One of my New Year’s resolutions was to stop picking fights with those guys on corners, holding signs warning of the end times, for two reasons. One, they usually have picket signs, propped with sticks, which are painful when repeatedly striking your head and neck. And two, those guys really seem to be experts in their field of doomsday lunacy and I rarely come prepared for a point counter point debate at 5 am outside a speakeasy on Skid Row. Also, arguments tend to get derailed once I’m accused of being part of the shape shifting lizard cabal.
But regardless of ill conceived plans of late night intellectual sparring and multiple concussions, the amount of people out there picketing the end times is astounding. I’m not sure there’s a census on the headcount but I would estimate it at one Armageddonist for every 32 homeless people, 17 hookers, or three guys dressed like Spider-Man, depending on what part of Los Angeles or Facebook we’re talking about. The point is, there’re a lot of them and they’re all convinced the world is ending in a plethora of ridiculously implausible ways. What bothers me the most is, there’s already a plethora of ridiculously plausible ways it could be curtains for Earthlings… I mean we, humans, all living things, all matter, even the entire universe!
Whether we are the harbingers of our own demise or the universe holds its own fate for us it’s obviously TBD so until then we’ll just keep adding scenarios to the betting pool and hope it all ends in flower petals and puppies. Maybe free whisky too.
So from that betting pool of doom and completely scientific research (because I’m totally a scientist since I have web access and a lab coat point of view) here are 15 scientifically plausible ways humanity might be wiped out.
15. Grey Goo
Yes, what seems like a giant grey blob of goo coming towards you is actually trillions of microscopic nanobots able to consume and rearrange molecules on an atomic level. Or maybe an atom on a molecular level, whichever sounds more scientific (It’s the first one). Either way the blob multiplies indefinitely and consumes all it comes in contact with.
Nanobots are still in their technological infancy but one day very soon, the primary function of these mini machines will be to repair and replicate damaged or even cancerous cells, aiding in the eventual purging of all illness, injury, and disease. But what happens… when man becomes the disease. It’s said that these nanobots could easily become weaponized either intentionally or otherwise.
Once it makes contact with you, the robots will either eat you, and use your matter to build more tiny robots or the robots will consume and replace your cell structure with identical robot atoms much like a cyborg version of the creature from the film The Thing.
14. The Big Crunch
The universe is expanding, accelerating and expanding fast, like really super fast, faster by the second, and it has been since we all popped out of the super dense, quantum singularity that exploded with the big bang some 14 billion years ago. Many experts believe that despite the acceleration of this expansion, it may one day come to a slow grinding halt much like my career as a rapper in the early 2000s.
Once this occurs, all matter and space-time will snap back unto itself, like accidentally shooting yourself in the eye with a rubber band, as opposed to flicking it at its intended target in the next cubical over. Eventually everything contracts into a quantum singularity, so dense that it explodes and creates a new universe where some alternate cyclical versions of ourselves will hopefully occupy a few moments of time and most likely f*ck it up.
13. Gamma Radiation
Sounding like the stuff of super heroes, because it is. Gamma radiation is what gave The Hulk/ Dr. Bruce Banner his power to get really big, green, and everything proof. Then throw tantrums and smash stuff. Great concept.
In reality, gamma radiation is the brightest, most powerful stuff the universe has to offer. Forged in the destructive power of a supernova or the merging of two neutron stars, these waves of radioactive destruction could cook our planet with more energy than our sun will expel over its entire lifetime. That’s ten billion years of compressed power, traveling at the speed of light vaporizing anything in its path.
Good news is, the planet is probably safe from gamma ray bursts for the time being, with an average gamma radiation bombardment every 5 million years or so. In fact, for the planet to be affected, the origin of the blast would have to be within 5000 to 8000 light years from us and none of our cosmic solar neighbors appears to be exploding any time soon.
12. Other Solar Stuff
Besides gamma rays projecting from giant distant explosions, there’s a myriad of ways our own sun may turn against us, killing everything, in the blink of an eye. The most popular and likely of these scenarios being solar flares.
Solar flares can occur at any moment any time, the most recent, being in 1859 and dubbed the Carrington Event. Causing widespread panic and disruption to humanities early electrical grids, the event didn’t throw too much shade on the civilized world, however if something like the that were to happen today, humanity would pretty much come to a standstill.
The flare would rip apart the earth’s magnetic field, causing every electronic device to shut down, including nuclear facilities, water plants, phones, even Netflix. We would be living in a world not unlike Kevin Costner’s The Postman. Followed by Kevin Costner’s Waterworld. Basically you get to hang out with Kevin Costner. That’s if we’re lucky.
If it’s a big solar flare, we all get burned up like Nicolas Cage’s career or Nicolas Cage in the film Knowing.
11. Ocean Acidification
Moving away from things in space that hate us, ocean acidification is something that is actually happening right now, as we speak. It’s a direct result of high carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere and is slowly lowering the oceans of the world’s pH balance, causing acid levels to rise.
The earth’s oceans have been sort of consistent with its pH levels, averaging about 8.2 -8.1 but has dropped 25% in the last two hundred years. If it drops bellow 7 pH units, we’re pretty much doomed.
It should be a no brainer that if the oceans become acidic and die off, it would cause a snowball effect that would destroy entire ecosystems of the world and spur a mass extinction event much like The Great Dying, which occurred almost 300 million years ago. This is one of the few apocalyptic scenarios we may be able to avoid, if we can ever get around to it.
