10 Experiments That Could Have DESTROYED The World
If there’s one thing that humans are really good at, it’s destroying things. In this frightening installment, we’re looking at ten experiments that very well could have and may still spell the end of the world.
Nanotechnology is such an interesting facet of the future, but do we stop and think about what damage these little robots can do? Not unlike the oil-eating superbugs, there are fears that self-replicating nanomachines may get out of control and absorb all matter on Earth, leaving behind nothing but gray goo, lifelessness, and uninhabitable lands. The aptly titled "grey goo" scenario is probably the most cautioned outcome of nanotechnology, but there’s another unpleasant one out there. As nanomachines absorb organic matter, they would likely leave behind refuse, which, over time, could lead to an ever growing mass of nano-waste. Goodbye greenery, hello wasteland!
Kola Superdeep Borehole
Nothing says love for your planet like burrowing a giant, 30 mile or 50 kilometer wide, 7 mile or 12 kilometer deep hole into her. The drilling was started by the Soviets in 1970 to see just how far into the Earth's crust one could drill. Over the course of 24 years, Soviet's dug into the Kola Peninsula, not taking into account the dangers that could be waiting for them. Had they not read Journey to the Center of the Earth? What if they ran into giant lizards, prehistoric beasts, and a deadly ocean? All kidding aside, such extensive drilling could bring a risk of heavy fracking and uncontrollable seismic forces - but who needs to worry about massive earthquakes?
The oil-eating superbug. A bacteria designed to eat petroleum, a resource that we use on a daily basis, every nanosecond of the day. Seems like a reasonable creation, right? Sure, the superbug was designed to help with cleaning up oil spills, but what if we were to lose control of it? These superbugs could reproduce at astonishing rates, dominate other bacteria, and start to compete with other organisms, creating the plot line for the next SyFy blockbuster. There's also the threat of the bacteria actually consuming supplies of petroleum, quickly sending us back to horse-drawn carriages.
Weaponizing the Plague
We're not even sure how this sounded like a good idea at any point in time. In case you need a refresher, the bubonic plague wiped out nearly 60% of Europe in the 14th Century, an estimated 25 to 50 million people in 5 years. So, it makes perfect sense that, in the 1980's, the Soviets went ahead and weaponized the Black Death, creating a strain that was resistant to cold, heat, and multiple antibiotics. We could go over all the many, many ways that this could go wrong, but something tells us we don't really have to, so we'll just mention one - It could spread uncontrollably. That alone should be reason enough to avoid weaponizing one of history's most calamitous diseases.
Ever since the inception of nuclear weapons, we've had this strange urge to detonate them just about everywhere. The Soviets enjoyed a stint of subterranean detonation in the late 80's while in 1962, and the United States went ahead and detonated 6 warheads as a high-altitude test, some 250 miles or 400 kilometers in the sky. Besides even the fear of lingering radiation, we could have been faced with an altered geomagnetic field, which could have lead to dangerous cosmic rays, large earthquakes, and heavy solar winds. Luckily, there seemed to have been no long-lasting effects of the tests, save for a few malfunctioned satellites.
We swear there's one big dare around the global scientific community to see who can work on the most dangerous projects. One experiment in question uses a super-charged particle accelerator to collide particles at the speed of light - you know, for fun, and maybe to help possibly recreate the beginning of life. The problem is the possible creation of strangelets, which can cause a chain reaction and turn everything into strange matter. Should that chain reaction continue, turning every living particle into strange matter, we'd be well on our way to a really, really bad day. But just one, because then we'd be dead.
Project Mercury and Volcano
Throughout history, there has been some strange obsession with weaponizing the already destructive forces of Earth. In regards to the Russian run Projects Mercury and Volcano, the goal was to create severe earthquakes and debilitating electromagnetic fields to cripple their enemies. The experiments lasted from 1987 to 1992, during which it is believed Russia detonated three subterranean nuclear weapons in Kyrgyzstan. Should the tectonic plates had been disrupted off their normal course, the world could have experienced severe and destructive earthquakes along with a debilitating change in the electromagnetic fields. We've seen how devastating nuclear weapons can be, which begs the question of why we'd willingly use them to alter our own planet.
Quantum Zeno Effect
Maybe we can come to a consensus one day to stop playing with things we don't totally understand. Until then, though, scientists will continue tinkering with their toys and diving headfirst into experiments like the Quantum Zeno effect. According to this study, unstable particles will cease their evolution of decay if they are constantly observed. Doesn't sound so bad, right? Well, some scientists, such as Professor Lawrence M. Krauss, believe that this constant observation can actually shorten the life span of the universe. There are those that believe Krauss is a little off kilter with his theories, but maybe we should err on the side of caution for this one and not prematurely kill the universe.
Weaponized Magnaporthe Grisea
This plant-pathogenic fungus is dangerous all on its own, so it seems appropriate that, during the Cold War, the United States worked to weaponize it. Magnaporthe Grisea is a devastating fungus that can lay waste to wheat, rice, rye, and barley, five essential grains that we kind of have grown accustomed to having. Consider a scenario where the weaponized form is utilized, but is completely uncontrollable. How long until it spreads throughout the world and, even more terrifying, until it caused a worldwide famine.
The Large Hadron Collider
You know what sounds like a great idea? Creating man-made, experimental black holes that can, oh, just devour everything we hold true and dear to our hearts. Sure that's a bit dramatic, especially knowing that tiny black holes aren't as dangerous as their much larger brothers, but we didn't always know that, and scientists still pushed forward in trying to recreate the processes of our universe. Stephen Hawking's more modern and widely accepted theory states that a black hole that's too small would just evaporate, leaving us and our beautiful planet to stick around until the next great scientific experiment.