G-Force, Jerk, and Passing Out In A Centrifuge

G-Force, Jerk, and Passing Out In A Centrifuge

Thanks to the Starrship team for arranging this! I’m also over on their channel, flying with the Blades: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iWY3-1gOrxk • At the Royal Air Force training centrifuge in Farnbrough, pilots learn how to avoid G-LOC: g-induced loss of consciousness. Let’s talk about g-force, about jerk, and about how to keep circulation flowing to your brain.


* Isn’t 3.6g a really low g-tolerance? *
Yep. Turns out I would not qualify to be a fighter pilot. The average range for g-tolerance is 4-6; no-one was expecting me to pass out. The centrifuge team do not deliberately try to G-LOC people! To be fair, though, I’d done a few earlier runs with only minor effects.

* What g was the RAF person at the start pulling? *
That’s Marcus, from the Starrship team, and he was successfully pulling 6.5g with the help of g-trousers: they plug into a compressed air source in the plane (and in the centrifuge) and act as a lower-body tourniquet to keep the blood up top. They are very effective.

* Why did you shake and shudder when regaining consciousness? *
Those are called “myoclonic convulsions”, which is a fancy medical term for “muscle jerks”, and they’re a common side effect of recovering from G-LOC.

* What did it feel like? *
I’ll answer this in more detail in a video over on the Matt and Tom channel soon, but in short: I don’t remember it. I was doing the breathing maneuver, then everything was wobbly, then we were stopped!

* Is this a sponsored video? *
No: the RAF and Starrship had no editorial control over this, and no money changed hands. Obviously, though, they gave me a spin in the centrifuge, and I’m collaborating with them over on their channel too!

The RAF Centre of Aviation Medicine, the Starrship team, and the folks at Qinetiq.

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I’m at http://tomscott.com
on Twitter at http://twitter.com/tomscott
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and on Snapchat and Instagram as tomscottgo

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99 Responses

  1. Tom Scott says:

    If you have questions (what did it feel like? why did you convulse? isn’t 3.6g a really low tolerance?) pull down the description, I’ve answered a few there! And if you see someone ask a question that’s in the description, please point them there.

  2. Daan Klein says:

    That thumbnail tho😂

  3. Jeremy Zorek says:

    That thumbnail might be the best thing ever.

  4. mistaecco says:

    Quite a thumbnail there, Tom

  5. Buggian Being says:

    Tom Scott losing consciousness is just. wow.

    it scared me

  6. Per Mortensen says:

    Seeing people lose consciousness like this is so eerie.

    • Event Hʘriךּon says:

      I was all interested until his face dropped and i was like, oh no, this is real, get a doctor. Quite the emotional jerk ;D (hehe pun)

    • Jake Kennedy says:

      He didn’t need a doctor

    • Event Hʘriךּon says:

      i know, i know, but that was my gut reaction to that sudden and unbounded drop of muscle tension. Im so glad he was in a completely safe and controlled environment.

  7. Keek says:

    Waiting for the apology for using “this image” from “that video” as a thumbnail. 😀

  8. yoyofargo says:

    You know those clickbait thumbnails that abuse the photoshop smudge tool?

    Yeah instead of photoshop you used the physics smudge tool. ¯_(ツ)_/¯

  9. Mister Apple says:

    This is a little complicated, but it’s not brain surgery.

  10. o O 0 says:

    That thumbmail tho lmao

  11. Anna Semionova says:

    As someone suffering from dysautonomia, where my ANS has a hard time fighting gravity when I’m standing up causing me to pass out, I feel like a lot of the tips and tricks that they use for training pilots would be really useful for patients like me. I wonder where I can get more information.

    • Adam Ebsworth says:

      Matthew Shaw took 3 years to convince them something was wrong lowland yea theres loads you can do to Try prevent it

    • Anna Semionova says:

      DarkIzo yea basically. Not all the time, but it does make stuff awkward. Sometimes I get stranded on the kitchen floor trying to get a glass of water and my ANS decides to quit on me, and I’ve passed out randomly in shop aisles and had ambulances called on me.

