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What Is Sea Level, Anyway?

20859 ratings | 661593 views
In Calipatria, California, the town is below sea level -- but their flag pole isn't. But what does "sea level" mean? Is it just theory, or is there more behind it? I'm at http://tomscott.com on Twitter at http://twitter.com/tomscott on Facebook at http://facebook.com/tomscott and on Snapchat and Instagram as tomscottgo
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Text Comments (749)
smallsoldiersy (17 days ago)
This concept of sea level will never enter my brain
Joe R. (23 days ago)
Sea level is Y=62
Wesley Cherry (26 days ago)
Thomas, your videos are bloody amazing.
Dominik Troxell (29 days ago)
0:57 Omg I am ded!!!!😂😂😂 The ROAST! You know its funny when its true
John Christoph (1 month ago)
Hey Tom, good video but technical correction: because mountains are generally composed of felsic rocks that are less dense than the mafic rocks that compose the oceanic crust and mantle, they actually exert *less* gravitational pull on stuff on Earth's surface. If you measure surface gravitational acceleration at sea level versus on a mountaintop, the acceleration at the mountain will not only be lower, but it will be lower by a greater magnitude than can be accounted for by the simple increase in distance from Earth's center of mass. What's more, if you measure the vector direction of that gravitational acceleration as you traverse from the mountaintop to sea level, that direction won't point straight down but will instead be a small angle off, pointing away from the mountain. It's counterintuitive, but you can measure it with a gravimeter. Other than that quibble, though: well done!
Matthew Doel (2 months ago)
2:22 Ohio State it's my University
A Globe Earther (3 months ago)
So my channel name is technically incorrect?
Stephen Benner (3 months ago)
It is the point at which water boils at 212°F. It would be a little bit funnier if I said that’s it’s the point water boils at 100°C, for obvious reasons.
Asher Loat (3 months ago)
Anyone else been to the Dead Sea?
Jobayer Rifad (4 months ago)
this guy is mark Zuckerberg but with human v.0.2
Vulpez Vulpez (4 months ago)
The last few seconds are a testament to how powerful and important a good editor is. The decision to use that clip of the flag at that time gives a whole lot of messages at once that wouldn't be there otherwise. All that without even changing the script.
Dan Shetler (6 months ago)
So funny/sad how someone can just ramble away and never produce data or facts to back up their claims.
Mirlene Henry (6 months ago)
I still don't understand
Ariffin Baharum (6 months ago)
I wonder how many red t-shirts Tom has.
Kate Johannsen (7 months ago)
Nice ending. The way you tie everything together is a gift. Almost all great stories have that gift.
Carolyn Gutman-Dey (8 months ago)
Earth is flat or I will eat my hat :-) RESEARCH FLAT EARTH ---- unless you want to believe in a "symbolic" oblate spheroid based on geodesic data which is based on gravitational THEORY! The globe earth is spherical according to NASA, but NOT spherical according to geodesic surveying???? The globe is a lie and it ONLY EXISTS IN THE HUMAN MIND! And that is where this terrible, horrible deception will be killed off..... RESEARCH FLAT EARTH and save your sanity.
DANG JOS (8 months ago)
+Tom Scott It sounds like you said something backwards. If there's more gravity in an area, then there should be less water above that area to equal out the pressure. You mentioned that there would be less
Purple Fire 28 (9 months ago)
Before this video I got the most amazing ad that painted IT work as superhuman. It was great. It's called "What's it mean to work in IT?" by Sophos.
nomadben (10 months ago)
Love your videos Tom. Thanks for the great work.
Gplor (11 months ago)
259 dislikes from flat earthers
Rob Johnson (1 year ago)
Isn't death valley lower @ 85m below sea level?
0MindSwept0 (1 year ago)
Sea level is the level of the sea is at, dummy
Dracopol (1 year ago)
There is also "slosh" where the Earth's spin means that water sloshes from the east edge of oceans over to the west edge, so there is higher sea level in the west.
Brad Condon (1 year ago)
So if mountains have strong enough gravity to attract the oceans, why does every little bit of water flow off and away from them? If their gravity can pull the massive amount of water contained in oceans, how come small little brooks, rain etc. flow doen and away from them? Can you show me an experiment which proved that mountains can attract or pull any water, oceans or otherwise, towards them?
Brad Condon (1 year ago)
Dracopol because its not settled science, if you use the scientific method- repeatable, observable, verifiable experiments. Siesmic data can only show a few miles down at best. To say whats hundreds and thousands of miles under the surface is guesswork. If every gram of matter attracts every other gram of matter, there should be many experiments which would clearly show this, not just one old debunked one (cavendish). If you use critical thinking skills, and dont just repeat what you've been told like a proud parrot, you'll realize how stupid it sounds when you claim that mountains can pull entire oceans towards them, but every drop of rain that falls on them runs immediatly down and away from them.
