They haven’t been proven yet, but here are some of the scariest scientific theories that have been proposed, as told on AskReddit. Check them out below! A link to the source can be found on the last page.
vCJD, the human form of mad cow disease, may have a decades long incubation period and cause thousands of deaths in the future.
In cattle, the incubation period can be up to 5 years but we have no idea whether or not it could be longer in humans, and there’s no routine method to detect the prion which causes it. Almost half a million infected cows entered the food chain but only a few hundred cases have been reported. Essentially anyone who ate British beef in the 90’s could be at risk of a horrible death, with no way to predict or prevent it.
Quantum Suicide/Quantum Immortality. The idea that we never really die in our perspective. Every time we encounter a situation where we may die, we continue on in a parallel universe where something happens that prevents our death. But we die in the original universe. In a sense, our consciousness lives on by transferring itself to a parallel universe where we continue to exist.
This is more a philosophical theory than scientific, but well… Determinism.
What if every single decision you and everyone else ever made was exclusively the result of the chemical reactions inside your head/around you.
Personality? Choice? Free will? Illusions, my friend, everything is decided by the atoms, and we have no control at all. If determinism is true, the future is set in stone, and our conscience is but an unintentional side effect of the atoms that compose us doing their tasks.
Huntington’s disease is a degenerative disorder of the central nervous system. Think Alzheimer’s but way worse. It’s basically a genetic disorder that causes rapidly progressing dementia. It usually presents after age 50. This is after childbearing age, so it’s basically immune to natural selection against it. It usually runs in families, but doesn’t have to. Anyone reading this could have it and not realize.
Dying of Hintington’s or similar diseases is also miserable. The parts of the brain controlling vital bodily functions are eventually destroyed, but only after your personality and memories. People asphyxiate because they forget how to breathe.
How Yellowstone National Park is a super volcano that could potentially wipe out a huge chunk of the United States in one eruption.
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Basically, it is a huge solar flare that probably hasn’t happened in our Solar System, but we have observed stars that have weaker magnetic fields than the Sun that exhibit superflares. The largest solar flare that we have recorded was the Carrington event. It happened in 1859 and was so strong, it could be seen with the naked eye and even set telegraph systems on fire.
That was only 1/10,000 the energy of the largest known superflares. If one were to happen, the effects are pretty grim:
– Airline passengers would receive high-doses of radiation.
– All satellites would be damaged, but probably broken.
– The ozone layer would be done.
– Loss of most radio communications.
– For a strong one, the Sun’s luminosity increase could cause ice to melt as far as the moons of Jupiter.
That our universe is just a simulation that has been left on overnight and sometime we’ll just be switched off.
There are 400 billion stars in the Milky Way.
20 billion Sun-like stars in the Milky Way.
Recent discoveries show a fifth of them have an Earth sized planet in the zone that can support life.
4 billion planets in the Milky Way, fit for life.
If 0.1% of these have alien life, the Milky Way would have 4 million planets with life.
Now if we built space ships to sustain a population for 1,000 years, exponential growth means that in as little as 2 million years we could colonize every habital planet in the Milky Way.
Now the Milky Way is one Galaxy in the universe, which has more Galaxy’s than grains of sand on Earth. Now ramp up the above.
So where are all the aliens?
To add to the eventual following question:
Imagine a squirrel. All it needs to survive in it’s mind is a tree. Now humans decide to clear forests, not because they hate squirrels but because we need the resources. Sure we acknowledge destroying it’s environment, but our wishes supersede.
Aliens may evaporate our oceans for water and their equivalent of conservation groups will push for us to keep land locked lakes. But we are a squirrel to them. You can’t explain a super highway to a squirrel.
The Fermi Paradox.
Basic smell. If you smell it. It’s inside of you now. Smelling is based on particles.
You smell crap. Crap is in your nose. The homeless man’s feet? His toe is in your nose.
Most people don’t know how it actually works.
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Look at your hands.
Seriously. Look at them.
Without those in that convenient opposable thumb configuration, all else the same. Human society past the stone age would not exist. Technology wouldn’t exist. We would still be smart, we would still think the same, we would still laugh, love, and think. And for all intents and purposes, we would still be sentient and sapient.
But we wouldn’t be able to manipulate objects efficiently.
You can’t make a tool with flippers or wings or hooves. You can’t farm, You can’t build a computer with out hands.
So, how many sapient and sentient species are there that can never ever ever get past the stone age due to a lack of sufficiently prehensile grappling appendages?
What if we are not alone, but a large majority are forever trapped on their planet, never able to explore or see the full potential of conscious thought. Never able to answer questions they have about their world. Unable to even make something as simple as art or music.
We can at least call out for an answer to the question are we alone? We can listen for an answer.
