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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 (5036)
Vox (7 months ago)
Watch the previous video from our partnership with 99% Invisible here: http://bit.ly/2DDIQAL
EnigmaOGN (7 days ago)
The skull is a timeless indicator of death. 💀💀💀☠☠☠
King Covfefe (1 month ago)
that was utterly pointless
Kim Selin (1 month ago)
Jorge Benitez (2 months ago)
Vox use a melting man for biohazard
The Works (9 hours ago)
0:23 I think not. I see that symbol and I immediately think Skull and Bones Yale University. Why do you think they chose that symbol? They are the modern day pirates.
weather (15 hours ago)
Put my face then it would look very threatening.
max kore (1 day ago)
what about these examples: a simple figure of a headless corpse a face with crosses in its eyes a noose a hanging man a simple human figure with an exploding head auto turrets barbed wire a knife with a drip on the end spinning red lights blaring alarm a fog horn i don't get why we would forget those hazard symbols, they are part of our culture, a universal human culture maybe they need a name, or more awareness for their names
Mouse three (1 day ago)
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Ferocetis (1 day ago)
Only Americans are so retarded that skull means pirate booty. Grim skull is symbol of death for centuries, there wasn't any change to the meaning.
This is the idea behind natural selection - if something is harmful, radioactive, then people who don't know what it is will get in contact with it, and become sterile and die, but the people who don't, won't. Eventually the people of the time will realise through trial and effect that those things are harmful and tell others to stay away from them. I can imagine that's how we started out, and how we will continue, thousands, millions of years into the future.
Aryan Dey (1 day ago)
Aryan Dey (1 day ago)
Just write them in big letters.
Tannish Brown (1 day ago)
do your own research find out what they really mean
close minded (1 day ago)
It says "private" not "pirate"
HadleyWK Fozzie (2 days ago)
Simple, mines
lostmybadger (2 days ago)
cannot listen to this with headphones without wanting to die immediately
Son of Odin (2 days ago)
This was really interesting, I wish there was more about this!
Sami San (2 days ago)
Kind of makes me think about the monumental “art” structures that we can’t quite pinpoint the meaning of.
Kikai Shinobu (3 days ago)
Put a heat sensor that detects human activity around the parameter. Once the heat sensor is activated, make the speakers play Justin Bieber songs in full blast with bass boost. That'll teach em not to come close.
Peter Ruette (3 days ago)
Bright red paint with white spots.... we are naturally weary of this. 10000 years from now we will still be weary of it.
-*Pastel Games*- (3 days ago)
Anyone else watching this while they're sick? And it's hard to breathe? No? Just me?
And that's what religion is all about. Behavioral hazard
Brian Flores (4 days ago)
Meny animals are scared of brought colors as a warning ⚠️🤷🏽‍♂️
Nona (5 days ago)
I dunno' when I see a skull and crossbones on a bottle of liquid I'm pretty damn sure it's deadly.
baconkilla806 (6 days ago)
moral of the story, people are dumb over time and these signs cant last forever
NotASpyReally (7 days ago)
a red picture of a dead human sounds pretty straight forward to me wouldn't that work?
EnigmaOGN (7 days ago)
The skull is a timeless indicator of death.
DryBones111 (7 days ago)
The dual narration is quite off-putting
JDOE Doe (7 days ago)
some old idiot seriously got paid to come up with an idea of brainwashing a cult of morons into fearing glowing cats, in order to save some hypothetical bum 20k years in the future from digging a hole? this is tax dollars at work here.
Cristian Villanueva (8 days ago)
Chris K (8 days ago)
symbol 1 a happy (smile) couple with young child. symbol 2 Sad couple with a hand full of child sized bones. symbol 3 Sad (woman?) with a hand full of dust and a floor laden with a mans worth of bones. Anyone who does not understand the following is removed from a grateful gene pool.
Ryan's Eternal Hell (8 days ago)
I don’t know about you, but I think danger symbols’ meaning are very easily guessed and if you mistake them for something else that’s natural selection
Lolnoelke77 (8 days ago)
You could use text in the symbol
Wading Kiosk (9 days ago)
Fallout did the religious nuclear cult thing and I wouldn't want to see it anywhere near me in the real world
Gucio Ulman (9 days ago)
Maybelline something about smell? People always were afraid od stench. It's natural warning mwssage.
4TheRecord (9 days ago)
4:56 - Last picture looks like the guys relaxing beside a tree.
kick (9 days ago)
This dual commentary is cancerous
Mark McCulfor (9 days ago)
Beware the figet spinner XD
Wade Gruber (10 days ago)
I got an idea. Make something that zapps the person looking at it.
AdamFra (10 days ago)
The only way a skull with crossbones could actually be useful to communicate danger is if you put the words "DANGER: Pirates have hidden death here." below the symbol.