    • Alexbacon says:

      Gamesaucer there shouldn’t be side effects it’s just changing breathing patterns and tensing your legs to push blood towards your head

    • Matthew Familia says:

      Anna Semionova wow, the randomness makes it even worse, my grandmother has a similar issue and it’s heart related have you been through stress tests or anything like that to see if there is a heart to nervous system connection, like an overload or something to that effect??

    • Matthew Familia says:

      Anna Semionova it’s conditions like that that make you truly appreciate the small things in life…maybe a lung issue causing a drop in oxygen saturation??

  12. Jay Benton says:

    You should use that thumbnail as your driving license picture. That way, when you’re pulled over and pissed out of your head, you’ll look the same and they’ll let you go!

  13. rosemary says:

    Tom Scott, the king of ridiculously tragic and traumatising thumbnails.

  14. DogBeef says:

    i was worried theyd turn the centrifuge on while youre walking besides it

  15. Peathbydeas says:

    we have found the new “this image from that video”

    • Nadius89 says:

      Now I need a help package!!!

    • RoScFan says:

      meaning? what video? seriously! what are you talking about?

    • hellterminator says:

      He’s talking about *that* image from *that* video.

    • Yndostrui says:

      RoScFan: Look at Tom’s other channel “Matt and Tom”. It’s a reference to two of the videos on there.
      Particularly, *that* video 😛

    • coastersplus says:

      Searching “that image from that video” on YouTube brings up a playlist with the video with “that image” as the thumbnail, the “apology” video, two videos about phone calls given the joke put in the apology video, and a one-hour loop of “that video”.

  16. Youbie says:

    I swear we just watched him die

  17. John says:

    Today I learned that a brit’s response after passing out is “blimey”

    • Blissfull says:

      As a non Brit, it was my understanding that Blimey is a proper answer to a multitude of situations, all sharing a certain amount of perplexity or discontent.

    • Yikak4 says:

      It expresses amazement

    • TheXV22 says:

      This particularly subspecies that Tom belongs to says that, yes, but there are different ones within the same species that react in a different way after drooling unconsciousness.

    • SarahKB7 says:

      Its an English expression which was originally ‘God blind me’, a phrase said to God that is a plea to avoid and prevent temptation, such as repeating something scary. It also later became an expression of surprise to unexpected events that were unusual, unplanned, sometimes scary and tempting.

      Over time, ‘God blind me’ became slurred and contracted in the Cockney speaking areas of London and became the phrase “Gor blimey”, or “Cor blimey’, which then spread to the rest of England.

      The ‘God Blind Me’ origins are Biblical, from when God destroyed the city of Sodom. Lot and his wife were fleeing from Sodom, and were warned by Angels not to look back at the city as they fled. Lot obeyed and escaped, but his wife gave in to temptation and looked back over her shoulder and was turned to a pillar of salt.

      ‘God blind me’, became a common phrase in England, and through its many accents, dialects and contractions over time, and was spread throught England and the wider English speaking Commonwealth countries such as Australia and New Zealand because of British colonialism.

  18. ASMR In The Car says:

    What’s the 100th derivative for velocity? We already have snap crackle and pop.

  19. Halomcee says:

    Now I want one of those centrifuges at home.

  20. Aaron Booth says:

    “I lost everything there” – serious question – does that mean bladder control in addition to conciousness?

    • A Mouse says:

      Stelios Skoufos No, you dont. Sleep and blood loss induced unconsciousness are very different things. If you were truly unconscious during sleep you wouldnt dream. Stay off the comments if you dont know what you are talking about.

    • A Mouse says:

      Aaron Booth Dont apologize to nitpickers, blood loss induced consciousness is not the same as sleep it feels totally different like you are being overpowered and cant physically stay conscious. If you were unconscious during sleep you couldnt dream. During sleep your higher functions shut down. I dont think bladder would get affected but pooping your pants during blood induced unconsciousness is a very possible outcome.

    • Aurora Young says:


    • Matthew Bauerle says:

      Stelios Skoufos you mean there ya don’t go.

    • Der Jens says:

      Aurora Young There aren’t even any videos on your channel…

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