Why danger symbols can’t last forever

  • に公開 2018/01/26
  • How to design fear, explained with 99% Invisible. Check them out here: 99pi.org
    Correction: The correct spelling of “warning” in Persian is هشدار.
    Watch the previous episode from this series: bit.ly/2DDIQAL
    Subscribe to our channel! 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: 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 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 www.vox.com
    Check out our full video catalog: goo.gl/IZONyE
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コメント数 • 5 246

  • Vox
    Vox  8 ヶ月 前 +890

    Watch the previous video from our partnership with 99% Invisible here: bit.ly/2DDIQAL

    • Kimoji
      Kimoji 4 日 前

      My aunt's ex boyfriend's dad (from many years ago) designed the danger gas flammable signs on gas trucks and made $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$.

    • Timothy Benjamin
      Timothy Benjamin 5 日 前

      Screw VOX

    • Iz Flash
      Iz Flash 9 日 前

      The Arabic version of warning or attention is wrong

    • NPC#1911-EGUK
      NPC#1911-EGUK ヶ月 前

      The skull is a timeless indicator of death.

    • King Covfefe
      King Covfefe 2 ヶ月 前

      that was utterly pointless

  • Ascender2306
    Ascender2306 日 前

    I dont know about the other stuff, but a bioluminiscent cat would be cool.

  • hab eang
    hab eang 日 前

    Could we just write "Warning!" ?

  • Costel Vaman
    Costel Vaman 日 前

    A magenta uneven rectangle

  • David Boggs
    David Boggs 日 前

    Look, if I go to enter a place and I see a spooky looking old, rusted jolly roger that leads into a dark place?
    I'm not only turning around and leaving, but running. And will likely be frightened by it for some time

  • Phallusy
    Phallusy 2 日 前


  • DD-649
    DD-649 2 日 前

    Lol, the scull and crossbones actually represent a toxic material today, and the treasure connotation is just from kids who think of pirates with buried treasure.

  • WHODAT9421
    WHODAT9421 2 日 前

    1:23 why did his voice get really deep then get low again?

  • francis wehbe
    francis wehbe 2 日 前

    The spike field is scary as crap

  • LoneDespair
    LoneDespair 2 日 前

    Just leave the site buried underground and the surface look untouched
    Even how many warnings you place their, curiosity will always make the future generation to wonder inside that infrastructure

  • DeQuillsta
    DeQuillsta 3 日 前

    Yeahhh, I don't think creating the Children of Atom is the answer here...

  • Generasi Sawojajar
    Generasi Sawojajar 4 日 前 +1

    1:44 *Other dude joined chat*

  • Vikings Fan
    Vikings Fan 4 日 前

    When i see the skull painted on door I automatically think of danger or electricity. How can anyone think about pirates?

  • Lost PJ
    Lost PJ 5 日 前

    The Germans had a Skull and Crossbones Symbol

  • Lost PJ
    Lost PJ 5 日 前

    Glowstar of ChernobylClan

  • Zector
    Zector 5 日 前

    Everyone knows the arrow sign, it's like a command to see something. Putting an arrow pointing at something that causes death or is death could be universably understandable.

  • Mu You
    Mu You 5 日 前

    6:14 In "Shinsekai Yori," they did a "warning" system based on giant genetically modified cats...

  • Passive Pixel
    Passive Pixel 5 日 前

    Please make more videos like this! This video was actually thought provoking.

  • Timothy Benjamin
    Timothy Benjamin 5 日 前

    how are the Vikings still in this conversation? they're just barely above .500 with a loss to the bills, and could also lose to the Jets this week with how they've been playing

  • Get Down
    Get Down 6 日 前

    if i see spikes in the middle of nowhere id rather run away than stare

  • Amar EK
    Amar EK 6 日 前

    4Chan should be the new symbol of radioactive materials....

  • Franken Stein
    Franken Stein 6 日 前 +1

    I want a bioluminescent Geiger cat tho.

  • Kyousou
    Kyousou 6 日 前

    Semiotic ? Symbiotic !

  • theninja
    theninja 6 日 前

    Btw the jolly Rodger was almost never used and a plain black flag was for death

  • Ultra Window
    Ultra Window 6 日 前

    why try to prevent natural selection?

