Watching for Nuclear Attack at the Top of the World

  • Published on Jul 2, 2018
  • 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 relies on public domain archive footage from:
    DEW Line Story (1958):
    Atlas the ICBM (1957):
    And is based on the research of:
    Louis Isemann, James. (2018). To detect, to deter, to defend: the Distant Early Warning (DEW) line and early cold war defense policy, 1953-1957.;sequence=1 [PDF]
    Schlosser, E. (2009). Command and Control. [ (aff. link)]
    Edited by Michelle Martin (@mrsmmartin)
    I'm at
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    and on Snapchat and Instagram as tomscottgo

Comments • 340

  • Tom Scott
    Tom Scott  11 months ago +858

    I did ask the military if I could go inside; they said no. I also asked our tour guide (Eileen, from last week's video) if we could get closer; the road to it was blocked with snow. If only I'd been there later in the year...!

    • Antoine Allard
      Antoine Allard 7 months ago

      I spent the summer around those radar site, because I was refuelling the generators that keep those site year round

    • The Four Horsemen
      The Four Horsemen 10 months ago +1

      +Val VanNowere
      TVclip allows you to upload a video in advance and set a day and time when it will automatically release to the public. If you add a comment when you upload it, before it releases, it will show the date and time of the comment as the actual time it was made, not the video release day and time. Tom is almost certainly using this feature to keep the channel on a regular upload schedule even when his schedule isn't regular.

    • Val VanNowere
      Val VanNowere 10 months ago +1

      Did you ever explain why your comments are always 2 weeks before upload? I think I know why, people seem to ask this same bloody question on every single video which turns the comment thread from engaged discussion about the video to something that starts feeling like a meme...

    • LiveWire937
      LiveWire937 10 months ago

      Sir, as a proud member of the internet, it is my sworn duty to in form you that your thumbnail is a penis.

    • J
      J 10 months ago

      Tom Scott x

  • Green Keldeo
    Green Keldeo 4 months ago

    You are missing an "s" in the title...

  • Lance Nostrum
    Lance Nostrum 4 months ago

    Or bottom or side or 73.932 degrees space doesn’t have inherent directions only relative directions

  • I can game or whatever I

    What about the duga 1

  • Ilavenil
    Ilavenil 6 months ago

    I saw the glimpse of the red t-shirt :)

  • 19kc88
    19kc88 7 months ago

    The thing I like best about your videos is that you just start - no crap about how to subscribe or telling us what the video is about.

  • Cheat Code
    Cheat Code 7 months ago

    Britain ruled ruthlessly in India and they destroyed it and you should tell the world

  • Matt Ryans
    Matt Ryans 7 months ago


  • Jonas Knickenberg
    Jonas Knickenberg 7 months ago

    In Germany, the video title gets translated into German. That makes finding the video a lot harder, it'd be easier if the title would still be in English.

  • mjmbiker
    mjmbiker 7 months ago

    Flat earthers are not happy about this

  • GamingWessel
    GamingWessel 7 months ago

    OUR pole ☭

  • Juan Antonio Lucas Gorosabel

    You are not allowed near it?? Come on! I was there this summer and I drove my car all the way to the complex, a park 2 meters away from the giant ball. There's no fence and nobody watching it... It is still working, that's true, but it is not top secret or even protected.

  • M&N Productions
    M&N Productions 9 months ago

    Does anyone know what plane was shown at 0:55

    • Tevildo
      Tevildo 5 months ago

      M&N - It's a Douglas C-124.

  • Paul Potter
    Paul Potter 9 months ago

    They're going to need it again soon!

  • Jason Irwin
    Jason Irwin 9 months ago

    tom you should think about doing a video on the USS Winston Churchill. the only active american warship named after a foreign leader and the only ship in the us navy that has a posting for a royal navy officer.

  • Jonathan D Woolley
    Jonathan D Woolley 10 months ago

    Tom Scott is great. His vids are more entertaining than BBC cr*p.

  • Kenji Gunawan
    Kenji Gunawan 10 months ago

    Tom Scott is like a short documentary BBC presenter or reporter.

  • Emil Carr
    Emil Carr 10 months ago

    There's one of those parabolic dome towers in Teufelsberg, Berlin which has been converted to an artist's commune, ooh and they have raves inside it. It's definitely worth visiting.

