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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 (5701)
Vox (10 months ago)
Watch the previous video from our partnership with 99% Invisible here: http://bit.ly/2DDIQAL
Ruthless (1 month ago)
Vox at 0:14 why do you eat your mic?
StormyWeather (1 month 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 (1 month ago)
Screw VOX
Iz Flash (2 months ago)
The Arabic version of warning or attention is wrong
EG:UK (3 months ago)
The skull is a timeless indicator of death. 💀💀💀☠☠☠
Watchling (1 hour ago)
If we assume whoever might go there in the future doesn't understand what ever symbols or imagery we might put there, we need to find something that will keep even animals away. If we manage that, we should have the best possible solution. For example, some kind of structure that creates an uncomfortable noise when the wind blows through it.
robert brown (5 hours ago)
What??? Wasted 7 minutes of my life... Thanks VOX!
Ben Jeremiah (9 hours ago)
Mangekyou sharingan
Alex Jacob (14 hours ago)
Plague inc
kittycat0876 (15 hours ago)
Jolly roger is still used as a danger symbol
Mosieur Pepe (19 hours ago)
Just put a picture of Logan Paul up That's sure to keep people miles away. Hell, the USA might be uninhabited until it degrades naturally
Alexandre (1 day ago)
how about a fence
The0Stroy (1 day ago)
Paradoxical lack of symbol will work - sacrefice of one person will be best symbol. If one come there and died, rest will avoid this place.
Alexis Harper (1 day ago)
I feel like if someone actually used a jolly roger as a real danger symbol, you know it’s pretty serious, because people don’t use it that much anymore, and so you know that it’s something that probably will be very dangerous for a very long time because it definitely signals death.
Diana SUNSHINE Wulf (1 day ago)
10,000 years
Scar (1 day ago)
We constantly stumble across plague pits in Europe, some less than a 100 years old, others over a thousand. We dig into, grow crops on and run water through potential biohazard disasters on a daily basis because we simply don't know its there. Symbols and warnings left by forgotten generations are simply misunderstood, ignored or wiped away by the passage of time. Humans are quick to forget where we hide our dark history. A lot can happen to our society in 10,000 years, and history is a fan of repeating itself.
Viiolated (1 day ago)
How about. 'DANGER'
24- mago (2 days ago)
What does ر ا د ش ه mean?
Cman (1 day ago)
هشدار it mean warning
Trydodis (2 days ago)
What they should do is have the sign shoot out brain chemistry altering gamma rays to tell the person ‘Hey it’s radioactive you should stay away’
Cooldad42069 (2 days ago)
Lrn2voiceover Jesus Christ, you'd think that a well established news media channel like vox would know how to record, mix, and master properly
TheCarse (2 days ago)
This video is a joke
Real Ganstas (2 days ago)
Or you could just write warnings
Stefan Luginger (2 days ago)
Very interesting
Blu BoX (2 days ago)
If I went to a random field and saw a skull and crossbones I honestly would have ran the other way, no way am I going there because I know it means death
Vulpus (2 days ago)
Just draw a keep out sign, if they go in, well lets say they deserve to die.
puro (2 days ago)
Saw this everywhere in my universe and I didn’t felt comfortable about it
Prince Laviña (3 days ago)
To save yourself👌
ValoTheBrute (3 days ago)
The Scull Is One of the best we have
super soaker (3 days ago)
but i still see something threatening in the jolly roger, depending on what its on
Abd karim najebudin (3 days ago)
Woahh this video came out on my birthday
Adrian Vegas (3 days ago)
As a child, I used to think the biohazard symbol depicted a medical tool one step above the syringe. Something they used to slice your arm open if you didn't behave at the doctors..at least that was I was told.
Why not just write "dangerous" ?
Delilah Fox (3 days ago)
Language changes faster than symbols do.
DapperCuttlefish (4 days ago)
Yeah... huge spike field isn't the best way to keep people away. If I find a big forest made of spikes, my first instinct is definitely gonna be to touch the spikes. It's probably easier to just hide the site than it is to trust humans to Not Touch Things.
B e a n (3 days ago)
Hiding it will make it sound mythical and mysterious and people would hunt for it like Area 51 defeating its purpose.
Pipe Alcaraz (4 days ago)
the background song is so distracting
Heartworn Fox (4 days ago)
Skull and crossbones are still associated with death and poison... let’s just keep the ones in America, and use them permanantly
Oolong Tea (4 days ago)
Can anybody tell what song started on 0:50 ?
Daniel Skrivan (4 days ago)
The skull and crossbones doesn't mean treasure. It means pirates. The only reason it means treasure is because of pirate's treasure. Same thing with Halloween. The jolly roger doesn't mean Halloween. People wear it on Halloween because of the pirates or because of the danger that symbol represents.
royal ant (4 days ago)
But schools will still be around? warning and danger are always a part of socialisation and survival of the group and or nation. If the symbol remains universal, the explanation can come with education.
