As our planet earth hurdles through space at dizzying speeds and rotations, things are happening all of the time at every single moment throughout the universe that could have a profound affect on us as a species. And at every moment, life has the potential to end due to millions upon billions of things that are completely beyond our control.
Thankfully, though, we don’t spend our lives thinking about that.
We may get little flashes of anxiety, but for the most part, we need to live our lives. People can’t be caught up in that fear all the time.
Unless it’s their job to.
Enter scientists, who think of all the scary things in the world at all times so that you don’t have to.
We really owe it to scientists.
So when Redditor LukasXB78 asked:
“Hello scientists of Reddit, what’s a scary science fact that the public knows nothing about?”
The scientists were eager to share their answers.
It’s Cosmic, It’s Terran, It’s ALL Of Them Honey
“I’ve got three for you: 1: Rabies. 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.”
“2: Gamma Ray Bursts (henceforth referred to as GRBs). GRBs are a rare phenomenon emitted from the poles of rapidly spinning supernovae and hypernovae.”
“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 die due to the conditions on earth no longer being suitable to support life.”
“And there is absolutely nothing we can do about it. Kurzgesagt’s video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RLykC1VN7NY”
“3: Runaway global warming. There are many stores of greenhouse gases (namely carbon dioxide and methane) all over the place.”
“But the conditions required to keep these gasses trapped are delicate. The worst part? It may already be too late to stop, even if humanity immediately ceased all greenhouse gas emissions and put every single resource we have into carbon sequestration.”-zipybug14
“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.”-Nervous_Relation9213
This Toxin, Mr. Bond
“If your dog swins in a lake after receiving a spot on flea treatment – it absolutely decimates the invertibrate population.”
“A large dog swimming in 8 Olympic swimming pools worth of water soon after treatment will leech enough neurotoxin to kill 50% of the lake’s invertebrate population within 48 hours.”
“There’s some awareness of this, but it’s not being taken seriously enough!”-konwiddak
“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.”-shhhhnahcuh
“Scientific litterature 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 diagnose, your brain is already very severely damaged and will never recover from the deficit.”-Matrozi
“The bacteria that causes anthrax, Bacillus anthracis, is part of the normal soil ecology. In the wild, B. anthracis rarely causes illness, and when it does, it’s a cutaneous (skin) infection like a rash.”
“The common soil strains are not particularly infectious to begin with. You can, and we as a civilization have, weaponized B. anthracis.”
“Specifically, we can grow it, make it produce spores (hardy forms of the organism that are resilient), and can aerosolize it for dispersal to cause respiratory anthrax.”
“Having said that, we are on alert for the use of Anthrax, it doesn’t spread in the population after the initial infection, it’s easy to treat with antibiotics, and there are vaccines for it, which our military personnel and researchers already receive.”
“MRSA is a much scarier and more urgent bacterial concern.”-tricksterloki
What’s The Buzz?
“Haven’t seen this one yet – insects are going extinct. We have lost a significant chunk just since the 80s. 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 realised 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.”-Echospite
“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.”-socks4fun
“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.”-FoucaultsPudendum
Poor Mother Earth
“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.”-Berkamin
“If you live in the Netherlands and your house is older than let’s say 100 years and you have not renovated your pluming, chances are fairly high that you can get lead poisoning.”
“It is impossible for water treatment companies to pinpoint where they are and how many, and many building plans do not include the plumbing schematics. So check your pipes for lead, they can do harm, especially to children!”-Wooshmeister55
“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, nobodies vehicle starting, untold billions in fire damage would wreak havoc everywhere, and the machines we depend on to help would be similarly fried.”
“Soooome 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.”-Wimbleston
The truth is, life around us is as fragile as anything else in it. We have such little control over when we end our brief stay on this planet Earth.
But we might as well enjoy the time we know we have—the present.