  • Matthew Eargle - AirborneSurfer

    Love the Eisenhower quote: "In the military, if it works, it's obsolete". True then as it is now, and with the added infosec implications since the 70s!

  • macronencer
    macronencer 10 months ago

    If only it could stop propaganda...

  • Alexander Mashin
    Alexander Mashin 10 months ago

    The DEW line was obsolete from the beginning. The Soviet Union never had a significant fleet of long-range strategic bombers.

    JLBRIXYPLAYZ 10 months ago

    Send a water on space

  • The Odd Critic
    The Odd Critic 10 months ago

    Tom Scott videos always cheer me up, no matter the topic. That's how good he is at putting videos and explanations together.
    Thanks Tom!

  • retepaskab
    retepaskab 10 months ago

    The military good with logistics: yes, if we disregard cost.

  • Meowizard
    Meowizard 10 months ago

    Tom, fact check more. The earth is obviously flat, stop spreading lies

  • sebastiaan das
    sebastiaan das 10 months ago

    how can the north pole be the closest way when the earth is flat? Is the cold war also a hoax?

  • Дмитрий М
    Дмитрий М 10 months ago

    Reminds me about the Wall from Song of Ice and Fire

  • Toxic SCI
    Toxic SCI 10 months ago


  • Damien Tonkin
    Damien Tonkin 10 months ago

    Is this downtown Tuktoyaktuk or more the outskirts?

  • NeoRipshaft
    NeoRipshaft 10 months ago

    It's that the name of a Rush song?

  • Czeckie
    Czeckie 10 months ago

    this had to be a horrible military duty. Freezing cold and immensely boring. How long were the rotations? Was it staffed by volunteers?

    • Rachael
      Rachael Month ago

      Staffed by the RCAF, I have spoken with some people who were stationed on DEW line stations and experiences varied in terms of enjoyment.

    • Peter Gray
      Peter Gray 10 months ago +1

      Czeckie The manning personnelhad short rotations, and while stationed they had libraries, saunas, game rooms etc....

  • ThomasstevenSlater
    ThomasstevenSlater 10 months ago

    If nukes go over the north pole is Santa to thank for civilisations continued existence? That and his best friend Thor.

  • Roy Godiksen
    Roy Godiksen 10 months ago

    All this be course nobody can trust each other or leave each other alone...

  • slothfulcobra
    slothfulcobra 10 months ago

    See the problem with your title for this video is that you already have ANOTHER video about listening for nukes on the top of the world, and I thought this was an old video

  • Thumper1311
    Thumper1311 10 months ago +2

    I feel like Sue from "Life Below Zero" might have stayed at one of these locations for a short bit. Can anyone confirm?

  • Peeravat KPR
    Peeravat KPR 10 months ago

    How did u find the top of a sphere?

  • bschuss1
    bschuss1 10 months ago

    I actually just read the novel "Extraleben" (extra life) by German author Constantin Gillies. Part of it takes place in Kangerlussuaq, Greenland, and in the DEW station DYE-2 (or Ice Cap 1), although it's called differently in the book - due to creativity I guess. Never heard about the DEW line before, and now you post this :D

  • JonatasAdoM
    JonatasAdoM 10 months ago

    Looking at the thumbnail it looks like a huge Playstation move.

  • sweiland75
    sweiland75 10 months ago

    Thankfully there is no longer a threat of a nuclear war.
    *evil-eyes at America*

  • Matt Hunter
    Matt Hunter 10 months ago

    I don't think you can ruin the way of life of someone who lives in a frozen wasteland...

  • Edoardo Schnell
    Edoardo Schnell 10 months ago

    You look like you're wearing relatively light clothes! I thought that the Arctic we're a much colder place... Isn't it so?

  • Andre Drilon
    Andre Drilon 10 months ago

    Wasn't this posted last year?

  • Monty Python the Flying Circus

    Very interesting video Tom keep up the good work.

  • JonatasAdoM
    JonatasAdoM 10 months ago

    As environmentalists will flood the comment section I'd like to point out that this is a clear example that there isn't such thing as the environment when something else is at stake, if there was a meteor threat to earth nothing would be spared to stop it, not even the water we drink.

