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Phil E. Mason
Philip E. Mason

Other namesThunderf00t
Known for
Alma materUniversity of Birmingham
Scientific career
FieldsFood Science (2002 - 2012)
Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry (2013 - present)
InstitutionsCornell University (2002 - 2012)
Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic 2013 - present)
ThesisNovel Architectures in Polymer Chemistry (1997)
Doctoral advisorI.W. Parsons[1]
YouTube information
Years active2006–present
Subscribers1 million[2]
Total views312 million[2]
YouTube Silver Play Button 2.svg 100,000 subscribers
YouTube Gold Play Button 2.svg 1,000,000 subscribers

Last updated: 6 May 2022

Philip E. Mason is a British chemist and YouTuber with the online pseudonym Thunderf00t (also VoiceofThunder). He is best known for criticising topics such as religion and pseudoscience, as well as creationism. He works at the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the Czech Academy of Sciences.

Early life[edit]

Mason received a BSc (2:1) (1993) and PhD (1997) in chemistry from the University of Birmingham.[1] From 2003[3] until at least August 2010, Mason was affiliated with the University of Bristol.[4]


Mason worked at Cornell University's department of food science from 2002 until 2012, where he studied the molecular interactions between water and sugar molecules,[5] as well as molecular modeling with regard to proteins and guanidinium solutions. As of 2013, he was working at the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic as a member of a research group headed by Pavel Jungwirth.[1]

Alkali metals research[edit]

Mason, on his own and with some fellow technical workers, did original physical chemistry research into the nature of the alkali metals (sodium and potassium, for example) and their chemistry with oxygen and water.[6] It has been known since the metals could be obtained in pure forms that they are explosive when dropped into water. It has long been thought this was caused by the dissociation of water by the metal, releasing hydrogen and oxygen which recombined in an explosion. Mason developed experimental methods and results that indicate the first reaction of alkali metals and water was coulombic (that is, electrical charge forces) in nature which shatters and drives the metal in an extremely pure state into the water, causing both further coulombic and water dissociation. This result, developed in 2015, was completely new to chemistry.[6] His co-authored research was published in the journal Nature Chemistry.[7]

On 5 June 2020, his co-authored research on solvated electrons dissolved in ammonia was published in the science journal Science.[8]

Online activities[edit]

Mason's YouTube videos, where he writes as Thunderf00t, have often drawn attention.[9] A 2012 journal article stated that Thunderf00t's channel and P.Z. Myers' blog were "among the two most popular secularist hubs online."[10]

Mason has used his online persona to critically examine a range of topics, including proposals to build roads surfaced with glass solar panels.[9] He has also attracted media attention for his criticisms of Elizabeth Holmes, Anita Sarkeesian,[11][12] and Elon Musk.[13][14][15]

In 2015, Jenny Keller, who ran the YouTube channel "Laughing Witch", attempted to get Mason fired by sending letters to his employer. Keller stated that these efforts were intended to pressure Mason to change what she considered sexist and Islamophobic content on his channel. After promoting the campaign online, Keller eventually provoked a response from Mason, who posted a series of videos scrutinizing Keller and the Bowie, Maryland-based company she runs with her husband, Porcelain Tub Restoration. These videos led to many of Mason's fans posting negative reviews online for that company.[16] On several occasions, Mason has made guest appearances on the Drunken Peasants Podcast.[17]

In July 2020, Mason had several of his videos on YouTube debunking COVID-19 conspiracy theories falsely flagged and taken down.[18]


Through his YouTube account Thunderf00t, Mason produced a series of videos titled "Why do people laugh at creationists?", focusing primarily on Kent Hovind's arguments in public seminars. Sociologist Richard Cimino has described the tone of these videos as "that of the professional, well-educated, and articulate British academic expert exposing—in voiceover—the irrational behavior and attitudes of the believer."[19] Mason (originally known only as Thunderf00t) debated with VenomFangX, a YouTube blogger who supports creationism, in a series of public exchanges that lasted almost two years. The series also covered other creationists, such as Ray Comfort and intelligent design proponent Casey Luskin.[20]


