Science can be pretty terrifying, don’t you think?
And perhaps it’s a good thing that we aren’t aware of all the dangerous things that are out there lurking all around us…
But we’re about to get our minds blown.
Folks on AskReddit offered up scary science facts that most people don’t know about.
Let’s see what they had to say.
1. Uh oh.
“Humans rely on evaporating sweat to stay cool.
If humidity gets too high, relatively low heat can k**l humans. The equivalent of 95°F/35°C at 100% relative humidity can k**l even healthy humans. This is called a Wet Bulb Event.
By 2050, scientists predict multiple Wet Bulb Events in the North China Plain.
Approximately 400 Million people live in the North China Plain.”
2. Let’s hope not.
“Smallpox is really easy to bring back and it’ll k**l 1/5 of the planet when it happens. Takes some genocidal anger, knowledge tens of thousands have, and about $100K. Here’s all the ways it could happen:
1) US or Russian stocks leaked or used as bioweapon (we keep some intentionally, it’s very secure. This is unlikely IMHO).
2) Accidentally bumped into at an old lab, leaked during cleaning or something. Forgotten stocks still occasionally found. Leak spreading very unlikely IMHO.
3) Intentional release via re-creation. Someone resynthesizes it from scratch via public sequence according to this paper with about $100K in materials. Methods + difficulty identical to what is published here. It’s totally possible, almost simple to do:
Smallpox powder dropped in envelopes mailed around the world by a disgruntled underpaid PhD student (see Aurora Colorado shooter). Outbreak is out of hand before it’s noticed, billions d**.”
3. Never heard of this one.
“The clathrate gas hypothesis scares me. Basically methane trapped within ice, primarily under permafrost and on the ocean bottom.
It’s kinda like the super-volcano of climate change, not likely but very bad if it happens. Methane is way worse than CO2 and more important it is faster acting, which could cause a runaway affect.
But it’s not likely for a number of reasons, including the stuff in the ocean is buried.”
4. Big problems.
“The government protocol for disposing of nuclear waste is to pack it with kitty litter in barrels and bury it.
If the wrong brand of litter is used it can cause massive environmental problems.
This mistake has been made before.”
5. New Madrid Fault.
“I have an interesting one about the New Madrid fault. In 1812, it faulted causing the Mississippi to flow north for a short time.
When there’s an earthquake in that area that is substantial it shakes the river plain. The river plain is more like jello than solid land. This causes it to come loose resulting in “sand blows”.
If you’re ever in that area you can still see areas of sand that have been pushed up for these. There’s also Indian legends of this fault being active so it’s odd it’s been dormant for so long.”
6. Who’s in control here?
“The corpus callosum, a fibre matrix that connects the left and right hemisphere, is responsible for enabling fluid communication between language ability and spatial ability.
However once severed, either hemisphere essentially become independent of each other, leading to a sense of dual consciousness where the right brain controls the left side of the body and vice versa.
The scary element is not simply that you’re now controlled by 2 independent spheres, but that consciousness is a physical, tangible and divisible part of you.”
7. It’s migrating.
“The Yellowstone caldera has migrated over millions of years due to tectonic plates moving. This has left a giant scar across all of southern Idaho that can be seen from space.
You can see it for yourself on Google earth. It shows you just how big the caldera is and a small idea of how bad an eruption would be.”
8. Keep an eye on it.
“There is a glacier in Greenland that has been melting in an unexpected way, giving it the power to flood manhattan, the Netherlands, LA, Vancouver and other coast cities within months of breaking off.
Climate models suggest up to 10 meters of sea level rise with this sucker.”
9. What a bummer.
The world’s climate is driven by the Meridional Overturning Circulation, what you might’ve heard of as the “Global Conveyor Belt”. Essentially, this is the formation of cold and salty deep water masses near the poles (North Atlantic, Antarctica) that sinks to the bottom of the oceans, that then upwells in regions like the Indian Ocean and the subtropical Pacific.
No deep water formation, no upwelling. No deep water formation, no movement of heat on a large scale (theoretically) in the oceans. The heat capacity of the oceans is orders of magnitude greater than that of the atmosphere– if that heat isn’t moving around, the world’s climate rapidly changes.
Thanks to the melting of the Greenland Ice Sheet, there’s going to be a lot fresher water in the North Atlantic.
No salty water, no deep water formation. No deep water formation, no conveyor belt. No conveyor belt, no Gulf Stream, or anything else driven by geostrophic motion.
