Why European Clocks are Running Slow, and British Clocks Aren't

  • Published on Mar 12, 2018
  • Many people sent me this story: it covers my favourite topics of power grids and temporal anomalies. But when the mainstream press have already covered it, how could I add something more? The answer: by adding another pet topic, Unnecessary British Patriotism. And a teasmade.
    Press release: www.entsoe.eu/news-events/announcements/announcements-archive/Pages/News/2018-03-06-press-release-continuing-frequency-deviation-in-the-continental-european-power-system.aspx
    Teasmade: amzn.to/2oYrvxb [aff. link]
    Update, April 8th 2018: they fixed the dispute, and ran the grid at 50.01Hz for a few weeks: arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2018/04/european-grid-dispute-resolved-lost-6-minutes-returned-to-oven-clocks/
    If you liked this, you may also like the video I made on how engineers keep the grid stable, and why it's getting more difficult: tvclip.biz/video/5uz6xOFWi4A/video.html
    Audio mix by Matt Gray: mattg.co.uk
    I'm at tomscott.com
    on Twitter at twitter.com/tomscott
    on Facebook at facebook.com/tomscott
    and on Snapchat and Instagram as tomscottgo

Comments • 2 801

  • Tom Scott
    Tom Scott  8 months ago +627

    Update, 8th April 2018: the dispute has been resolved, and they kept the grid at 50.01Hz for a few weeks to put things back! arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2018/04/european-grid-dispute-resolved-lost-6-minutes-returned-to-oven-clocks/

    • Phil Peko
      Phil Peko Month ago

      You can do it yourself, Max

    • Allan Richardson
      Allan Richardson 3 months ago

      mystica5551212-subs According to an article in, IIRC, Scientific American a few years back, some scientists have proposed putting combination pipeline-cables underground to ship both liquid hydrogen and DC power. The innermost layer would be made of a high temperature superconducting alloy that “only” requires liquid hydrogen; around this would be a pipeline carrying liquid hydrogen produced by electrolysis at a hydroelectric plant (which someday would have a fusion reactor powered by the deuterium concentrated by the process, in which case only the water source would be needed, not the cataract). The plant would ship the two products together: hydrogen to be packaged as portable fuel (or to run fuel cells at the receiving site), and electric power.
      I haven’t heard any more about such a project, so I don’t know whether it’s practical (yet). But there are superconductors that operate at liquid nitrogen temperatures, and one day there may be “room temperature” superconductors.

    • mystica5551212-subs
      mystica5551212-subs 3 months ago +2

      +Allan Richardson no, not superconductive as that requires very very cold temps which would take rather ludicrous amounts of both liquid helium and power to achieve. On the order of Large Hadron Collider size. At least the one to the Netherlands... France, only a semi-ludicrous amount.

    • Watch maker
      Watch maker 3 months ago +3

      Actually, you've got that backwards. Technically, for the same average voltage, DC works better then AC. A phenomenon called skin effect concentrates oscillating current towards the edges of a conductor, reducing the cross-sectional area, and combined with the natural inductance of the wire, raises the resistance.
      However, where AC wins over DC is in the ability to step the voltages up or down with purely passive components - transformers. Which is a major consideration for distributing electricity, especially to the individual users. A single, point-to-point high-voltage transmission line, however, can just offset the cost of switching to and from DC by the energy saved in vastly reduced transmission losses.

    • Buddy Clem
      Buddy Clem 4 months ago

      Sam Dettle HVDC (High Voltage Direct Current) is more efficient than AC, but it's also much more expensive, so over long distances, the cost-to-benefit ratio tips in the favor of HVDC over AC.

  • Jan Tuts
    Jan Tuts 6 days ago

    +Tom Scott
    As of today, there is an underwater power cable, called Nemo Link, connecting the British and Belgian grids, the latter of which is also connected to The Netherlands', France' and Luxemburg's grids, etc.
    So, in the future, similar cases as the one set out in the video would likely no longer have the same effect.

  • xuridun
    xuridun 8 days ago

    50hz is a lot less efficient for AC power delivery than 60hz, the decision to base the british and european grids on 50hz has cost 100's of billions to trillions in waste over the history of electricity.

  • kirwanqueren
    kirwanqueren Month ago

    I love that you held that appliance the entire time..... even though you did not have to....