They never can.
I think that’s one of the great filters preventing higher civilizations from rising. Simple lack of prehensile grappling appendages.
A strangelet is a hypothetical particle that is composed of up, down, and strange quarks. (For comparison, a proton is composed of two up quarks and a down quark, and a neutron is composed of an up quark and two down quarks.) Some physicists have theorized that strange matter – matter which is made up of strangelets – might actually be what composes dark matter. If that’s true, then 85% of the matter in the universe could be strange matter.
On its own, the theory just sounds mildly interesting.
In fact, it’s utterly terrifying in its implications.
See, due to the way that subatomic particles interact, large collections of strange matter are thought to be more stable than smaller ones. The bigger a given strange mass is, the hardier it is, so to speak. As such, all it would take to completely doom the planet is a strangelet the size of a helium atom, because when baryonic matter – atoms made up of protons and neutrons – comes into contact with strange matter, it gets converted into strange matter. The chain reaction would reduce the Earth to a huge, hot, homogeneous “strange star,” and there would be absolutely nothing we could do about it.
It gets worse, though.
Remember how I mentioned some physicists theorize that strange matter makes up dark matter?
Well, have you heard of The Great Attractor?
This is a region of space that seems to contain an unfathomably large mass, which is pulling all of the galaxies around us – including our own – toward it. We have very little idea what it actually is, but we can see its effects. There are numerous theories on the anomaly, with some being a little bit more reasonable than others. One idea that’s popular with laymen, however, is that The Great Attractor is composed entirely of dark matter… or as we discussed earlier, strange matter.
In other words, it might only be a matter of time before the entire universe is converted.
Wouldn’t that be strange?
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The idea that humans might be to machine intelligence what cells were to plants and animals, or RNA was to cells, or molecules were to RNA, etc.
In short, a necessary evolutionary precedent.
Hubble’s Law: Simple really, our universe is expanding every second, and with that the galaxies within our universe are (generally) moving relative to this expansion. Meaning, over an inconceivable amount of time, galaxies will be so incredibly far away from each other that the existence of other galaxies will be unknown to any other future intelligent life forms.
In other words, if we (humans) instead existed in a time and place extremely far ahead in the future, where the expansion is already present, we would have no evidence showing us that different galaxies even exist; our galaxy would instead be our universe.
Our universe is not as stable as we thought and could shift into a more stable state at anytime effectively erasing everything we know. We wouldn’t have any warning the Earth and everyone on it would just disappear at the speed of light.
This was simplified beyond belief but I hope you get the gist.
False vacuum, the theory that our universe is the same as a bubble in a pot, rising to the top over tens of billions of years, only to pop once it reaches the top, effectively ending all creation and existence.
Also, the great filter is pretty terrifying. Basically, it says that the reason why we have not encountered life outside of our planet is that before any advanced civilization is able to colonize the stars, somewhere out in the universe is a filter that ultimately stops them from doing so. Even more interesting, is where Earth stands in this. What I mean by this is Earth is pretty much in one of two scenarios. Scenario one: We have not hit the filter yet, which means we are ultimately doomed, and find life on any planet within close proximity would be horrible news because that would all but assure we have to hit the filter yet. The second scenario, we have hit the filter, which means two things. Thing one, we are INCREDIBLY RARE. This filter is very selective on which species are allowed to stay, so we would probably be one of the first. And two, we will almost never encounter alien life for hundreds of billions of years to come, assuming the human race stays around that long.
That if a meteorite struck in Siberia and maintained enough heat to set fire to the forest around it, there would be nothing we could do about the massive forest fire that would ensue. All of Siberia would burn and we would be wiped out by an ash cloud similar to the one that’s theorized to have wiped out the dinosaurs.
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We can usually only see comets when they are inside of the frost line (roughly the asteroid belt) because they are bright and begin to sublimate and a tail is produced. Comets have very eccentric orbits, so they spend a majority of the time outside of the frost line, and out of our view. Since they are so difficult to detect, we have only found around a couple thousand of them. There are most likely hundreds of millions if not billions of comets in our solar system. It is very possible that there is a comet on a collision course with Earth, and we would not be able to see it until it crosses the frost line. By then, it would be about 6 months out from impacting us. There is absolutely nothing we could do to stop it in 6 months. Also since comets have very eccentric orbits, their relative velocity to Earth is much higher than an asteroid, so it would cause much more damage. I’m talking global climate change and possible extinction of our species. A comet impact would be vastly more devastating than the impact that wiped out the dinosaurs.
