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 • 339

  • Tom Scott
    Tom Scott  8 months ago +843

    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 4 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 7 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 7 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 7 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 7 months ago

      Tom Scott x

  • Harp Seal Power
    Harp Seal Power Month ago

    But will it be used to delete fortnite?

  • Green Keldeo
    Green Keldeo Month ago

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

  • Lance Nostrum
    Lance Nostrum Month 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 3 months ago

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

  • 19kc88
    19kc88 4 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 4 months ago

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

  • Matt Ryans
    Matt Ryans 4 months ago


  • Jonas Knickenberg
    Jonas Knickenberg 4 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 4 months ago

    Flat earthers are not happy about this

  • STR1 _
    STR1 _ 4 months ago

    Well thats phallic.

  • GamingWessel
    GamingWessel 4 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 6 months ago

    Does anyone know what plane was shown at 0:55

    • Tevildo
      Tevildo Month ago

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

  • Paul Potter
    Paul Potter 6 months ago

    They're going to need it again soon!

  • Jason Irwin
    Jason Irwin 6 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.

  • Concerned Citizen
    Concerned Citizen 7 months ago

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

  • Kenji Gunawan
    Kenji Gunawan 7 months ago

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

  • Emil Carr
    Emil Carr 7 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 7 months ago

    If only it could stop propaganda...

  • Alexander Mashin
    Alexander Mashin 7 months ago

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

    JLBRIXYPLAYZ TV 7 months ago

    Send a water on space

  • The Odd Critic
    The Odd Critic 7 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 7 months ago

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

  • Meowizard
    Meowizard 7 months ago

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

  • sebastiaan das
    sebastiaan das 7 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 7 months ago

    Reminds me about the Wall from Song of Ice and Fire

  • Toxic SCI
    Toxic SCI 7 months ago


  • Damien Tonkin
    Damien Tonkin 7 months ago

    Is this downtown Tuktoyaktuk or more the outskirts?

  • NeoRipshaft
    NeoRipshaft 7 months ago

    It's that the name of a Rush song?

  • Czeckie
    Czeckie 7 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?

    • Peter Gray
      Peter Gray 7 months ago +1

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

  • ThomasstevenSlater
    ThomasstevenSlater 7 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 7 months ago

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

  • slothfulcobra
    slothfulcobra 7 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 7 months ago +1

    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 7 months ago

    How did u find the top of a sphere?

  • bschuss1
    bschuss1 7 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 7 months ago

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

  • sweiland75
    sweiland75 7 months ago

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

  • Matt Hunter
    Matt Hunter 7 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 7 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 7 months ago

    Wasn't this posted last year?

  • Monty Python the Flying Circus

    Very interesting video Tom keep up the good work.

  • JonatasAdoM
    JonatasAdoM 7 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 7 months ago +1

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

  • Boedromion
    Boedromion 7 months ago

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

  • borderlandsgamer9001
    borderlandsgamer9001 7 months ago

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

  • Just Having Fun
    Just Having Fun 7 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 7 months ago

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

  • Matthew Stamp
    Matthew Stamp 7 months ago

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

  • Ken Oakleaf
    Ken Oakleaf 7 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 7 months ago

      But they you to believe it is hehe

  • Aalbert Torsius
    Aalbert Torsius 7 months ago +1

    "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 7 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 7 months ago

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

  • Camelia sinensis
    Camelia sinensis 7 months ago

    With war, the environment always loses

  • The NuggetBacon
    The NuggetBacon 7 months ago +12

    **Russians go around the line**

  • var18
    var18 7 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 7 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.

  • HikingViking
    HikingViking 7 months ago

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

  • BooglyBoot
    BooglyBoot 7 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 7 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 7 months ago

    Cold war ain't over my brother .

  • matt b
    matt b 7 months ago

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

  • Allie N
    Allie N 7 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 7 months ago

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

  • nitehawk86
    nitehawk86 7 months ago

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

  • Zwind95
    Zwind95 7 months ago

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

  • naota3k
    naota3k 7 months ago

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

  • Mark D
    Mark D 7 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 7 months ago

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

  • Qwerasd
    Qwerasd 7 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 7 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 7 months ago

    Great vid

  • Travis Scavoni
    Travis Scavoni 7 months ago

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

  • firey_
    firey_ 7 months ago

    Justin Li

  • The British Patriot
    The British Patriot 7 months ago

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

  • Neuro Transmissions
    Neuro Transmissions 7 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 5 months ago +1

      Mountain Dew is actually piss yellow

    • Gangreenie
      Gangreenie 6 months ago

      What’d you say about by bruva?

  • Lambda Studios
    Lambda Studios 7 months ago

    Radomes are cool.

  • Tegan Burns
    Tegan Burns 7 months ago

    DOPE dik dik meh dood

  • ha goty
    ha goty 7 months ago

    Stay in Canada

  • Fredrik Ingemarsson
    Fredrik Ingemarsson 7 months ago

    new glasses

  • MrGeekGamer
    MrGeekGamer 7 months ago

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

  • lukassnakeman
    lukassnakeman 7 months ago +1

    Cold war definitely not over

  • TheHelleri
    TheHelleri 7 months ago +2

    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 7 months ago

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

  • Martijn Holland
    Martijn Holland 7 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 7 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 7 months ago

    Nice one, Tom.

  • Lord _ Scrubington
    Lord _ Scrubington 7 months ago

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

  • Dazzling Sky
    Dazzling Sky 7 months ago


  • Toby Saunders
    Toby Saunders 7 months ago

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

  • 동첸임니다
    동첸임니다 7 months ago

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

  • Musa G.
    Musa G. 7 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 7 months ago


  • Ash Allen
    Ash Allen 7 months ago

    Saw one in iceland

  • Thibault Grr
    Thibault Grr 7 months ago

    G L A S S E S

  • Hazy J
    Hazy J 7 months ago

    One could theoretically argue that the Cold War never ended.

  • Altoclarinets
    Altoclarinets 7 months ago

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