The 10 Most Disturbing Scientific Discoveries Ever

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The 10 Most Disturbing Scientific Discoveries Ever

VOICE OVER: Peter DeGiglio WRITTEN BY: Whitney Wilson
These important scientific discoveries will blow your mind! For this list, we'll be looking at the scariest and strangest things that scientists have ever discovered. Our countdown includes Supervolcano Under Yellowstone, Antibiotic-Resistant Superbugs, Dark Matter & Dark Energy, and more!
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Top 10 Most Disturbing Scientific Discoveries


Welcome to WatchMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Most Disturbing Scientific Discoveries.

For this list, we’ll be looking at the scariest and strangest things that scientists have ever discovered.

What’s the most bizarre science fact you know? Share it with us in the comments!

#10: Supervolcano Under Yellowstone

As the first national park in the United States, Yellowstone is known for its incredible wildlife, picturesque landscapes and stunning geothermal features, specifically geysers. Old Faithful and the other geysers and hot springs are the result of volcanic activity under the park. The Yellowstone Supervolcano has had three supereruptions in the past 2.1 million years, and scientists believe all three events led to extinctions and changes in worldwide weather patterns. While another supereruption is unlikely to happen any time soon and the area is under constant supervision, the next major event could significantly alter the world as we know it.

#9: Black Holes

While black holes were predicted by Einstein’s theory of general relativity, even Einstein was skeptical. In 1971 however, several researchers confirmed that an astronomical object discovered in the previous decade was in fact a black hole. Black holes are the result of stars exploding into supernovas at the end of their life cycles and those supernovas in turn collapsing in on themselves. They’re areas with extraordinary mass and such powerful gravitational forces that not even light can escape their pull. The largest kind, supermassive black holes, have the same mass as several million suns. These enormous objects are large enough to absorb stars, so it’s no wonder they feature in so many terrifying science fiction scenes.

#8: Lingering Radioactivity

The lingering potency of radioactive material is pretty disturbing. An extraordinary example comes from the fate of Marie Curie, a brilliant scientist who conducted pioneering research into radioactivity. The aplastic anemia that caused her death in 1934 was tied to long-term exposure to radioactive materials and x-rays. To this day, her cookbooks and papers from the 1890s are still considered dangerously radioactive and can only be handled when wearing special protective clothing. Both Curie’s remains and her papers are stored in lead lining due to their lingering radioactivity. It’s crazy to think how long radioactivity can remain, but at least we now have the knowledge and tools to avoid it in high doses.


#7: Germs

The idea that tiny organisms, invisible to the naked eye, sneak inside us and make us sick only achieved widespread acceptance relatively recently - in the late 19th century. Maybe that’s because, when you think about it, it’s so damn creepy! Before then, the miasma theory dominated thought, teaching that illness was the result of bad air. Now we know that microorganisms are to blame, invading our bodies in various ways - infiltrating our airways or hitching a lift in our food. From mild colds to devastating illnesses, germs can cause all sorts of maladies. Of course, now that we know germs are there, we’ve been able to develop effective treatments for many of them. But it’s still an unnerving discovery!

#6: Scale of the Universe

Only in the last century have we come to realize just how old and enormous the universe is. They say it’s a small world, but even our home planet is big enough to house billions of us. Our beautiful sun is massive compared to Earth, but it is tiny compared to the rest of the galaxy, which contains over 100 billion other stars. Beyond our own Milky Way, there are several hundred billion other galaxies across the known universe, estimated to be about 46.5 billion years across. Beyond that, the vastness of space continues - with a total diameter of at least 23 trillion light years! Just thinking about it makes our heads spin!

#5: Antibiotic-Resistant Superbugs

Antibiotics are, without a doubt, one of the most amazing inventions in medicine and have saved millions of lives. Unfortunately, as medicine advances, so do the things that make us sick. Antibiotics are seriously overprescribed, and this has helped germs evolve to become resistant to their effects. While antibacterial products are incredible, the more we use them, the stronger superbugs become. We’re not saying you should stop washing your hands or anything, but maybe reach for a non-antibacterial soap if you can the next time you lather up.

#4: The Powerful Unconscious Mind

We like to think that we’re in charge of our own minds and decisions. But in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Austrian psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud popularized the idea that a vast unconscious mind directs our actions. In the 1970s, American neuroscientist Benjamin Libet conducted a famous experiment that seemed to show that unconscious processes precede conscious “decisions”. Of course, advertisers have known this for a long time, taking advantage to create positive associations with their products. On the up side, some studies have shown that relying on your unconscious mind can result in better decision-making, especially when it comes to complex decisions.

#3: Dark Matter & Dark Energy

Scientists believe that dark energy makes up 27% of the observable universe, and dark energy 68%. What are they, you ask? No one knows. We’ve known about dark matter since the 1930s, when astronomers realized that galaxies would behave differently without the gravitational effects of unseen matter. Our knowledge of dark energy is more recent. In 1998, researchers discovered that the rate at which the universe is expanding is accelerating. The leading explanation is that the cause is an unknown form of energy. That means that only about five percent of the universe is made up of something we somewhat understand.

#2: Mass Extinctions

Life finds a way, right? Well, not all the time. Thanks to the work of paleontologists, we know now that there have been at least five periods throughout history where countless species have disappeared off the face of the planet. The worst that we know about, the Permian-triassic Extinction 250 million years ago, killed off 90% of the planet’s species! The most recent was the Cretaceous-tertiary Extinction that killed off the dinosaurs 65 million years ago. Many scientists believe that due to human activity, the Earth is currently experiencing a sixth mass extinction, with about 900 species disappearing in the last five centuries, and 1 million more now at risk.


#1: Climate Change

From receding glaciers to more intense hurricane seasons, we see the impacts of climate change everywhere. While Earth does have natural cycles of changing temperatures, this warming cycle is unlike anything the planet has ever experienced. Human activities such as burning fossil fuels have released massive amounts of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere, causing major changes since the 19th century. With skyrocketing greenhouse gasses, it’s no wonder we’re experiencing drastic shifts in the planet’s climate. While there are efforts to reduce the amount of warming we’ll see in coming years, they’re currently not enough to achieve the goals established by the Paris Agreement.
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