    • Mathieu Levert
      Mathieu Levert 10 months ago +1

      That doesn't mean we shouldn't do anything about it.

  • Boedromion
    Boedromion 10 months ago

    That tower with the two spherical buildings next to it kinda looks like an Armstrong Cannon.

  • borderlandsgamer9001
    borderlandsgamer9001 10 months ago

    Is this a re-upload? I feel like I've seen this before

  • Just Having Fun
    Just Having Fun 10 months ago

    I remember seeing a film about the DEW Line in elementary school in the late 1960s. It was very impressive in my young mind and emphasized the threat from the Big Bear, but it wasn't quite "duck and cover'. How times have changed.

  • StumpyJoe
    StumpyJoe 10 months ago

    Tom, Please do a video on the "rhubarb triangle"!

  • Matthew Stamp
    Matthew Stamp 10 months ago

    Are they the same as fylingdale and the golf balls on the north york moors

  • Ken Oakleaf
    Ken Oakleaf 10 months ago

    On more than one occasion in the last few years Russian aircraft have been intercepted testing Canadian air space... Much as has happened to to NATO and non-NATO allies, so it's not exactly a relic of a bygone era

    • JonatasAdoM
      JonatasAdoM 10 months ago

      But they you to believe it is hehe

  • Aalbert Torsius
    Aalbert Torsius 10 months ago +4

    "A story that I am not qualified to tell."
    Good call, Tom. It's as important to know when to talk as it is to know when to shut up.

  • GrimmReality
    GrimmReality 10 months ago

    I think the bigger threat is outgoing bombers and missiles from the USA, they are the aggressor in every war they have fought since ww2.

  • Chris R
    Chris R 10 months ago

    more important, the shortest route from russia to canada is over the north pole.

  • Camelia sinensis
    Camelia sinensis 10 months ago

    With war, the environment always loses

  • The NuggetBacon
    The NuggetBacon 10 months ago +12

    **Russians go around the line**

  • var18
    var18 10 months ago

    I'm probably in the minority here, but I think your threshold for pieces has gone down a bit too much. You're still doing a good job with videos but a few of these recent ones have been a little boring to me, especially those where you go into a couple minute cursory overview but the subject matter just isn't that interesting alone.

  • D W
    D W 10 months ago

    I couldn't find that quote by Eisenhower. "If it works, it's obsolete" seems to be attributed, mostly, to Marshall McLuhan. Perhaps it was repeated by Eisenhower at some point...but my Google-foo could not find an instance of this happening.

  • Helicarrot
    Helicarrot 10 months ago

    So, with inflation, that's about 6 billion in today's money spent, only to die 5 years later, damn

  • BooglyBoot
    BooglyBoot 10 months ago

    Next up: Smelling for Nuclear Radiation at the Top of the World, Feeling for Nuclear Warheads at the Top of the World, and Tasting for Nuclear Waste at the Top of the World.

  • Rod Zamora
    Rod Zamora 10 months ago

    Hi Tom, what's with the American pronunciation of missile? Your followers are smart enough to figure it out for themselves.

  • tearharvester
    tearharvester 10 months ago

    Cold war ain't over my brother .

  • matt b
    matt b 10 months ago

    I see a theme developing... a cold, wintry, snowy theme developing ...

  • Allie N
    Allie N 10 months ago

    Hi Tom, just an FYI - the DEW line wasn’t anywhere near the Aleutians, which are a thousand miles to the south and west. I love your work, though - especially this trip to Canada.

  • Stephen White
    Stephen White 10 months ago

    Now I know why they called it the cold war. Look at all that snow.

  • nitehawk86
    nitehawk86 10 months ago

    Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory released 12 archived videos of nuclear blasts today. Coincidence, I think not.

  • Zwind95
    Zwind95 10 months ago

    I think my statistics professor worked on DEW, he did something with northern radars overlooking the north pole

  • naota3k
    naota3k 10 months ago

    They sure love their "tuk/tut" words up there. Inuktitut, Tuktoyaktuk.

  • Mark D
    Mark D 10 months ago

    There's a duplicate of one of these in southern Canada so that they can diagnose problems and test repairs before going all the way up north as you might expect.