  • Matt Wood
    Matt Wood Month ago

    Because Britain is the best in the world

  • Landon Jennings
    Landon Jennings Month ago

    These cables bring to mind a lot of questions:
    1) Why are there cables connecting the grids?
    2) What is the energy loss to use DC instead of AC (HS science always told us that AC is much more efficient over long distances)?
    3) Why was DC chosen for these Cables?

  • Articwolf4123
    Articwolf4123 Month ago

    British clocks run on tea confirmed.

  • Donald Trump
    Donald Trump Month ago

    As a full blooded american... I want that tea clock thing.... that sounds awesome

  • Lee Oliver
    Lee Oliver Month ago

    High power dc transmission? So Edison was right?

  • Mixter911 _
    Mixter911 _ Month ago

    Why you not use a clock with batteries?

  • bittewarten
    bittewarten Month ago

    yea yea yea be quiet, who has their steering wheel on the wrong side here huh?

  • seven
    seven Month ago

    lovely weather by the way

  • •
     Month ago

    Such Britishness

  • reuben sanjay
    reuben sanjay Month ago

    that patriotism though..

  • God Umpa
    God Umpa Month ago

    Who has a clock connected to power in 2018...

    EVILBUNNY28 Month ago +1

    I’ve literally never felt so proud to be British in my life.

  • Vincent Perrier
    Vincent Perrier Month ago

    Hello from eastern canada, where electricity comes from dams and our cycle is 60hz so our lights bulbs don't drive us crazy.

  • Noice
    Noice Month ago


  • Pieh0
    Pieh0 Month ago

    3:27 Hopefully the clocks will be the only thing remaining...

  • Wrog
    Wrog Month ago

    this video has exactly 743,000 views!

  • vk3hau
    vk3hau Month ago

    for a moment I thought you had gone all " Tim Brooke Taylor " on us..

  • VladNex
    VladNex Month ago


  • alex tworkowski
    alex tworkowski Month ago

    Mehdi sent me.

  • Leestons
    Leestons Month ago

    Electroboom sent me here

  • flightisallright
    flightisallright 2 months ago

    stupid clock

  • ZoonCrypticon
    ZoonCrypticon 2 months ago

    So at least, thanks to your Queen, the Brexit will be on time with 50 cycles , whilst for us continental Europeans your Brexit will be 6 minutes too late in our deep-felt perception of time.
    Anyways, wish you luck with your Brexit, as on the continental side the EU politicians are destroying , what is left from the good old times, at much higher rates and frequencies as 50 cycles.

  • Marcus Taber
    Marcus Taber 2 months ago

    So that would run 16% faster in North America.

  • Pate Jate
    Pate Jate 2 months ago

    Sorry, but Finland, Sweden and Norway aren't connected to that grid. Our coffee machines are exactly on schedule here!

  • edgeeffect
    edgeeffect 2 months ago

    I think the only time politics has ever actually SOLVED anything, is when the politicians have mutually agreed to shut up their idiot drivel.

  • maulanamalique
    maulanamalique 2 months ago

    that was quite dumb to use power outlet frequency for timing your clock...

  • Rrifle mann
    Rrifle mann 2 months ago

    The 100 year history of the Teas maid is fascinating , ( hint) , plus.. the greatest (appliance) achievement of Britain-teas maid, Japan, bread maker, Electric toaster- Scottish , the electric drip coffee maker - Germany

  • Happy Chip
    Happy Chip 2 months ago

    making clocks from mains power frequency is just lame. Using 50Hz or 60Hz calibrated signal is way better idea.

  • Mr. Trending
    Mr. Trending 2 months ago +3

    ElectroBoomers !!

  • Harry Parkin
    Harry Parkin 2 months ago

    I blame brexit

  • ransom182
    ransom182 2 months ago

    50 British Hz 😂

  • Ralph Hayes
    Ralph Hayes 2 months ago

    Isle of grain Kent!

  • Riilu
    Riilu 3 months ago

    What modern appliances still use this, most everything I've touched with a built-in clock has a dedicated crystal oscillator for its clock.

  • Jake Bamford-Elsdon
    Jake Bamford-Elsdon 3 months ago

    as a brit, i now feel very patriotic 🇬🇧🇬🇧🇬🇧
    and i haven’t for some time, so thank you

  • CoolAsFreya
    CoolAsFreya 3 months ago

    “God save the queen, and god save us all”

  • Gyrocompa
    Gyrocompa 3 months ago +1

    God save the Queen, her kettle and her tea !