  1. ^ a b c "Phil Mason". Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic. Archived from the original on 6 March 2019. Retrieved 10 March 2014.
  2. ^ a b "About Thunderf00t". YouTube.
  3. ^ Mason, P. E.; Neilson, G. W.; Dempsey, C. E.; Barnes, A. C.; Cruickshank, J. M. (8 April 2003). "The hydration structure of guanidinium and thiocyanate ions: Implications for protein stability in aqueous solution". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 100 (8): 4557–4561. Bibcode:2003PNAS..100.4557M. doi:10.1073/pnas.0735920100. PMC 404697. PMID 12684536.
  4. ^ "News". University of Bristol. August 2010. Archived from the original on 24 March 2014. Retrieved 22 March 2014.
  5. ^ "Experimental molecular dynamics studies of water structuring by sugars". Archived from the original on 7 September 2017. Retrieved 26 October 2013.
  6. ^ a b Bell, Philip (26 January 2015). "Sodium's explosive secrets revealed - The spectacular reaction of alkali metals with water was poorly understood despite being a staple of chemistry classes". Nature Chemistry. 7: 250–254. Retrieved 30 October 2019.
  7. ^ Mason, Philip E.; Uhlig, Frank; Vaněk, Václav; Buttersack, Tillmann; Bauerecker, Sigurd; Jungwirth, Pavel (26 January 2015). "Coulomb explosion during the early stages of the reaction of alkali metals with water". Nature Chemistry. 7 (3): 250–254. Bibcode:2015NatCh...7..250M. doi:10.1038/nchem.2161. ISSN 1755-4330. PMID 25698335.
  8. ^ Buttersack, Tillman; Mason, Phillip E.; McMullen, Ryan S.; Schewe, H. Christian; Martinek, Tomas; Jungwirth, Pavel (5 June 2020). "Photoelectron spectra of alkali metal–ammonia microjets: From blue electrolyte to bronze metal". Science. 368 (6495): 1086–1091. doi:10.1126/science.aaz7607. hdl:2433/254491. PMID 32499436. S2CID 219312089. Retrieved 7 June 2020.
  9. ^ a b Farrelly, Elizabeth (9 June 2014). "Highways of future, where solar panels change our world". Sydney Morning Herald. ProQuest 1536863134.
  10. ^ Smith, Christopher; Cimino, Richard (21 February 2012). "Atheisms Unbound: The Role of the New Media in the Formation of a Secularist Identity". Secularism and Nonreligion. 1: 17. doi:10.5334/snr.ab. ISSN 2053-6712.
  11. ^ "Critic Anita Sarkeesian receives online death threats after latest Feminist Frequency video on games". VentureBeat. 27 August 2014. Retrieved 7 September 2018.
  12. ^ "Tropes vs Anita Sarkeesian: on passing off anti-feminist nonsense as critique". New Statesman. 27 August 2014. Retrieved 7 September 2018.
  13. ^ Brown, Mike (27 April 2017). "How Realistic Is This Hyperloop One Future Map of the U.S.?". Inverse. Retrieved 7 September 2018.
  14. ^ Roberts, Michael (20 November 2017). "The One Thing Hyperloop Must Do to Avoid Becoming a Disaster". Westword. Retrieved 7 September 2018.
  15. ^ Pring-Mill, David (3 August 2017). "Hyperloop Projects May Be Uniquely Vulnerable to Terrorism". The National Interest. Retrieved 7 September 2018.
  16. ^ "Prince George's Co. business battles". WUSA. 30 October 2015. Archived from the original on 8 September 2018. Retrieved 7 September 2018.
  17. ^ Drunken Peasants (6 June 2014), Drunken Peasants Podcast Special Guest: ThunderF00t - ThunderF00t Meets G-Man - Much More! DPP #29, retrieved 6 July 2019
  18. ^ Greenspan, Rachel E.; Tenbarge, Kat (26 September 2020). "YouTubers' channels and videos are being mistakenly deleted for debunking COVID-19 conspiracy theories". Insider. Retrieved 11 February 2021 – via Microsoft News.
  19. ^ Cimino, Richard (2014). Atheist Awakening: Secular Activism and Community in America. Oxford University Press. p. 99. ISBN 9780199986323.
  20. ^ Farley, Tim (November–December 2009). "Skepticism via YouTube". Skeptical Inquirer. Retrieved 2 April 2014.

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