10. Soil problems.
“Soil science-adjacent researcher here.
We are degrading, polluting, and losing our topsoil at such a rate that we may not be able to produce enough food to feed everyone within 50-60 years, let alone what impacts climate change may bring to bear on our food supply.
And the US government’s crop insurance programs and incentives all reinforce the bad practices, while discouraging regenerative practices. These bad policies are extremely hard to change because of lobbying from the major agribusiness companies, who make money off of these short-sighted policies.
Our food supply is further threatened by our agricultural over-dependence on aquifer water, which is not being replenished, making it an unsustainable source of water. If the aquifers are over-drawn, depleted, or polluted, we hit a hard wall of water scarcity, and we will have no back-ups to address the problem with.
The drawdown of the aquifers also causes land subsidence, which causes costly infrastructure and building damage.
The general public does not realize the impending crisis that will be caused by the confluence of these factors.”
11. Solar danger!
“There’s a solar event known as a CME, or a Coronal Mass Ejection, it occurs very frequently on a cosmic timescale, every few decades to centuries there’s a decent size one. Why are they scary? A CME is a massive burst of radiation, easily able to fully envelope the earth in its path, and it’s the equivalent of a non-stop EMP barrage. The last time a big one hit earth, was when we had telegraph lines for communications and they spontaneously caught fire.
In today’s world, with everything running on electricity, when the next big one hits we’ll have at most a few days warning, and it’d be a literal apocalypse movie scenario, with planes going down due to their whole electrical system frying, nobody’s vehicle starting, untold billions in fire damage would wreak havoc everywhere, and the machines we depend on to help would be similarly fried.
Some stuff would be unaffected, being parked in deep, concrete roofed parking garages and the like, but our entire infrastructure would be useless for years, it’d literally send us into a mini dark age while people tried to get things working again, recovery would take decades to centuries.”
12. The fog.
“Farmers spraying crops with anhydrous ammonia.
There are tanks of it on every highway.
If one ruptured it would be a toxic fog that would k**l you very painfully.”
13. Pretty scary.
“Antibiotics has been abused and misused for so long, that various bacteria strains have started to get resistance to them. What used to be a treatable infection, might soon become d**dly because we are unable to treat it with the antibiotics we have today.
There is research to try and find other ways to treat antibiotic resistant bacteria, but until then, please use prescribed antibiotics until they are finished (not until you feel better), if unsued do not flush them down the toilet or put them in the bin (give it to a pharmacy so they can discard them correctly), and use antibiotics when necessary (some countries give them willy-nilly while others are more conservative).”
14. What is it?
“There is a gravitational anomaly in space called the great attractor which is pulling everything within the Virgo and Hydra-Centaurus superclusters towards it. It lies 150-250 million light years from the milky way, which itself is being pulled towards it too.
The scary part is that relative to us, this anomaly lies within the same plane as our own galaxy making it very difficult to observe. Essentially, we have almost no concrete idea of what it is.”
“If your dog swims in a lake after receiving a spot on flea treatment – it absolutely decimates the invertebrate population.
A large dog swimming in 8 Olympic swimming pools worth of water soon after treatment will leech enough neurotoxin to k**l 50% of the lake’s invertebrate population within 48 hours.
There’s some awareness of this, but it’s not being taken seriously enough!”
“Scientific literature conclusion on Alzheimer’s disease and other neurodegenerative diseases in general is that the diseases start decades before the first obvious symptoms and that we need to treat them at this stage. When you exhibit obvious symptoms, it’s too late, your brain is already mush.
If you get diagnosed with Alzheimer’s at 65, you had the disease since your early 40’s at least. And you experienced very mild symptoms but didn’t notice it. And your brain fought like hell to compensate the deficit. When you get diagnosed, your brain is already very severely damaged and will never recover from the deficit.”
17. Into the void.
“The Boötes void, sometimes called the Great Void, is a huge, spherical region of space that contains very few galaxies.
It’s approximately 700 million light years from Earth and located near the constellation Boötes, which is how it got its name. The super void measures 250 million light-years in diameter, representing approximately 0.27% of the diameter of the observable universe, which itself is a daunting 93 billion light-years across. Its volume is estimated at 236,000 Mcp3 , making it the largest known void in the Universe.
At first, astronomers were only able to find eight galaxies across the expanse, but further observations revealed a total of 60 galaxies. Now, while that might still seem like a lot, it would be like stumbling upon ONLY 60 objects across a region larger than the continental United States (and that’s just in two dimensions).