  • JA VV
    JA VV 7 日 前

    Ok but If i see a glowing cat id think it was neat

  • Bill Cipher
    Bill Cipher 7 日 前

    Let's just make a giant to do list.


    Jolly Roger is a fortnite glider lol...

    ZOE SELTZER 7 日 前

    I mean the skull and crossbones is just a symbol of edge at this point

  • Andrew Wong
    Andrew Wong 7 日 前

    Any future "civilization" that doesn't understand causality probably doesn't really need to be kept safe from radiation.

  • Simon Parnell
    Simon Parnell 8 日 前

    Benford states that he thinks the catholic or Jewish religions are the oldest lasting institutions. What a cretin.

  • Miles Fanboy113
    Miles Fanboy113 8 日 前 +1

    Danger Signs : I Dont Feel So Good...

  • Genration Genration

    Why not something like picasso's screaming man?

  • dude who likes dinosuars

    notice it
    -go there-

  • Jeffrey Teets
    Jeffrey Teets 8 日 前

    I want a cat that glows.

  • Sidney Meyers
    Sidney Meyers 8 日 前

    That'd be an interesting thing to cover in a Fallout game. Maybe the radioactive symbol eventually comes to mean fallout shelter, due to places that can be irradiated also having protection from the irradiation everywhere, and eventually the symbol would even mean oasis.

  • Xenosile -
    Xenosile - 9 日 前

    I do not like vox’s fake news but I do enjoy these non-political videos

  • Your Everyday Internet Cancer

    Cat version glowing one

  • Mokongthe3
    Mokongthe3 9 日 前 +1

    How about just teach it to the children, through years that could work.

  • Dylan Wang
    Dylan Wang 9 日 前

    3:43 watch me wip, wip and watch me n-
    Wait wrong wip

  • innertubez
    innertubez 9 日 前

    Skull and crossbones still seems dangerous to me. Also why not just show a human corpse?

  • Trevor Philips
    Trevor Philips 9 日 前

    Or..we could just write down what they mean and make backups

  • MrTygger
    MrTygger 9 日 前

    I SWEAR TO GOD I THOUGHT THE BACKGROUND MUSIC WAS KRAFTWERK (i forgot the name of the song i think its telephone line) AT 5:05

  • Zwagboy
    Zwagboy 10 日 前

    Newest hazard warning symbol is the rainbow flag, which within itself was ripped off some other thing

  • Cristian Ventura
    Cristian Ventura 10 日 前

    0:11 its means "PELIGRO" :v

  • h
    h 10 日 前

    I like danger symbols.... They're cool and all but... I will not like to see them get try it out....,😰😰😰

  • PoisoningOrchid
    PoisoningOrchid 11 日 前

    Are we gonna ignore the fact that radiation hazard represents inverse square law?

  • IMustTurd
    IMustTurd 13 日 前

    All the gender symbols ruined this

  • RoyalMarauder ,
    RoyalMarauder , 14 日 前

    wait i thought philosiphy was wizardry?
    Cmon, harry, work with me!

  • Kurumi Ebisuzawa
    Kurumi Ebisuzawa 14 日 前 +1

    Millions of tax dollars later all we came up with was glowing cats. Give me a break.

  • Gavyn Tapp
    Gavyn Tapp 14 日 前

    At the beginning, what’s the music in the background

  • Steve Birks
    Steve Birks 15 日 前

    Ah ! Skull & Cross bones - Pirates - Lets dig here (mine field) for buried treasure !!! - HaHa !

  • Ultimate Gattai
    Ultimate Gattai 15 日 前

    The cats are cool, but I see so many issues with that. How do you keep the cats close to said places? What if they get wiped out by predators? What if the genes for bio-luminescence get bred out over the generations? I just want a glowing cat.

  • GoogleMinus
    GoogleMinus 15 日 前

    Probably one of the biggest problems is that people use the symbols and dilute the meaning, how many fake radioactive symbols have you seen?

  • lakelight
    lakelight 16 日 前

    Can you do a video on why everyone says "ex-PEER-iment" now instead of experiment?