Dracopol (1 year ago)
Brad Condon The Cavendish experiment really has measured how much gravitational pull each gram exerts on every other gram of matter. We know accurately the gravitational constant and the mass of the round Earth. We have also measured seismic vibrations sent down into the Earth to know the consistency and materials in each layer. I don't see what you're trying to get at, doubting settled science.
Brad Condon (1 year ago)
Dracopol How do you know whats inside the earth? The farthest anyone has ever gone down into the earth is 8 miles.... To say its rock and magma all tje way to the core is a guess, there is no proof. Just like there is no proof that every gram of matter pulls on every other gram of matter. Show me an experiment which demonstrates this...
Brad Condon (1 year ago)
Dracopol Thats ridiculous.If mountains can pull oceans, they should be able to pull puddles. Can you show me an experiment that proves mountains pulling water? Can you show me any experiment that shows any mass pulling another mass?
Dracopol (1 year ago)
He didn't say the two effects were comparable. Every single gram of matter attracts and pulls on every other gram of matter. The predominant amount of matter is straight down: rock and magma all the way down to the core of the Earth and beyond, and to each side: the sphere of the Earth. So water flows down, all things fall down, but not perfectly vertically. Mountains can exert some small sideways attraction of water. Seacoasts with mountains will have a slightly higher sea-level than seacoasts that don't.
Jake Taylor (1 year ago)
I see Trevor from gta 5s house
fhhsvnggbh (1 year ago)
So what's got me wondering is, does the rest of the world use this level as sea level or is sea level national
Melvin Meyers (1 year ago)
Earth is flat
Hagger Wood Working (1 year ago)
Sea level is 63, duh
Matheus Bitencourt (1 year ago)
Earth is flat
Know Whey (1 year ago)
C level represents my grade 10 report card.
JonatasAdoM (1 year ago)
You can't say the sea level is symbolic! Doesn't it affects the temperature and time required to boil water?
Dracopol (1 year ago)
In lower altitudes water will boil at a slightly higher temperature, so it will take less time to boil things.
JonatasAdoM (1 year ago)
Earth is a round potato, done.
Michael Higgins (1 year ago)
Another really great and informative video and also highly entertaining! Well done !
John McElroy (1 year ago)
Derek (Veritasium) did a video on whether the Salton Sea should exist or not. Check it out!
Dylan Millette (1 year ago)
My grade
Eliphas Leary (1 year ago)
Really? The difference between earth's "hight" and "width" is 42 Km? 42? That's the answer?
Spoftie (1 year ago)
The earth is flat...
Ott (1 year ago)
Nin9ty nice bait
MrEd (1 year ago)
I'm going to be an ass and point out that sea level rise is not inevitable. The rise has paused for years now and it starting to drop as the earth enters the cooling phase expected with Grand Solar Minimum (mostly due to cosmic ray effect on clouds, but soon to be on volcanos as cosmic rays heat up silica rich magma)
Aidan Cannatelli (1 year ago)
“It’s vaguely a sphere, don’t get too excited flat-earthers”
aquatic punga (1 year ago)
there was this story I heard from my former physics teacher that two cities in two different countries (Switzerland and Germany) decided to build a bridge over the river that seperates them. They both started from their end and when they met in the middle, the one bridge was (not sure anymore exactly how much) around 0.5-1 meter taller because they both used a different "sealevel". (Afterwards they built the bridge again, but with the same data)
Kinda irreverent but there is a wonderful poem by Sophia Stid named "Salton Sea" and it's quite lovely
Silver Game Dog (1 year ago)
Love your videos but mostly I’m reminded how dumb I am...
Random sfx (1 year ago)
I'm scared. My battery is on 55% 😂
M (1 year ago)
Call they flat earthers out yeah boy haha
Xoron (1 year ago)
Different references of sea level can turn into problems: Germany references the North Sea, Switzerland references the Mediterranean. When building a bridge over the Rhine across the border, they miscalcualted the discrepancy and ended up with misfitted bridge heads.
Craig Andrews (1 year ago)
Maybe it is from the level you can see.
Eli Malinsky (1 year ago)
Here in Israel we have the lowest point on land, 410m below sea level, which is actually in a lake, so not exactly land, but also not exactly sea, even though it is called the Dead Sea.
Pencil BFB (1 year ago)
Tom Scott, what is this thing, anyway? "Shopee S Shopping INSTALL Enjoy fast, safe, and hassle-free shopping with Shopee! Download the app now.
"The Earth is not a sphere" Yes I was right it's flat "Don't get to excited flat earthers" Tom why do you have to this to me
Lynda O (1 year ago)
You're so good, Tom. Thanks.
ConnorConnor (1 year ago)
1M subs as of now!
ConnorConnor (1 year ago)
1,004,886, to be exact.
gaia35 (1 year ago)
OH!! what an end to that video!! XD damn!
Everything Cool (1 year ago)
wow a fake sea is the beach also fake
el sobaka (1 year ago)
"What... *is*... sea level?" That would've been a good time for the Vsauce music to kick in.