Maybe instead of glowing cats they should tell stories of an symbol, maybe a black and yellow circle, oh wait.
Pradeep Prabhu (11 days ago)
Dow chemicals did continue to experiment on other things too. Like gassing innocent people living in big cities. #bhopallivesmatter #bhopalgastragedy
KyanJ (12 days ago)
The *WIPP*
best gameplay (12 days ago)
We still use the pirat deadskull for dangerous stuff tho
glitch gamer (12 days ago)
Thumbnail looks like.a watch dogs..game
kent largo (12 days ago)
😵This universal emoji should be good enough
m0L3ify (13 days ago)
Children of Atom
unoriginal trendy word (13 days ago)
And that is how the fidget spinner was born.
Weizi Li (13 days ago)
How about a simple stick cartoon figure laying down with crosses as the eyes.
hella gay james (13 days ago)
these symbols turned into fidget spinners.
falsonaga (14 days ago)
This remembers me to all the typical movies about warnings in egyptian tombs. If any sign says "DO NOT OPEN", "THOSE WHO OPEN THIS WILL UNLEASH A GREAT RUIN IN THE WORLD AND THEMSELVES,",etc, the first reaction to the human being finding it will be "Wow cool, I wonder whats inside, lets find out".
Florian Beck (14 days ago)
Actually for me as a chemist the first thing I think of when seeing skull and bones is poison.
איתיאל מורד (14 days ago)
i'd be more calm if mr. peanut was the symbol you see when a biohazard warning occurs
Christina Mata (14 days ago)
Radioactive Cats is my new band name ☠️😸
Nico.Anonymous (15 days ago)
Shut up Fatboy
caststone ba (15 days ago)
how about don't make any radio active waste and u wont have to think of the dam symbols and what ever u do have engineer a very safe vessel and get it to the sun dam smart people can be so stupid some times now let me stand on a Dam and ask where can I get some dam bait
David LeMonstre (16 days ago)
Next title for a video: Why nothing lasts forever
squishh (16 days ago)
Paistin Lasta (17 days ago)
I'm still quite positive the Jolly Roger will never lose it's meaning. Anyone over 7 years old who sees skull with bones in a random field won't think it's there for fun and play. That and I'm quite positive bones will allways be a symbol of death, no matter how culture evolves.
Azriel Carisha (18 days ago)
Well damn, i’ve never even think of this
Sultan Abdulaziz (19 days ago)
Sven Dahmen (19 days ago)
Just leave a small portion of highly intensive radioactive material or deadly poison somehow fixed but accessible in a slightly easier way than the buried mass you want to keep totally untouched. Thereby the knowledge that it is "a smart idea" to avoid a place has not to be handed down over generations but will be "re-invented" from time to time.
F.D. English (20 days ago)
The problem with some if not all symbols are that they become art. A cool jacket with a bio hazard insignia on it or a sweet electric guitar with a radiation symbol painted on it. The future is f*cked
F.D. English (20 days ago)
Bad hair day for the future I guess
Antonov (21 days ago)
I allways thought that Radiation symbol is a representation of a real thing. I thought it is an object projecting 3 rotating rays of dangerous particles, wich it pretty much is… so it worked
Sylas viper (21 days ago)
you could use ultra sounds to induce a mind numblingly loud high pitch sound local to a persons ears. And make it louder the closer you get. If anyone walks towards a sound that is agonizingly loud, I think they deserve death. A combination of warnings suggests intense danger. Could just do that. A mess of symbols everywhere. old, rusted and desolate.
weasel945 (21 days ago)
I am imagining a ton of Indiana Jones type booby traps, but instead of treasure at the end you just get radiation poisoning.
Megumin (22 days ago)
3:12 I always thought the radiation symbol was a particle emitting radiation.
Joe Nathan White (22 days ago)
Everybody knows the mangekyou sharingan stands for danger. Dont wanna mess around with it
Joe Nathan White (22 days ago)
Can you please stay 10 cm away from your mic.
Packless1 (22 days ago)
6:00 "...you shall not build there...!" ...no, it means: "...you shall not build HOUSES there...!" HERETIC...! BLASPHEMY...! CRUSADE...! WAR...!!! That's how it would work, i'm afraid...! In fact, we yet don't know, how to warn people for thousands of years...! :-(
juanthestabber (22 days ago)
I want a glowing cat.
4:28 "Hey, this is where the pirates buried their treasure!" S o l e t s *D I G I T U P*
Don Hyon (23 days ago)
Standardisation and active education. This may turn out to be an active process.
Jeremy Prime (24 days ago)
In the age of instant information, i don't understand why this would matter. In 10,000 i would think they would have some kind of wearable tech that translates any symbol instantly to the wearer so that they understand. Even so, if the world is so terrible destroyed in 10,000 years that humanity is cave man stupid, what difference does it make if they understand
Bhav Gill (24 days ago)
Just write "Danger"
Alex Long (24 days ago)
What is the music in the background at 5:29 ?