  • Patrick
    Patrick 16 日 前

    While most likely highly controversial, I think the cat method is undoubtedly the best solution. Think about how long myths perpetuate, and with a symbol behind it creating causality of danger, it would seem apparent of danger.


    how does my profile symbol make you feel

  • MLBlue30
    MLBlue30 17 日 前

    I though X marked the spot when it comes to buried treasure? But really, why would I want to advertise where my buried treasure is in the first place? Im trying to hide it!

  • Augusta Verbian
    Augusta Verbian 17 日 前

    3:30 I love that background music. Feels like I watching a top secret file.

  • Aslo
    Aslo 18 日 前

    Civilization has reached a state where this doesn't matter anymore. People in 5000 years will know what the symbol means by just googling it (or via neural interface injection or whatever).

  • Kraio
    Kraio 19 日 前

    “And that yielded designs like this. *s p i k e f i e l d s*”

  • Richard Black
    Richard Black 20 日 前

    Take, a step, away, FROM YOUR MIC.

  • 3D Possible
    3D Possible 20 日 前

    How about let's not engineer unsolvable problems into the world to begin with?

  • Jr Smith The Henny God

    The voice changes throughout the video made me feel extremely uncomfortable, like wtf was that? I could’ve even watch the whole video

  • 80slv
    80slv 21 日 前

    biohazard symbol clearly looks like a gas mask

  • djlee02
    djlee02 22 日 前 +2

    So skulls / skeletons / bones which has been humanities for symbol for death for centuries might be lost in meaning, but people are supposed to know what a glowing cat means?

  • NJogren
    NJogren 22 日 前

    Where do I turn to If I got a serious suggestion which could help and not be lost in the nether of the web...?

  • vapid rabbit
    vapid rabbit 23 日 前

    i don't know, i think skulls are the most ominous... if i found an ancient site, the best thing to enstill fear and be a symbol of impending death would be human skulls at the entrance.

  • Gyan Anchan
    Gyan Anchan 23 日 前

    It's kinda dissapointing how little people noticed 99%invisible. But then again, I guess a designers' job is to stay 99pi.

    For those, who don't know what 99pi is, it is a podcast about how design affects things largely, but is still not seen directly and works subtley under the human mind

  • 花【Night】
    花【Night】 24 日 前

    I'm sorry but only a few pirates used the Jolie Roger it was first called the jollie rougue

  • Tollfee Gaming
    Tollfee Gaming 24 日 前

    like my whip?

  • fpsnk
    fpsnk 24 日 前

    bro glowing cats is pretty dope tbh

  • Eric Taylor
    Eric Taylor 24 日 前

    5:30 Also, anything that is foreboding or scary will attract explorers for that very reason. They would see it as something protective that is inside the site. And if it is something others wanted to protect, there would have to be a good reason to protect it.
    I doubt very much that they would ever think the obscures where there for their own protection. They would thing it was there to protect whatever was inside.
    We should also keep in mind, the people seeing this in 10000 years may not even be human.

  • Trent Rubenacker
    Trent Rubenacker 24 日 前

    Ok. Anything that looks built by people will attract people to investigate. Genetically engineer an extremely unpleasant bramble that requires radiation in the soil to survive. It will stick to the sites and go extinct in 10,000 years when they deradiate. Meanwhile, noone wants to take a walk through poison-thorn forest.

  • Eric Taylor
    Eric Taylor 24 日 前

    Is it even possible to have a warning symbol that will mean the same thing to everyone?

  • Laezar
    Laezar 25 日 前

    Well, I think the tombs in ancient egypt tells us a lot about what people would do => not care.
    I mean, aren't the warning of an impending curse kinda the same as a warning for radioactive materials? and yet I don't think curse warning were really that effective to prevent us from exploring tombs.
    I'd imagine the same would happen in 4000years if a civilization did stumble upon our nuclear wastes. They'd simply ignore our "curse" warning. Except there is actually a curse there unlike in a pharaoh's tomb.

  • DRSNova
    DRSNova 25 日 前

    I have to wonder - if there is some event that causes humans to lose complete knowledge of our current symbols and language, because you could certainly put warnings around such a site in all the major languages - would there even be a point in protecting our now stone-age descendants from radioactivity buried unreachably deep in the ground?

  • kang C
    kang C 25 日 前

    my opinion, either you know what it mean or you die.

