aarfeste (28 days ago)
Oh hey, a Vox video I actually find interesting - nice!
Blayne Miller (29 days ago)
An atomic priesthood and glowing cats? Might as well just genetically engineer orcs or trolls to stand guard, if you're gonna go that far.
K. Chris Caldwell (1 month ago)
The longest enduring symbol of danger: https://imgur.com/a/GU1jhyT _One is not a true American until resident in the ADL's database._
The Happy Wanderer (1 month ago)
1:46 Illuminati confirmed
The Happy Wanderer (1 month ago)
I dunno, these symbols make me feel nothing
HyperlordXP (1 month ago)
See Vox, all you have to do is create content like this and we'll be alright.
wgpoprock (1 month ago)
Don't change colour kitty
Ya Boi (1 month ago)
Personally I like the radioactivity cult. I’d join
feynthefallen (1 month ago)
The radiation symbol already has failed that test, and not through time, but through simple lack of education. We westerners pretty much take for granted that everybody knows the meaning of those symbols, but forget that we acquire that knowledge mostly through schools, media and computer games. Many people don't have access to any of those, and surprising as it may seem, there's people who have never heard of ionizing radiation and don't know the trefoil symbol. As a result of that, several incidents have occurred, among them e.g. the Samut Prakan radiation incident. In all cases, the radiation sources involved were clearly marked with the trefoil symbol. In response, the Symbol ISO21482 was created, which connects the trefoil with depictions of emission, the more widely-known skull-and-crossbones poison symbol and the depiction of a fleeing person.
Paola Michaelis (1 month ago)
The glowing cat religion is just plain stupid
Lara Weinberg (1 month ago)
Did this guy say Christianity is tens of thousands of years old... Jesus was born around the year 0 and it’s 2019
Pushing 30 (1 month ago)
I disagree.. i mean pirates? cmon man
mueez adam (1 month ago)
Really tired of YouTube forgetting I liked a video
Baconkiddo (1 month ago)
If you think skull and bones are an universal symbol of danger you're completely alienated by your own culture and missed the point of the video.
Wolf (1 month ago)
Just let them die lol
Lego_ Nidas (1 month ago)
Lol
nsa3679 (1 month ago)
Just draw a red X!
David Vandermeer (1 month ago)
Humans are very good at recognizing what a healthy human looks like, even across cultural boundaries. This is sensitive enough that we feel afraid or unnerved even if something looks a little bit off, hence the uncanny valley problem which artists face when depicting humans. So couldn't a universal sign of danger to life be the image/sculpture of a human corpse? I imagine an area surrounded by sculptures of dead humans would tip the scary vs. intriguing balance the right way better than spikes. And we've dug up sculptures from ancient Egypt that we can still make out what they are, so they could be made to last long enough.
The Pip (1 month ago)
I remember my dad telling me about this when I was really little. I’m talking crazy young. I don’t know how I still remember it. He said that if we left warnings communicating “dont go here. You will die horribly if you do” future people would ignore them. After all, the pyramids have all sorts of warnings and curses in them, and we’ve still looted those. Future archeologists would assume this is no different.
T_Nation (1 month ago)
Robot guards.
Why don't you just draw a creepy image of some person's skin melting off with them pointing in the direction of where you don't want them to go? XD
Newby Ton (1 month ago)
TFW you get a biohazard bubble from Greenland in Plague .inc
William Thompson (1 month ago)
I went down a suggested bar rabbit hole and somehow ended up here
Sergio Castro (1 month ago)
Why not just write a paper, a book, leave it on the entrance saying why you have to leave this place as soon as possible? 😂
fred (1 month ago)
whats with the BASS BOOSTED voice??
Mojos Bigstick (1 month ago)
Make it stink?
AtlasTheAdventureHusky (1 month ago)
This makes little sense to me. I’m no Einstein, and I still know what the danger symbols such as biohazards and poison and java always known. Just tell someone once. Nuclear warnings work the same way
T H A N O S (1 month ago)
3:17 they kinda look like fidget spinners
Nikolas Michael (1 month ago)
I find it odd that they are focusing on making symbols that are able to retain their meaning for generations with the assumptions that future generations are going to somehow forget what radiation is, how to detect it and the affects of it. Information gets passed down and sometimes it takes investigative work to know its meaning but currently we as humans don't seem to have that many issues with knowing what letters and symbols meant in the past. EDIT: Also should be mentioned that the skull and cross bone are still used as a hazard symbol to this day to indicate poisonous material.
Googol 257 (1 month ago)
If you see a Jolly Roger symbol and go *this must be treasure* and proceed to die from intense exposure to radioactive material that just natural selection doing its job.
wylkid (1 month ago)
_”He was asked to work on the _*_whip”_*
DoronTuber (1 month ago)
what about a sign written "no enter danger"
DeathBorn (1 month ago)
If I see a skull, i know it represents death
Grant Solomon (1 month ago)
Yet universally “The Cross” of Christianity has and is standing as a test to time. Symbolizing death and sacrifice. My Savior Jesus dying for me
Lance Burley (1 month ago)
Can anything last forever ? No.....not even vox
AlchemistOfNirnroot (1 month ago)
How about using frequencies outside of our hearing spectrum near symbols; if the symbolism is lost then certainly the discomfort won't. Sounds unethical though :D
Sanjay Matsuda (1 month ago)
It's incredibly easy. These people are making a mountain out of a molehill. All you have to do is make broken skulls and bones from inexpensive materials, plate them in gold, and then coat them with gypsum. Stick them behind a barrier or on top of a pole, and voilá: a spooky sign with obvious visual language that lasts for billions of years as long as it's left undisturbed.
Will The Turtle (1 month ago)
nowadays the radiation and biohazard symbol is used for edgy 9 year olds adjusting their school email pfp
pauldzim (1 month ago)
Oooh, glowing cats! Must be something fun there!
lilpucca (1 month ago)
Imagine if emojis were used instead of these symbols oof
Big Daddy (1 month ago)
Hey i'm Persian ......... k no one cared
דפנה מלניק (1 month ago)
Someone should write a futuristic novel about the mystery of the glowing cats and the weird cultural traditions
0lone0wolf0 (1 month ago)
I can read arabic and those letters dont make any sense at all 0:35
Aidid Rashed Efat (1 month ago)
My childhood questions have been answered here. 😀
Dog Stabber (1 month ago)
They should've kept the project secret so that it gets forgotten
This guys voice is so annoying

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