  • Backfisch Inderjemmel
    Backfisch Inderjemmel 3 months ago

    The thing is... nobody in Europe uses clocks which are connected to the grid anymore they all run on battery

  • oliver vincent
    oliver vincent 3 months ago

    That sharp brexiteer roast was on point

  • Matthew Trzcinski
    Matthew Trzcinski 3 months ago +1

    Southern California started with 50 cycle equipment, and to hook into a grid they had to switch to the 60 hz everyone else was running. So the power company opened a shop where clocks could be brought to have their gears changed out for free.

  • Cody Slab
    Cody Slab 3 months ago

    *LMAO @ Union Jack tshirt in the end*

  • Greed23
    Greed23 3 months ago

    I like how british people seperate Britain from Europe...
    Even though Britain is in Europe.

  • Skizzofonik
    Skizzofonik 3 months ago

    "god save the queen and god help us all!"
    made my day

  • Jacob Thomas
    Jacob Thomas 3 months ago

    We British, we have the best clocks maw ha ha ha ha!

  • zachary evans
    zachary evans 3 months ago +1

    this is what brexit was all about.

  • Conor O'Loughlin
    Conor O'Loughlin 4 months ago

    So does this mean that Ireland has it's own grid?

  • Felenov-official
    Felenov-official 4 months ago

    British alarm clocks...
    Alarm clock with tea. The most British kind of clock

  • Kieran Mullen
    Kieran Mullen 4 months ago

    Does the UK not have an atomic clock radio signal like the USA?

    • Hob Moor
      Hob Moor 3 months ago

      Kieran. Yes, it does have an atomic clock signal. The whole world has access to atomic clocks. It's just that some manufacturers like to save money by not installing an atomic clock receiver; they use the power grid cycle for accuracy instead (cheaper) - and, as Tom says in the video, it's accurate enough for most people.

  • lindsey607
    lindsey607 4 months ago

    Just another example of British disfunction. Imbeciles.

    • Hob Moor
      Hob Moor 3 months ago

      lindsey607 - Britons (generally) like disfunction and dislike perfection. A little bit of chaos is good for us. And, we've been called a lot worse than imbeciles; but we all die sometime, so why worry.

  • sobolanul96
    sobolanul96 4 months ago

    We had it so bad about 17-18 years ago that my clock would loose 6 to 12 hours a week making it absolutely useless. It took two months for the idiots to fix their crappy equipment.

  • Daniel Klausen
    Daniel Klausen 4 months ago

    Love how this became British propaganda by the end

  • Edson Manuel Carballo Vera

    God Save the Queen. And God Help us All.

  • Sayden
    Sayden 4 months ago +1

    Britain is in Europe...

  • Steve Russell
    Steve Russell 5 months ago

    So true about the microwaves

  • TheHaighus
    TheHaighus 5 months ago

    Where can I get one of those marvellous devices!

  • Allan Richardson
    Allan Richardson 5 months ago

    One documentary I saw several years back said that the (continental "lower 48) US has three major power grids: East Coast, West Coast, and Texas. There are several links between the East and West, but none with Texas (at the time of that program). Since Texas was an independent country for about a decade before joining the US (then attempting to secede and join the Confederacy, then rejoin the US), they still think of themselves as a separate nation from the rest of us. Even though this was also true of California (hence the Bear Flag) and Hawaii (the only US state with a former royal palace), only Texas acts so entitled.

  • David Nicol
    David Nicol 5 months ago

    World's greatest outro.

  • altermetax
    altermetax 5 months ago

    Hey, Britain is part of Europe

  • Mr. W
    Mr. W 5 months ago

    Tea? Only when I’m feeling ill. Otherwise it’s COFFEE.

  • Stonedude123
    Stonedude123 5 months ago +1

    An alarm clock that starts tea so when it goes off the tea is done... Where can I buy one?

  • The Dave
    The Dave 5 months ago

    My teasmade uses an atomic resonator.

  • swingstylez
    swingstylez 5 months ago

    You reminded me of Tim Brook Taylor, when he was in The Goodies, at the end there :D

  • iso kasa
    iso kasa 5 months ago

    Britain isn't in Europe?

  • Expo Aviation
    Expo Aviation 5 months ago

    I just nearly spilled my tea laughing at the oven clock remark...

  • David Ball
    David Ball 5 months ago

    The EU is dumb

  • Dominique Gobeil
    Dominique Gobeil 5 months ago

    In Canada we use crystal oscillation in our clock. It's 2018 you know.