  • LifeisGreat
    LifeisGreat 25 日 前

    Just use a smiley face with X's for eyes. People gonna shit's dangerous

    NATESOR 26 日 前

    comics with arrows indicating the direction you should read it are probably the best bet. The cultural engineering proposals are absurd and would likely fizzle out or evolve within a few decades, assuming they'd even carry any weight to begin with. If humans have "lost the ability to understand causality" then we're pretty much just wild animals again at that point and nothing is going to keep us from wandering into the site.

  • Senderles
    Senderles 26 日 前

    3:43 now watch me WIPP .... No? Okay.

  • lemonny3663
    lemonny3663 27 日 前

    Barbed wire?

  • hilal rious
    hilal rious 27 日 前

    I learned it through Half-Life

  • Sam Hodge
    Sam Hodge 27 日 前

    The issue of the comic needing to be read from left to right can be solved by putting the images in a tunnel where the observer will come across each image in order. This tunnel would be the only intended entrance to the disposal site and would be made intentionally obvious and start out easily traversed to encourage future explorers to start there. Then, after an extremely long and winding path that became harder and harder to traverse, a large, seemingly impenetrable door might serve as the final message to turn back.

  • n. p.
    n. p. 27 日 前

    At 1:20 I thought, "Mr.Yuck is gonna be one, right?"

  • Son Teori
    Son Teori 27 日 前

    I think we should let people die who thinks "Yeah boi a pirate treasure! Must do something with it." when saw a skull.

  • Krawna
    Krawna 28 日 前 +2

    Downvoted because of the change in narrators. The heavily based voice is incredibly off-putting

  • God
    God 28 日 前

    Or better yet, stop producing radioactive trash.

  • Jon
    Jon 28 日 前

    in a shellnut
    because edgy kids exist

  • Alan
    Alan 28 日 前

    use a swastika and advertise its location for white supremacist meetings. 2 birds one stone.

  • Shovlaxnet
    Shovlaxnet 28 日 前 +4

    Why does someone keep sucking off the mic every other minute?

  • Rona Fanfouna
    Rona Fanfouna 28 日 前

    what about the man slipping that will never die out

  • EyjannaSonur
    EyjannaSonur 29 日 前

    Amazing video, but I strongly disagree with the assumption that in the future the skull and bones will lose its meaning of danger, while for some reason retaining that of "pirates, treasure". If anything it's the latter which seems extremely arbitrary and postulates a previous knowledge of a very limited historical phenomenon which spanned for a couple of centuries at best. Vice versa, the mere association of a skeleton (i.e. skull and bones) with dead/death seems to me pretty self-explanatory and it will continue as long as we don't literally (d)evolve into boneless amoebae.

  • mxferro
    mxferro 29 日 前

    You know...the atomic priesthood would Actually make sense..maybe not "priesthood"...but a kind of knights templar to protect the WIPP site...like guardians.
    If the U.S. and other nations have assigned special units to stand guard and march in front of tombs of unknown soldiers....why not special unit to ALWAYS have a presences AT wipp location..or radiation squad protection unit.

  • mxferro
    mxferro 29 日 前

    Nuclear symbol could be graphic ball bursting apart toward a injured person. This stuff Can be simplified and effective.. It just need strict continuous use.

  • mxferro
    mxferro 29 日 前

    Bio symbol could be used in conjunction with a segmented graphic representation of a DNA strand being broken apart

  • mxferro
    mxferro 29 日 前

    The longer the symbol is in constant usage...then the stronger the meaning will last...any civilization..explorers or aliens? In the future that repeatedly encounters those symbols..in specific situations WILL clue in on what the symbol means. The excuse NOT to use skull and bones cause of pirates is idiotic...kids were not going to drink poison cause they thought oh. It's pirates...that's moronic..and plus a nuclear waste sight would be encountered by mature beings...skull and bones IS effective to indicate deadly surrounding or materials. Too much is being placed on skull and bones meaning pirates.
    Jolly Roger should be used SIDE BY SIDE with appropriate danger symbols...bio...nuclear..etc.

  • MilkToast
    MilkToast 29 日 前

    Why didn’t they use a Swastika for “danger” or something like that due to the time after WW2?

  • Leed Moore
    Leed Moore 29 日 前


  • Leed Moore
    Leed Moore 29 日 前

    I going to die ahhhh