According to astronomer Greg Aldering, the scale of the void is such that, “If the Milky Way had been in the center of the Boötes void, we wouldn’t have known there were other galaxies until the 1960s.” Looking at the volume of the Boötes void, it should contain about 10,000 galaxies, when considering that the average distance between galaxies elsewhere in the universe is a few million light-years.
But the question is….why and how this void came to be. There hasn’t been enough time since the universe began for mere gravitational forces to clear out a space of that size. There’s a theory which suggests that super voids are caused by the intermingling of smaller mini voids, like soap bubbles coming together.
But a more…maybe creepier…explanation is that the Boötes void could be the result of an expanding Kardashev III scale civilization. As the colonization bubble expands outward from its home system, the civilization dims each star (and subsequently each galaxy) it encounters by blanketing it in a Dyson shell. This might also explain why the void has such a nice, spherical shape.
Oh and we’re seeing a snapshot of The Void 700million years ago. A lot could have happened in 700 million years that we just cannot see/know due to the inherent speed of light.”
18. The Big C.
“Cancer geneticist here. Most cases of cancer that are sequenced generally just denote the prognosis or how long a patient has to live, rather than treatment options.
People always say “let’s cure cancer” however this simplifies cancer as though it is only one disease. It’s far more complicated than that. I studied at one of the largest cancer hospitals in the world where the motto is to make cancer history, but the only obtainable goal is to make it chronic.
We study and research as much as possible but every cancer requires different research, and unfortunately the powers that be often prohibit funding and proficient research. It’s work I am passionate about, but also a broken system that is infuriating to work in.”
“Anthrax can sporulate in dirt and stay viable for hundreds of years until the soil is disturbed and the spores inhaled.
There is a small island in the UK that was used as a test site for weaponized anthrax. It is still infective and you can’t go there without protective gear and permission.”
“Once symptomatic, rabies has a 100%* fatality rate.
The only options are the rabies vaccine and immunoglobulin therapy, which, again, must be administered before any symptoms.”
21. Something to think about.
“Gamma Ray Bursts (henceforth referred to as GRBs).
GRBs are a rare phenomenon emitted from the poles of rapidly spinning supernova and hypernova. In the event of a direct hit from suitably close (which is actually really, really far), all life on earth would be wiped out.
The facing side would be annihilated instantly, while the trailing side would quickly d** due to the conditions on earth no longer being suitable to support life.
And there is absolutely nothing we can do about it.”
22. A big one coming?
“The Cascadia Subduction Zone (CSZ) runs off the coast of northern California to southern Canada and ruptures about every 250-350 years.
We know this from the geologic record. The last rupture was in January 1700 and there are written records from Japan of a tsunami that resulted from the earthquake on the other side of the Pacific.
This zone is still active and is likely to rupture in the next 100 years resulting in a mag 9+ earthquake that impacts the west coast from northern Cali to southern Canada.”
“Prions. Misfolded proteins that cause a cascade of protein misfoldings that lead to amyloid plaque buildups, resulting in uncontrollable neurodegeneration that is fatal in 100% of cases within two years.
There is no cure.
We don’t understand what causes it. We don’t understand the mechanism of the misfolding cascade. We don’t even fully understand the structure of the misfolded proteins.
It could in theory happen to anyone, at any time, and there’s no way to tell until you start showing symptoms, at which point you might have 18 months to live, if you’re lucky, the last 6 of which will be intensely unpleasant.”
24. On the brink.
“Insects are going extinct.
We have lost a significant chunk just since the 1980s. I think it was around 20%? Mozzies are going up, because of course, but just about everything else is going.
Wasn’t until I read this that I realized that as a kid in the 90s I used to see butterflies all the time. Dragonflies. My house used to get invaded by Christmas beetles every year.
Not so much. These days I might see only one or two Christmas beetles in December, if any at all. When I was a kid I remember finding eight in my house in a single night… same house.”
“Everyone knows about scurvy, but the reason it’s so terrifying is usually less know.
You see scar tissue is not permanent, the process to build and maintain scar tissue is constantly ongoing. When you become vitamin C deficient your scar tissue starts being reabsorbed by your body. Opening up any and all old wounds. If you have ever had surgery those internal incisions will open back up.
Fortunately it doesn’t take a lot of vitamin C and it’s abundant in our food sources, but it’s still a little creepy that you could just start falling apart without it.”
Now it’s your turn!
In the comments, tell us some more scary science facts.
We look forward to it!