  • Guffa95
    Guffa95 6 months ago

    Every microwave I’ve ever earned has needed resetting every month or two because they slowly drift too fast. God knows why

  • Eesteban Castellanos
    Eesteban Castellanos 6 months ago

    Why use the electric frequency to keep time tho?, it sounds rather inefficient

  • ThisIsARubbishName
    ThisIsARubbishName 6 months ago

    You can get teasmaids still!?! Bloody hell!
    E: I like the end bit, reminded me of that bit in The Goodies where Bill smashes the vinyl over Tim's head; "We shall build...a fine...." /smash\
    Also made me laugh with the dress.

  • Bertrand Thibodeau
    Bertrand Thibodeau 6 months ago

    You should come to the Canadian part of the Empire where we run at 60Hz and all works fine! ... Until a coronal mass ejection occurs that is...

  • Brendan
    Brendan 6 months ago

    Can u really say they're slow in Europe, if every clock is slow then surely the perception is that none of them are slow? I know technically of mathematically they are slow.

  • Ayanami Rei
    Ayanami Rei 6 months ago


  • Jon Johnson
    Jon Johnson 6 months ago

    Next week, Tom Scott and Nigel Farage discuss immigration over a pint

  • Lord Smiley
    Lord Smiley 6 months ago +2

    Tom gets way too patriotic should be a video.

  • Benji Bat
    Benji Bat 6 months ago

    Wow, did NOT expect that to be the reason why!

  • boobbob 00
    boobbob 00 6 months ago

    Our vibrators vibrate at the right rate...

  • TheMostEpicUserEver
    TheMostEpicUserEver 6 months ago

    disgustingly british

  • Glass Pug
    Glass Pug 6 months ago

    If the sun never sets on the British empire will the alarm ever go off?

  • microcolonel
    microcolonel 6 months ago

    Brexit? Breakfast.

  • Manticore Inc.
    Manticore Inc. 6 months ago

    I'm feeling oddly patriotic now.

  • Santiago_n
    Santiago_n 7 months ago

    I want that clock seriously. It's a great invention and in moving to England.

  • A Martin
    A Martin 7 months ago

    Real countries run their clocks on 60hz, 110v, as God and George Westinghouse intended. Or on a few AA batteries, as a pink percussionist rabbit intended.

  • Xydez
    Xydez 7 months ago +2

    You know britain is IN europe right?

  • enricmm85
    enricmm85 7 months ago

    What about Ireland?

  • Rucha
    Rucha 7 months ago

    This was hilariously informative!

  • RedCowCat
    RedCowCat 7 months ago +1

    The solutions is stop issuing those clocks... I'm sure nobody relies only on them.

  • Phillip Aboody
    Phillip Aboody 7 months ago

    A new measurement akin to Watt Hours and Amp Hours: Hertz Hours or Hertz Days.
    To see if the clocks are working correctly.

  • Lord Dice X
    Lord Dice X 7 months ago +1

    But what about at tea time? Doesn't the power surge?

  • Angel Ensefalon
    Angel Ensefalon 7 months ago

    Do understand that running machinery at higher Hertz rates, Can be weary on the generators

  • TomoyaMemez
    TomoyaMemez 7 months ago

    America is all running right and we don't have gross tea clocks

  • Louis Brown
    Louis Brown 7 months ago

    You almost produced quintessential Britishness... but then you used the American pronunciation of 'schedule' at the end of the video :/

  • Peter Smythe
    Peter Smythe 7 months ago

    "Supply and demand."
    Wait.. so that means... With enough energy storage... We could engage in speculative power trading! Doubling or halving the electricity prices on the scale of minutes? Sounds great!

  • anders kamrath
    anders kamrath 7 months ago

    I live in denmark and mine is only 1 minutes behind

  • TheBraveGallade
    TheBraveGallade 7 months ago

    I want an alarm with tea!

  • Zach Brenner
    Zach Brenner 7 months ago +2

    So, European clocks in America will run super fast

    • Alcide Cloridrix
      Alcide Cloridrix 3 months ago

      Indeed. Plug any induction motor (washing machine motor for example) into a 220V US outlet, you'll get 20% more RPM.

  • trublgrl
    trublgrl 7 months ago

    Having ZERO foreknowledge of this topic, I read "Why European Clocks are Running Slow, and British Clocks Aren't" and immediately knew the answer was "The EU". Kudos to the UK for bailing out of that irrational agreement.

  • Faizan Khattak
    Faizan Khattak 7 months ago

    [british pride intensifies]