Eduquiles (5 days ago)
*Those aesthethics tho... Image ID you are doint it RIGHT!*
arti shrivastava (5 days ago)
I don't like the hazardous sign
I want one of those cats
Nihilist (6 days ago)
Just take all the signs away and watch the world burn.
night ranch (6 days ago)
The spike field is the most stupid idea I have ever heard of. It’s a strange monument that everyone will want to check out and try to find out what’s inside.
Daniel Souza (7 days ago)
The people will go there and die, this way the other ones will be warned ;)
Caleb Kirschbaum (10 days ago)
So, what about ancient civilizations? Could the Easter Island Heads mean something to warn us?
Yeet Yeeter (10 days ago)
Roman mars <3
Cindy Hua (10 days ago)
Just purposely make it look dangerous. In Canada I'm pretty sure there was this abandoned mine called The Great mine or something like that ( I know great name ) and it affected thousands or many First Nations peoples because it was arsenic / arsenic trioxide that was leaking in soil, leaking in water and present in the air. So they purposely made it look ugly/let it be so further generations would know that it was deadly. They called it "The Grey and Ugly" (Probably because it was grey and ugly but I don't know.)
Kristopher Miller (10 days ago)
EVERYONE still thinks "Poison" first when they see skull and crossbones. It's the UHS symbol for acute toxicity for goodness sake. Vox bungles it again.
Jewish Gecko (10 days ago)
The video is really interesting, but i don't actually see the problem. If humanity falls back into stone age the radioactive waste sites are the last thing they'll need to worry about. If someone finds it and then dies of it, the tribe will think of it as a cursed place and carry this information through generations. If we're talking about humanity developing so much it will have a new form of communication - it doesn't mean they'll forget what lays there and how dangerous it is.
Andy Mac (12 days ago)
How about a car silhouette with the red and blue lights on top of it? That'd be an ultimate danger warning sign.
Pyrovan (12 days ago)
Tbh the skull sign is kind of scary
╬K■Konti: (12 days ago)
Yes we should be totally afraid of glowing cats
drose83 (12 days ago)
I'm glad they consulted a science fiction creator. This is one of those challenges that require a higher dose of creativity. Great subject, by the way.
Itzlaide Xx (12 days ago)
Just goes to show, we would have a lot less problems in this society if we weren’t stupid
DestinationMan (12 days ago)
0:49 damn i thought they're going to use Wii theme music lol
Justin K. (12 days ago)
Kill de last one
SSnappyGamer (13 days ago)
I actually thought the jolly rancher symbol standed for poison
just put a picture of a bare foot that is about to step on a lego. TIMELESS indicator of DANGER. if i saw that, id think "no, i dont want that"
Iwan Wahid (14 days ago)
*see title of the video* Who cares if danger symbol cant last forever? *watch the video* Who the heck make a pink rectangle as a biohazard symbol?
TheAngryDriftMob (14 days ago)
Why don’t they use something like a hour glass from a black widow spider. Newborn babies are born to be afraid of spiders like that
Riche Bright (14 days ago)
I guess nuclear waste is the only hazard that would stick around for THAT long. Seeing how curious we humans are, the only real solution might be to keep using the current trefoil icon as the warning signage but also design future long term storage facilities to realize the possibility that once in a great while some future explorers may have to find out "the hard way." Those explorers (or their survivors) will re-learn the icon's meaning pretty quick. A better approach might be to contain the waste in a bunch of thick, rugged, chemically inert casks (something like ceramic) and drop them in a specially designated ocean area that is extra deep. If they are forgotten, any future society with the technology to discover and raise some of those casks will nearly certainly also have the technology to detect any lingering radiological danger.
Unhumanized (14 days ago)
*comes across nuclear waste storage facility and sees jolly Roger* HUh bUrieD trEaSurE
Kydrax (15 days ago)
this is dumb, that symbol came from pirates of the carribbean
Gold Star Girl (3 days ago)
sis it's centuries old no it didn't
Nicolas Lopez (15 days ago)
Vox never fails to impress me with their videos.
Antonis Zakheos (15 days ago)
This video is so pointless. Back then there was no real working knowledge behind environmental, health, safety or welfare. Nowadays we have organisations such as the HSE in the UK and as time goes by, knowledge about this will be common sense, even though it already is. We are improving day by day. Improvements will be made where appropriate but some of the suggestions said in this video are simply ridiculous. In 2015 the GHS(Global Harmonised System), CLP(Classification, Labelling and Packaging) introduced symbols which removed wording from hazard symbols making them less prone to misundestanding. That is one example of how the world is dealing with this. . If it's not broken don't fix it.
kamalindsey (15 days ago)
If ppl see a floppy and think save then a skull and crossbones could be a warning
James KNIGHT (15 days ago)
Or... you could physically block people from going there
Arthur G. Machado (15 days ago)
People far in the future will have technology to know a place is radioactive...
