Y2K was supposed to be the end of the world, but somehow, mankind found a way to survive the threat of switching to a new millennium (it was a close one!). We even found a way to drill a hole into that meteor that was headed for Earth thanks to Bruce Willis and Ben Affleck’s shared undying love for Liv Tyler! That may have been a movie, but that’s neither here nor there.
The point is, man has found a way to keep on going through the ages and the Earth has managed to not explode and burn us all alive – yet. It may seem like the end of the world is something only that crazy old lady next door talks about, but the truth is, there are actually a few very real ways life as we know could cease to exist – and not just in 100 million years from now.
The world is full of so many unpredictable things – and so is the galaxy, for that matter. While this doesn’t mean you should run for the hills just yet, there are a few things about this crazy planet you should know. Here are some very real, and pretty insane ways the world could actually come to an end tomorrow – or maybe next Monday. We just don’t know! But look at the bright side: we’re almost, sort of, completely, pretty much sure they probably won’t happen tomorrow – or next Monday.
10. An Asteroid Could Blow Us to Smithereens
So, minus Bruce Willis and co., the Armageddon movie plot is something that can actually happen at any given moment. An asteroid hit the earth roughly 66 million years ago, causing complete devastation to almost everything on the planet. Scientists believe this is what wiped out the dinosaurs. The asteroid blast was catastrophic and there’s nothing to say it couldn’t happen again.
Astronomers keep their eyes on meteors loitering around the planet but the truth is, they can only see a very small percentage of what’s actually out there. And if a giant asteroid headed for Earth at light speed was detected, what could actually be done about it? The really scary part is, no one really knows what the likelihood of this phenomenon is, either.
Just keep your fingers crossed and hope this doesn’t happen until you’ve at least been able to cross a few things off your bucket list!
9. Scientists Can Cook Up a Disease to Wipe Us All Out
Walter White may have seemed like a bad guy but at least he didn’t unleash a deadly engineered disease onto the entire world. It’s true, you guys; there are some crazy-eyed scientists out there who have the ability to create engineered diseases! If said diseases were to accidentally make it out of the lab and even one person became infected, a worldwide epidemic could be unleashed, wiping out the human race. It sounds like a movie, doesn’t it?
Well, in 2011, researchers did create the H5N1 virus, a mutated bird flu that was transmitted to ferrets and was able to be spread through the air. There were quite a few unhappy peeps in the science world when that little experiment was undertaken, but just the fact that it can be done is super creepy.
Be nice to science geeks in your class. They could potentially become the developers of the next engineered diseases and you do NOT want to be on their black list.
8. A Full Out Nuclear War
There are nine countries that currently possess about 15,000 nuclear weapons between them. That’s about 15,000 nuclear weapons too many! Threats from North Korea have made some of the world leaders uneasy and with good reason. If a nuclear war broke out, we could potentially see the end of the world in a matter of minutes!
Don’t freak out. Efforts are being made to contain and reduce the amount of nuclear weapons each country has. There probably won’t be a nuclear war tomorrow, but the fact remains that the powder to end all things exists and is in the hands of a select few! That’s more than a little unsettling.
7. Earth Could Get Blown Up by a Supernova
A supernova occurs when a star explodes. A stellar explosion gives off a gamma ray, which is an electromagnetic radiation that could literally blow up our planet and everything in it. Supernovas usually occur a long way off from Earth, but should one happen within close range – like 30 light years away – it could be the end of Earth and every living thing here.
Though it is unlikely, it is not impossible. And like with the possibility of being obliterated by an asteroid, we have absolutely no idea when or if this might happen. Let’s just hope the next supernova explosion is targeted at Pluto instead – are you a planet or not?! Make up your mind!
6. The Yellowstone Supervolcano Could Erupt
The last time a supervolcano – which is like a regular volcano except about 1,000 times more powerful – erupted was about 27,000 years ago in New Zealand. And the Yellowstone volcano itself last erupted about 640,000 years ago. In our lifetime, it has been considered inactive. But in the last few years, scientists have found the volcano to be a little more active than they had originally believed.
If this supervolcano were to erupt, it could kill as many as 90,000 people instantly. It would cover two-thirds of the United States in ash, leaving it inhospitable to any form of life. The sulfuric gas released from the eruption would change the climate, making it a cold, “volcanic winter.” While it wouldn’t actually be the end of the entire world in an instant, it would kill off a pretty good part of it. And because our worldwide economies are so interdependent on one another, we could potentially see civil and political uproars all across the globe, resulting in total and complete chaos.
5. The Terminator Could Bring About Judgment Day
While robots may seem like something out of a movie, the United Nations actually did impose a ban on killer robots this year. Not just robots, you guys. Killer robots! Is someone making these already? Um, WTF? What would happen if killer robots – who would undoubtedly be smarter than us – were to actually exist?
Computer scientists seem to think the creation of robots armed with deadly weapons could have a disastrous effect on the world, and we can see why. As if people with weapons aren’t bad enough. Now we’re talking artificial intelligence armed with lethal weapons? We’re just going to go back to our world of ignorance where our biggest concern is why Kim K keeps posting nude selfies. This is a little less scary. A little.
4. Some New Disease Could Become a Global Pandemic
According to scientists and biologists, a fatal disease spreading across the planet all on its own is a very real possibility. We’ve managed to contain pandemic threats like the bird flu, SARS, AIDS, and even the Ebola virus (or so we think, at least). But when one disease disappears, another one comes out.
Should a lethal disease that spreads relatively easily make an appearance in our world, it’s entirely possible our whole species could be wiped out. The worst part is, we wouldn’t even see it coming! A global pandemic can happen at any time, people. Because worldwide economies are so interdependent and because we have the ability to travel far and wide, the spreading of a disease like the bubonic plague could have disastrous effects on the entire world.
3. A Solar Flare Could Fry Us Like the Colonel Fries Chicken
Solar storms can cause solar flares, which occur when extreme radiation sort of explodes off the surface of the sun. This happens to a small degree all the time. It’s the reason why Britain had the warmest summer on record just last year. But should a major solar flare occur, we’d basically be fried chicken! And not the good pieces; probably those little charred pieces that always end up at the bottom of the bucket…
In 2014, scientists warned there is a possibility of an intense flare aimed at our planet. If that were to happen, it would be similar to “10 billion Hiorshima bombs exploding at the same time.” We’ve been doing some mental math and we’re pretty sure that equates to us becoming a pile of dust! We’re no scientists or mathematicians but 10 billion nuclear bombs sounds like… kind of a lot.
2. The Earth Could Get Tipsy and Fall Off Its Own Axis
The 9.0 magnitude earthquake in Japan in 2011 actually shifted the Earth off its own axis slightly. Not much, but enough to shorten our days by two milliseconds. If major earthquakes continued to happen all over the planet, there is a chance the Earth could be forced off its axis, basically neutralizing all forms of life on this planet.
The precise placement of the Earth’s axis is what keeps mankind and all other life forms thriving. So if Earth slips, that’s the end of life as we know it. But the really scary part is that this can happen anytime and maybe even without any warning.
1. We Might Create a Black Hole that Will Swallow the Earth
So there is a teeny tiny chance that scientists on this planet have the power to create particle accelerators that could potentially swallow us up into oblivion. In 2008, the world’s largest particle accelerator was turned on and the scientific community began wondering about the possibility of whether or not it had the power to turn into a black hole that could vaporize us.
While it obviously didn’t happen then, the technology exists and we created it! The odds of this happening are about one in 50 million. So you can take comfort in knowing that almost every other possibility on this list is more likely to kill us all than this one.