KnuxMaster 368 (1 year ago)
The only problem is... that isn't the lowest elevation in Western Hemisphere. That goes to Death Valley. Where you are is the lowest elevation in the Western Hemisphere that is habitable.
spiders (1 year ago)
ew that was kinda gross pandering you did there at the end :/
Frostburn 12345 (1 year ago)
As a dutch guy I have been living below sea level for 24 years. Not one flooding since my birth.
ccho617 (1 year ago)
Congrats on a million subscribers! Thanks for making great videos for everyone to enjoy!
Max Chill (1 year ago)
Kinda surprised you never mentioned a barometer.
Ricardo Schmidt (1 year ago)
OMG 1m subs
Wouter Veeneman (1 year ago)
Congrats on 1 million subscribers
Ninja_Goose (1 year ago)
Congratulations on 1 million subscribers Tom!
abit wishy-washy (1 year ago)
1 millionth.
orrd (1 year ago)
It's more than "symbolic". A neat way to think about it is that if you were to dig a canal from the Pacific ocean to that city, it would flood the city about 55 meters deep... that's the sea level.
jayhrod26 (1 year ago)
You should make a things you might not know for when you get 1 mil subs
YGK (1 year ago)
Ehm basicly the whole netherlands... ow nevermind the netherlands is *below* sea level
Landwelder (1 year ago)
<3 Flat Earth. One of the most exciting theories I have come across.
Sable (1 year ago)
yay Tom Scott is yay good youtuber
came to israel to the lowest point in the world
lolatomroflsinnlos (1 year ago)
Can you define the sea level as some distance from the center of the earth?
Roudi Sulaiman (1 year ago)
The Dead Sea is 430.5 meters below sea level. Very thick air down there.
mmmcounts (1 year ago)
Zakir Naik calls it a Geosphere, you think he's right about that?
dot nothing (1 year ago)
I love the classic HTML of that NASA site.
anansi 501 (1 year ago)
like what you said at the end there
DaRandomLOL (1 year ago)
I just started learning about sea level in Earth Science
Lyle Read-Challen (1 year ago)
One extra factor Tom didn't mention is the rotation of the Earth. If you imagine a tub filled to the brim with water, and pull it sharply, the water will slosh over the opposite side. This is because the inertia of the water tries to keep it from being accelerated.So, even when you correct for all the effects in the video, the Western shore of the Atlantic is higher than the Eastern (but only by a tiny amount).
pkunkbwok (1 year ago)
Y=63 <3
Katie Kat (1 year ago)
I am waiting patiently for sea levels to rise so that my house here in Bradenton, Florida will be beach front property. Is that too much to ask in a lifetime?
ProCactus (1 year ago)
that pole is not 55 meters high
Scootaloo (1 year ago)
It would be just a bit higher actually, since the ground is 55 meters below sea level while the American flag is just a bit higher than that. Hence why it would stay dry.
siimbs (1 year ago)
so that means mount everest is not 8 848m tall, it's always 8 848 +/- 80m tall..O_o
vibhupande (1 year ago)
all you had to do was explain how pressure levels are measured and the standard sea level, but no.. you explain geometry of all earth and complicate it
Stapler (1 year ago)
damn it Tom, stop messing up my paradigm
Ben G (1 year ago)
Great video! Thanks Tom.
Param Aggarwal (1 year ago)
Can't wait for 1 million subs!
Dalton Weathersby (1 year ago)
Hence why Mauna Kea is taller than Everest, but not higher
Geneticus0 (1 year ago)
I realize I am 90 degrees off, but I thought I'd mention that the red bar down the side of the thumbnail made me think I had watched this video before.
IntarwebUser (1 year ago)
I just assumed it's in comparison to the nearest ocean.
Mars Silvergold (1 year ago)
"Sea level? The place where I am champion" - Cain Velazquez
DanatronOne (1 year ago)
Tom Scott is always fantastic at taking everyday things that I thought we collectively didn't have a problem with, and making them complicated.
swingstylez (1 year ago)
I had no idea it was so complex to determine sea level!
Pabst Blue Ribbon (1 year ago)
Why don't we just define sea level as anywhere that lets water boil at 212°F
Carl McKay (1 year ago)
Are you related to Edd China?
Jay Rod (1 year ago)
The fact that there's still people who believe the earth is round is ludicrous.
TickTick BOOM (1 year ago)
Please do a video on Esperanto
Raymond K Petry (1 year ago)
...sea level (freely drained ocean level) is essential for measuring weights—'a pound is a pound the world around'...at sea level... (but where is that with respect to tides)
Mike Page (1 year ago)
At -86m, Badwater is lower but not a city.
fireyf (1 year ago)
Look at the flat earth nuts coming out of the woodwork because Tom mentioned them. Can we please stick them all in a rocket to space so they can see the earth is round... and then shoot them all out an air lock?
Dominus Satanas (1 year ago)
I was just thinking about this the other day, weird.
Gary F (1 year ago)
Wow. Thank you for this. A video about sea levels that didn't try to push global warming.
DukeLaCrosse20 (1 year ago)
Depends on if you're kneeling when looking at the flag or not.  Maybe by a meter.

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