Arthur G. Machado (15 days ago)
I completely desagree on the skull with the two bones. I think there isn't something that cumunicates danger more, even tho it is already part of pop Culture. If you are at an unknow place and you see a skull in a door anyone will surely know it means danger
Riandhita (16 days ago)
Just put dead decapitated head symbol
*U.S.S.R* 00 (16 days ago)
Ya Dow Chemical! Midland Michigan supports you!!
Brandon L (16 days ago)
Mcdonalds golden arches symbol is the most scariest too me!
The Java Hut (16 days ago)
What was the music in the background, at the beginning
8Inch Donkey (16 days ago)
You guys can put sjw drivel into anything
Screw The Net (16 days ago)
And yet why is it that EVERy ancient culture, even just 3 or 4 hundred years back, used skulls, sometimes very real ones, and corpses, as warning signs and tools to instill fear? Seems those have always been the universal "warning" signs. O>o
David Daivdson (16 days ago)
The arrow is a symbol that has lasted tens of thousands of years. A single frame with a warning sign such as the trefoil, an arrow pointing from it to a stick drawing of a person who in the frame has another arrow through their chest with an expression of sadness/shock drawn on a simple face. That would signal to pretty much anyone that going near the trefoil symbol = death or at least that the sign warns of danger.
Alex Gilbert (17 days ago)
Just put corpses on pikes around the border
ARguy_ (15 days ago)
I mean Vlad the impaler shows it works
epicsnail14 (17 days ago)
2:18 abstergo?
d2002assassin (17 days ago)
2:27 if you play assassins creed u know that symbol in the top right is Abstergo
Marcos Hernandez (17 days ago)
Glowing cats... but not actual glowing cats, just stories and myths of glowing cats. That will serve as a warning for thousands of years to come. Yeah that's better than creating a new design every few decades.
I dont know anymore (17 days ago)
I know how to fix this problem! where do I contact someone so I get the credit???
「 」 (18 days ago)
In my top right corner I get a one piece treasure cruise add
Jahseth Bascom (18 days ago)
This persons voice... end of comment
Daily Fortnite (18 days ago)
So you need danger signs that actually last forever. Look at this: https://img.fireden.net/tg/image/1449/60/1449600999539.png
viar888 (18 days ago)
The heck is up with the voices? so annoying, ruined the video :(
Tom Jones (19 days ago)
What’s going on with the audio in this vid???
Jonah Lynx (19 days ago)
Okay... make the skull and crossbones on fire too? I don't know how much more obvious an image of literal death could be.
Kevin Carter (20 days ago)
Let's play "Spot the Varian helium mass spec leak detector"
GameAttack 089 (20 days ago)
Or just put on a sign “radioactive material ahead: you will die!” Then again people are dumb, someone would go in
levet byck (21 days ago)
Maybe symbols isn’t necessary as the conscious creature will use its own instincts to determine the danger of an unknown material..unless we want to make symbols to offer an effort of peace an sympathy to a new conscious and creative species
ii kimochi (21 days ago)
So many idiots misunderstanding the comment about the skull symbol. He was just making a broader point about the way symbols change their meaning. His example was obvious not meant to be taken literally...
Voltz (22 days ago)
The change in the narration voice is awful. You go from a high fast spoken narrative to a slow paced deep voice narrative. The two do not go together. You should just stick with one narrative voice as crossovers or the collaboration, doesn't work well. You're -velcome-
Mo Cuishle (23 days ago)
What I learned from this is: When I occasionally dig out an old box with a ‘snake and staff’ symbol printed on it, I should stay away from it.
THE GREY MAN (23 days ago)
Why not just an X? It means No, to Cancel Out, and to ultimately Stop doing something or present a way of movement. If that means anything at all, and it’s already in our heads, then why not?
-Luckai- Luckaiii (23 days ago)
wish we had a cooler symbol smh
Jevil (23 days ago)
SCP is only what i think
The0Stroy (1 day ago)
Yeah, SCP logo fulfills same criteria as Biohazard symbol.
Marvin Borisch (24 days ago)
So Vox is trying to sell me a theory only backed by not even a handfull of scientists as "fact" ? This is very vague, and there is a reason we still use these signs. There always have and there always will be people that want to change things. Doesn't mean it's correct. Doesn't mean it's incorrect either, tho. But this is a very very weak theory by some controversal scientists. That's not what I like as "fact". Thanks anyway, still a very interesting topic.
RaPtorteAm (25 days ago)
Makes a video explaining why symbols and meanings aren't consisting and definition varies. Comments are clearing shows they didn't get it.
Maria Colls (26 days ago)
Suggestion for a post. Why Vox repeatedly cuts New Zealand from a global map.
the Pink Kitty (26 days ago)
Everything is scary
N L (26 days ago)
Another Christmas Elf (27 days ago)
Maybe this video will help some people understand them in the future.
P. Vanhomrigh (28 days ago)
4:24 Um... no, and in case you do, that would be natural selection doing it's job 😂
Cassie Newton (28 days ago)
Layman me says to lay spiky booby traps...

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