Genetic engineering now is getting good. Like, really good. CRISPR is a new technique that is a great way to edit the DNA of microorganisms. Scientists can breed bacteria to produce certain useful substances, like antibodies or insulin. They can also theoretically produce viruses that could edit the DNA of human cells. Imagine an out of control infectious agent that changes our DNA in unpredictable ways. Basically super cancer. There are dozens of other ethical problems, from designer babies to socio-economics.
Also, remember Mendel and his pea plants and squares? Well, genetics don’t quite work that way. There are ways to favor a certain trait over another when reproducing, and scientists are figuring out how to do it. There’s already discussion about introducing a gene into African mosquitoes that will eventually render the whole population sterile and, inevitably, extinct. Some bioengineers figure that they can irradiate mosquitoes within five years of initial introduction.
That’s great, right? No more malaria or west Nile.
But what if someone did the same to us?
Program a gene into a virus, infect some poor unsuspecting fellow changing his DNA, and allow it to spread like a silent plague. It won’t take that many generations for most of humanity to be infected. Nigh unstoppable genocide.
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Oddly enough, some scientists believe that the size of certain bug’s (specifically spiders) sizes are proportional to the amount of oxygen that is in the air.
You can split a person’s brain down the middle, entirely severing the connection between the hemispheres. By showing things to different parts of the visual field, you can give information to the hemispheres separately – so one hemisphere can know things that the other does not. As far as we can tell, both hemispheres are conscious beings with hopes and dreams. Usually one hemisphere can’t speak, but from non-verbal indications we can clearly see it has a very human level intelligence. Other times, both hemispheres can speak.
Split brain patients don’t notice nor particularly care that they are split brained. Neither hemisphere seems perturbed by the separation. Verbally, split brain patients say they can’t even tell. And, as far as we can tell, it’s not like the non-verbal hemisphere is screaming quietly or anything. The splitting process just…doesn’t seem to impact people very much, although I did see some reports of people’s left hands doing actions that their verbal hemisphere didn’t seem to agree with. (Unbuttoning shirts they didn’t like, etc)
What does it mean, that we can cut our minds in half and not even notice? What does that mean about our everyday existence? What does that mean of our perception of ourselves as a coherent consciousness? Do we really communicate so little with ourselves that we wouldn’t feel the sudden separation of half of us? What else about ourselves might we not even notice? On the other hand, I guess it’s also kind of inspiring that somehow, everything still more or less works!
Many people don’t realise how relatively common asteroids entering our atmosphere are. I’m talking about 0.1 – 1000’s of kiloton explosions. Dozens each year. Look at this list of air bursts and their energies. Most explode high up in the atmosphere and are harmless. Some explode a bit lower and shatter windows (remember Chelyabinsk)
And once in a while there is an event like the Tunguska event which leveled 2000 km of forest.
Imagine something like that happening in a modern metropole.
And we have no way of stopping it.
The nearest black hole is about 6,000 light years away, not close enough to ever do any damage. Even the closest stars that could potentially go supernova are far enough away to be completely harmless. Personally, I’d love to see Betelgeuse explode, but that probably won’t happen in my life. Or if it’s already happened, I probably won’t be around to see it.
What’s really scary though are rogue black holes. As the name would imply, rogue black holes don’t have much of a fixed position. They wander around the galaxy aimlessly swallowing up anything in their path. Anything unfortunate to somehow resist a black hole’s intense gravity and get close enough to touch it’s event horizon would be immediately swallowed up never to be seen again. Well that’s not exactly true I guess. Theoretically, you’ll actually be able to see someone go into a black hole, or at least right up to the very edge of it. As gravity slows the speed of the image escaping though, it will appear the object getting sucked in will move towards the event horizon infinitely slowly until it almost stops moving completely. Eventually, the image will fade away long before it actually disappears into the black hole. What’s really happening that you can’t see from the outside is called ‘spaghettification’.
Spaghettification is pretty much as bad as it sounds, and not nearly as delicious. As you are standing right now, or probably sitting, your feet are experiencing stronger gravity than your head because it is closer to the source of the gravity (the central Earth). The same thing happens in a black hole but to a much much larger scale. So much larger in fact that if you were to go into a black hole feet first, you would be stretched out with your feet stretching further than your head because they are under more gravitational strain. Spaghettification. Eventually you would be stretched out so far that what used to be your body would now be a single file line of atoms. In theory, they would keep spreading apart until they reached the singularity, the center of the black hole. Any theories regarding what happens at the singularity have very little to base off themselves off though, so its hard to know what happens next.
There are supposedly hundreds of rogue black holes bouncing around our galaxy. Although the methods of detection are getting better, they aren’t perfect. A black hole could be flying at us right now and we wouldn’t even know it. Personally, I’d rather have it that way. There is nothing we can do to stop or get out of the way of a black hole, so I’d rather not know it was coming than know inevitable spaghettification was looming around the corner.