Th3taB3ta (24 days ago)
They’ll add a new item to Fortnite that looks like a biohazard icon and kids will mistake biohazards for Fortnite items.
Nofan Felani (24 days ago)
Fascinating topic! it would be hilarious if 1000 years later the earth got blown up because some archaeologist forgot what the meaning behind a radioactive symbol
jm22186 (24 days ago)
Quite illuminating makes me think about tombs and how we now have mummies on display, when at the time of barial it would not have even be considered a possibility of the after life.
Misery Dark (24 days ago)
What do we also think now of the symbols? Theyre Cyber goth and alien activity symbols ( ya know, mutated organisms, etc.).
TOBZ (25 days ago)
Jake Paul’s face cuz no one want to go anywhere near that
ameen dafedar (25 days ago)
I'm loving the new dark theme on android😊
KenWays (25 days ago)
Make a giant mountain on top of the area
Grande Turco (25 days ago)
MelvinDorkus (25 days ago)
seems like a silly concern. theres only 2 ways humanity goes: 1) we survive and with the stockpiled knowledge we have amassed and the language we keep passing down to our children, the symbols remain. or 2) humanity nukes itself to the ground after which either there arent people or the people who are left dont need to be told that chernobyl is radioactive because the whole damn world is radioactive.
The spikes actually worked on me. My head lifted, my eyes hurted when looking at the spikes.
Bouphe's Number 1 Fan (26 days ago)
The only way these symbols will remain effective is if we don't ever allow similar symbols for anything bar other danger indicators. The reason the jolly roger no longer dissuades people is due to pirates no longer being a threat (square sail, cannon, peg leg pirates). If humans somehow become resistant to biochemical hazards or nuclear radiation, then these symbols too will become ignored. If we don't then these symbols will retain their meaning and humans will still fear them as it means danger to our body
Steven Quartz (26 days ago)
otto leeverink (26 days ago)
this is wy we need to teach our kids what danger symbols are. in the nettherlands we have so-called sirens (kind of a hurricane alarm) that warn us for fires smoke and other things like that but they test em once a month so no one cares about them anymore. so if something real is going on you could die.
TheAweDude1 (26 days ago)
I think the answer lies in game design. Wait, hear me out: what is the one thing a game cannot do? A game cannot stop a player. Take any game you've recently played. There is most likely dozens of things the designer did not want you to do. Maybe it was going to a certain place at a certain time, like going to an area off the map? Maybe it was affecting an object in an unintended way, like killing an otherwise invulnerable character? Maybe it was changing a value that wasn't meant to be changed, like acquiring an impossible to acquire item? Whatever the case is, it is inevitable that a player will do a thing the designer did not want them to do. Invulnerable NPCs will be killed, impossible locations will be visited, and events will happen out of order. Many developers have tried to stop their players, and all have failed. But, who is to say that is impossible? All we need is a little... push. The answer is simple: create a competition. Post a challenge to all game designers, all psychologists, all sociologists, everybody. Award whoever can most effectively dissuade and repel a player from doing a certain task, being in a certain spot, taking a certain item with prestige and money. Use that same drive that compels us to break every barrier to create an unbreakable barrier.
APessimist 23 (27 days ago)
carve it in stone !
Karine Aghajanyan (27 days ago)
This video amazes me. I watch it and it makes me think about future, it had good questions and remarks )) thanks Vox
>tfw modern scientists and philosophers realize that a religion is needed to preserve vital knowledge.
Bugchasers have already appropriated the symbol.
Toa Tahu (27 days ago)
So we forget the symbols, someone dies, and we relearn. Seriously, in the grand scheme of things, this isn't a big deal...
Dalton Chew (27 days ago)
The skull and crossbones still protray the warning that its definitely dangerous.
melissa saint (27 days ago)
6:00 wow, that is some Beneath the Planet of the Apes stuff right there. It's painfully funny to imagine humans millenia from now, maybe after serious events have disrupted the inheritance of technological knowledge, and a batch of fresh young skeptics considering the sacred forbidden poison land as all stone age woo-woo.
nuketown33 Ryan (27 days ago)
Why is there sad music
W Y (27 days ago)
Ik what will scare any person in the universe forever. NO WIFI!!!!
Nyctophora (28 days ago)
I think that the meaning of the Jolly Roger remains the same - Pirates - it's the meaning of Pirates that has changed in popular culture. Because back when it was designed it didn't mean "slightly daffy camp knockabout sea stories" :) but now, to a lot of people, it means just that.
Brian Carpenter (28 days ago)
um, just put barbed wire fence around the nuclear waste? seems pretty straightforward to me. i notice it and I know not to go there. just like a prison.
Karou Lilliehook (28 days ago)
whoever did the audio design in this needs to be fired.

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