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 • 2 809

  • Tom Scott
    Tom Scott  Year ago +822

    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/

    • newton.
      newton. 3 months ago

      that's perfect.

    • munender singh
      munender singh 4 months ago


    • Phil Peko
      Phil Peko 7 months ago

      You can do it yourself, Max

    • Allan Richardson
      Allan Richardson 8 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 8 months ago +3

      +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.

  • David Guthary
    David Guthary 3 days ago

    Any particular reason why it's 50 Hz in Europe and 60 Hz in the Americas?

    • MrcabooseVG
      MrcabooseVG Hour ago

      Just old standards, by the time anyone thought "we should probably make it the same" it was way too late. Not a problem these days with everything being digital but back in the analogue days much like the aforementioned clocks the frequency of the electricity synchronised everything, that's why British TV is 25fps because it's exactly half and keeps the video and audio in synch but the US standard is 30fps which is again half of their frequency. Video game consoles used to have games run slower in Europe vs Japan or the US too because non of the developers thought to adjust it so it ran at full speed on PAL. Japan i believe has different frequency depending on what part of the country you're in, i bet that's bloody annoying

  • Jason Christiansen
    Jason Christiansen 5 days ago

    Principal of reactance..... fun time with right angle trigonometry;)

  • Holzkohlen
    Holzkohlen 17 days ago

    Such a great ending. Perhaps the best one since the video about toaster settings not correlating with minutes or something.

    xXJAKMACKXx 19 days ago

    I thought Brits pronounced schedule without the "sk"sound

  • Caitlin B
    Caitlin B 22 days ago

    You really channeled Tim Brooke-Taylor at the end there

  • Edward Trickett
    Edward Trickett 26 days ago

    Feeling patriotic now

  • Konseq
    Konseq Month ago

    Title indicates Britain never felt like it is/was part of Europe.

  • Julius Eskola
    Julius Eskola Month ago

    Hahaha...I checked my clock, but then remembered that my country is in NORDEL, not UCTE.

  • Luka Kresoja
    Luka Kresoja Month ago


  • Hawk Pants
    Hawk Pants Month ago

    I love the pure patriotism and the national anthem at the end

  • John Way
    John Way Month ago

    a bit monty pythonish at then end there...or tim brooke taylorish

  • CharlesinGA
    CharlesinGA Month ago

    Never have figured out how anyone thought 50 Hz was a good idea, when time is divided into increments of 60 (60 seconds, 60 minutes).

  • Spegix1
    Spegix1 Month ago

    The most British invention :-D

  • EoRdE6
    EoRdE6 2 months ago +1

    "Hey Steve come look out the window, Is that guy in the field wearing a Union Jack loincloth, holding a teasmade and talking to himself? Are we supposed to like call security?"

  • Daniel Webb
    Daniel Webb 2 months ago

    Right on time old chap 🇬🇧🇬🇧🇬🇧

  • Mittron
    Mittron 2 months ago

    Isn’t Britain a part of EU?

    • Pauli Vaara
      Pauli Vaara Month ago

      At the moment, yes, but in the (near-ish) future -- more likely not. But even among EU countries the power grids in all countries are not connected. Typically there are clusters of varying number of neighboring countries that have their grids synchronized, but at some point the grids are separated, and the power is transferred in DC.

  • Brandon Martin-Moore
    Brandon Martin-Moore 2 months ago +1

    The subtitles in Spanish are absolutely perfect, with little British jokes put in their perfect Spanish equivalent.

  • Sarreq Teryx
    Sarreq Teryx 2 months ago

    clock and appliance makers: maybe don't cheap out, put a proper RTC timer in your clocks, and stop relying on grid sync?

  • Richard Scott
    Richard Scott 2 months ago

    You didnt say schedule correctly mate

  • Nunya Business
    Nunya Business 2 months ago

    I'm american and I'm so confused

  • Jake L
    Jake L 2 months ago

    I knew Brexit was right! :D

  • you're*
    you're* 3 months ago

    3:43 The new British motto

  • Cameron Allen
    Cameron Allen 3 months ago


  • Games With Nic
    Games With Nic 3 months ago

    We have automatic coffee makers in the US as well. Not all coffee makers have the alarm, but most are programmable to start coffee at a certain time. About as hard to program as a VCR, though.

  • sarcasmo57
    sarcasmo57 3 months ago +1

    Should plant some trees on that island.

  • Katie Cowan
    Katie Cowan 3 months ago

    Then if the USA runs on 60hz does that mean our clocks are super fast? What about my car clock that will always get to 20 minutes fast no matter how I set it back.

  • Micah Philson
    Micah Philson 4 months ago +1

    1:38 "If you think I'm going to try and explain the Balkan politics system while holding a Teasmade, you're sorely mistaken."
    That actually sounds like a normal day for Tom Scott. Now I want to see that!

  • Daniel Diaz
    Daniel Diaz 4 months ago

    Very informative and I particularly enjoyed the patriotism but at the end

  • groszak1
    groszak1 4 months ago +1

    how about Microsoft Windows clocks? the frequency Microsoft Windows operates at is always 60.0000000000 Hz so it should be exact

  • groszak1
    groszak1 4 months ago +1

    Who else paused at 3:20 to see if it's something else making that music?