  • bedlutz
    bedlutz 10 months ago

    Come to alberta we have the calgary tower which is 50 years old

  • Qwerasd
    Qwerasd 10 months ago

    Didn’t you already make this video? (Edit: oh wait I’m thinking of *listening* for nuclear bombs at the top of the world.)

  • Plasmaboo
    Plasmaboo 10 months ago

    Let's say, if the north pole is the top of the world, what shape is the earth?
    A cone maybe?

  • Steve
    Steve 10 months ago

    Great vid

  • Travis Scavoni
    Travis Scavoni 10 months ago

    So we basically used America's hat to protect America from nuclear weapons raining on our heads.

  • firey_
    firey_ 10 months ago

    Justin Li

  • The British Patriot
    The British Patriot 10 months ago

    The shortest route between Russia and the US is actually the Diomede Islands!

  • Neuro Transmissions
    Neuro Transmissions 10 months ago +74

    DEW Line, eh? So that's why Mountain Dew is so radioactive green. Haha, great video as usual.

    • Zachary Schafer
      Zachary Schafer 8 months ago +1

      Mountain Dew is actually piss yellow

    • Gangreenie
      Gangreenie 9 months ago

      What’d you say about by bruva?

  • Lambda Studios
    Lambda Studios 10 months ago

    Radomes are cool.

  • Tegan Burns
    Tegan Burns 10 months ago

    DOPE dik dik meh dood

  • ha goty
    ha goty 10 months ago

    Stay in Canada

  • Fredrik Ingemarsson
    Fredrik Ingemarsson 10 months ago

    new glasses

  • MrGeekGamer
    MrGeekGamer 10 months ago

    "Not qualified to tell.."
    If you have a mouth and can speak, you're qualified.

  • lukassnakeman
    lukassnakeman 10 months ago +1

    Cold war definitely not over

  • TheHelleri
    TheHelleri 10 months ago +4

    I guess for the people stationed there it really was a cold war.

  • Javier Francisco Dibo Gómez

    Did you really travel to the freaking antartica to record a 3 minuto video

  • holdmybeer
    holdmybeer 10 months ago

    No access for Tom?? Im writing my representative right now.

  • Martijn Holland
    Martijn Holland 10 months ago

    5 October 1960Edit
    Radar equipment in Thule, Greenland mistakenly interpreted a moonrise over Norway as a large-scale Soviet missile launch. Upon receiving a report of the supposed attack, NORAD went on high alert. However, doubts about the authenticity of the attack arose due to the presence of Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev in New York as head of the USSR's United Nations delegation.[5][6][7]

  • Pass The Butter Robot
    Pass The Butter Robot 10 months ago

    I can't help feeling the world was extremely lucky to survive the cold war. Could've kicked off at any time & that would've been that.

  • brianartillery
    brianartillery 10 months ago

    Nice one, Tom.

  • Lord _ Scrubington
    Lord _ Scrubington 10 months ago

    Tom Scott
    ummm, should there not be an 'a' in this videos title?

  • Dazzling Sky
    Dazzling Sky 10 months ago


  • Toby Saunders
    Toby Saunders 10 months ago

    Russia is actually only about 89 km from Alaska (the USA). I think you meant *the mainland United States*, Tom.

  • 동첸임니다
    동첸임니다 10 months ago

    I think there’s a typo in the title.
    Is it “A Nuclear Attack” or “Nuclear Attacks.”

  • Musa G.
    Musa G. 10 months ago

    hold up... if you look at the spheres from certain angle, it looks like a certain thing (if you know what I mean)

  • II
    II 10 months ago


  • Ash Allen
    Ash Allen 10 months ago

    Saw one in iceland

  • Thibault Grr
    Thibault Grr 10 months ago

    G L A S S E S

  • Hazy J
    Hazy J 10 months ago

    One could theoretically argue that the Cold War never ended.

  • Altoclarinets
    Altoclarinets 10 months ago

    "the cold war might be over" key word: might

  • D.B. Cooper
    D.B. Cooper 10 months ago

    This is what Fylingdale Flyer is about, isn't it.

  • Nova Ammerman
    Nova Ammerman 10 months ago

    I thought you already uploaded this?