  • The Freudian theory Of penis envy

    I watch this video when I’m sad

  • Sebastian Rošker
    Sebastian Rošker 4 months ago

    You guys make a great work doing these videos.

  • Ayrton Denner
    Ayrton Denner 4 months ago


  • Jeffrey V.
    Jeffrey V. 4 months ago

    How would this affect power usage over this period? If my understanding of electronics is good enough, I would think that a lower frequency would mean the power companies can charge for less electricity being used. Then, should the frequency be bumped up higher than the 50 Hz agreed upon by the officials, raise the power bill for that period?
    Basically what I'm asking is... could you theoretically cause a frequency drop to save on your household power bill?

  • Several Fighters
    Several Fighters 4 months ago

    I live near the isle of grain. It's truly delightful.

  • Several Fighters
    Several Fighters 4 months ago

    This is the only good reason for Brexit.

  • Jonathan Chesnutt
    Jonathan Chesnutt 5 months ago

    For all the American viewers, look up Isle of Grain in Google maps/earth. You see just how different our idea of “in the middle nowhere is compared to the european idea of “in the middle of nowhere”.

  • Jan Tuts
    Jan Tuts 5 months 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 5 months 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 6 months ago

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

  • Matt Wood
    Matt Wood 6 months ago

    Because Britain is the best in the world

  • Landon Jennings
    Landon Jennings 6 months 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 6 months ago

    British clocks run on tea confirmed.

  • Frowlinian
    Frowlinian 6 months ago

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

  • Lee Oliver
    Lee Oliver 6 months ago

    High power dc transmission? So Edison was right?

  • Mixter911 _
    Mixter911 _ 6 months ago

    Why you not use a clock with batteries?

  • bittewarten
    bittewarten 6 months ago

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

  • seven
    seven 6 months ago

    lovely weather by the way

  • ShadowPlague subtopewds btw

    Such Britishness

  • reuben sanjay
    reuben sanjay 6 months ago

    that patriotism though..

  • God Umpa
    God Umpa 6 months ago

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

    EVILBUNNY28 6 months ago +1

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

  • Vincent Perrier
    Vincent Perrier 6 months 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 7 months ago


  • Pieh0
    Pieh0 7 months ago

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

  • Wrog
    Wrog 7 months ago

    this video has exactly 743,000 views!

  • vk3hau
    vk3hau 7 months ago

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

  • VladNex
    VladNex 7 months ago


  • alex tworkowski
    alex tworkowski 7 months ago

    Mehdi sent me.

  • Leestons
    Leestons 7 months ago

    Electroboom sent me here

  • flightisallright
    flightisallright 7 months ago

    stupid clock

  • ZoonCrypticon
    ZoonCrypticon 7 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 7 months ago

    So that would run 16% faster in North America.

  • Pate Jate
    Pate Jate 7 months ago

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

  • edgeeffect
    edgeeffect 7 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 7 months ago

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

  • Rrifle mann
    Rrifle mann 7 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 7 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 7 months ago +3

    ElectroBoomers !!

  • Harry Parkin
    Harry Parkin 7 months ago

    I blame brexit

  • ransom182
    ransom182 7 months ago

    50 British Hz 😂

  • Ralph Hayes
    Ralph Hayes 7 months ago

    Isle of grain Kent!

  • Riilu
    Riilu 8 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 8 months ago

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

  • CoolAsFreya
    CoolAsFreya 8 months ago

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

  • Gyrocompa
    Gyrocompa 8 months ago +1

    God save the Queen, her kettle and her tea !

  • Backfisch Inderjemmel
    Backfisch Inderjemmel 8 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 8 months ago

    That sharp brexiteer roast was on point

  • Matthew Trzcinski
    Matthew Trzcinski 9 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 9 months ago

    *LMAO @ Union Jack tshirt in the end*

  • Greed23
    Greed23 9 months ago

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

  • Skizzofonik
    Skizzofonik 9 months ago

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

  • Jacob Thomas
    Jacob Thomas 9 months ago

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

  • zachary evans
    zachary evans 9 months ago +1

    this is what brexit was all about.

  • Conor O'Loughlin
    Conor O'Loughlin 9 months ago

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

  • Felenov-official
    Felenov-official 9 months ago

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

  • Kieran Mullen
    Kieran Mullen 9 months ago

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

    • Hob Moor
      Hob Moor 8 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 9 months ago

    Just another example of British disfunction. Imbeciles.

    • Hob Moor
      Hob Moor 8 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 9 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.

  • NomNom Nomuron
    NomNom Nomuron 9 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 Prætorius
    Sayden Prætorius 10 months ago +1

    Britain is in Europe...

  • Steve Russell
    Steve Russell 10 months ago

    So true about the microwaves

  • TheHaighus
    TheHaighus 10 months ago

    Where can I get one of those marvellous devices!

  • Allan Richardson
    Allan Richardson 10 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 10 months ago

    World's greatest outro.

  • altermetax
    altermetax 10 months ago

    Hey, Britain is part of Europe

  • Mr. W
    Mr. W 10 months ago

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

  • Stonedude123
    Stonedude123 10 months ago +1

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