Back to things in space that hate us. Yes, aliens, and I’m not going off the scientific books with this one. According to many top astrophysicists and the offices of Captain Obvious, the likelihood of encountering an intelligent species beyond our solar system increases with our ability to reach farther into the stars.
NASA even predicts we’ll discover extra terrestrial life by the year 2025, and History Channel is almost, pretty, kinda certain we already did, thousands of years ago when aliens came down in their angel-mobiles to steal our gold and Bigfoot or whatever.
The biggest issue: coming in contact with this hypothetical alien species will mean they’re as technologically advanced as we are, if not eons ahead of us. Most likely the latter, since they’ll probably come to us way before we’re capable of landing on an alien inhabited planet. Which means, regardless of their intentions they’d most likely absorb and assimilate our cultures into theirs, like what happened when Columbus came to the Americas, or punk thankfully absorbed ska music, which may not be the death of the human race but an end to our humanity. Or both. Sci-Fi movies seem pretty on the ball about this kind of stuff, with masterpieces like Alien Armageddon and Battlefield Earth.
9. Nuclear War/Nuclear Winter
Don’t want to die in a nuclear war or the hellish aftermath that is a nuclear winter? Me neither. Unless scenario #10 occurs, we really have no reason for weapons that are designed to basically kill everyone.
Let’s be honest, no matter how much you might hate someone, a specific group of people, let alone an entire region of people, there’s just no reason to detonate a nuclear device, killing untold amounts of people, leveling buildings, and making areas radioactive and uninhabitable for years to come. Talk about the biggest dick move ever, especially if there’s counter attacks, preeminent strikes, or some form of mutually assured annihilation. That means everyone gets nuked and the world slips into a nuclear winter, which could last decades.
In addition to a nuclear blast which, depending on the megatons involved, can destroy an area the size of Connecticut, will make topsoil radioactive, prevent crops from growing, make clean water scarce, and everything is carcinogenic. Over time, everyone dies with the exception of those illuminate jerks in their multigenerational bomb shelters.
8. Someone Turns Off The Simulation
No, it’s not the Matrix. Or is it? Okay maybe not. Or… no.
However, there are prominent and actual scientists who believe our entire existence is being played out in some kind of hyper-real simulation. The theory is based on the probability that our civilization has actually reached a technological singularity, where organic matter and machines are indistinguishable, and we actually live in a virtual world known as an ancestor-simulation, that we as future beings have created for ourselves to exist in.
In these simulations, our conscience and cognitive selves are uploaded so that we may interact with and within the simulation like said Keanu Reeves film. Or we are highly sophisticated programs within the machine, engineered to think we are real, so that we may better interact with the uploaded, organic minds who inhabit this half life hologram.
So what happens when future man decides to turn off the Sim party or the program runs its course and reboots? Well, nothing. We all just sort of bleep out of existence I guess. Or we wake up in giant vats only to discover our human appearances were part of the simulation and we’re actually giant floating brains with tentacles.
Yes, it’s slimy and no, it’s not the first time algae has destroyed the world.
Algae can come in many forms, but is usually a greenish slime that floats around in really gross water, the kind you find in swamps or coffee cups you’ve left unattended for weeks at a time.
Now, it’s within the realm of science to theorize, that coffee cup may become so toxic that the algae will break down water into hydrogen and oxygen (good!), might decide it could no longer survive under those strict conditions, mutate, and begin breaking down salts and produce chlorine gasses (bad!) as a byproduct. If this algae were to spread, it would create a toxic mass extinction event, suffocating anything that can’t breathe chlorine.
A similar event occurred 2.4 billion years ago when bacteria mutated and began producing tons of oxygen as a byproduct, in what was then a carbon dioxide rich environment. This is hailed as Earth’s first mass extinction event and is known as the Great Oxygenation Event. Luckily we breathe oxygen, last time I checked, so for once flatulating mutant bacteria was totally on our side. Take that, early single celled life!
There are currently 5.1 billion known species of fungus, most of which play vital rolls in our ecosystem. Some can be found in our gym socks, and others take you on a magical journey that transcends time and space where you end up wandering away from your friends at Burning Man and get chased by steam punks on old timey big wheeled bikes.
Zombie fungus is a Ophioordyceps fungus that controls the brains of insects. After behaving very unbug like for a while, the insect will stagger its way to the edge of a branch where it will remain motionless as the fungus grows, penetrating the exterior, like a branch, so that it may release more spores to infect more insects.
Currently there are only a few species of insect that are affected by zombie fungus but much like algae, it’s only a mutation away from being able to infect humans, much like in the post apocalyptic zombie scenario in The Girl With All The Gifts staring Gemma Arterton, Dominique Tipper, and Glenn Close.
5. Strange Matter
It was only a matter of time something on this list would be tied to the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, where scientists smash particles trying to recreate the first fractions of time immediately after the Big Bang.
For years prior to 2010 when the HLC was first activated, the Internet was near riotous with talk of it creating a black hole that would engulf the planet and most likely the entire solar system. Luckily, you’re reading this right now, so there’s a bit of evidence to say we have not yet been compressed into a quantum singularity, though I may be wrong.
However, now that it’s the future, black holes are passé and strange matter’s the rage. Strange matter is a theoretical type of quark that could accidentally be created during the particle smashing process. If a piece of strange matter, known as a strangelet, were to break containment, it would have a gravitational field so dense it would pull in and consume all matter it touches, transforming it into more strange matter, causing a cascade effect where everything in the universe eventually becomes strange matter. I wonder if it knows our friend Grey Goo.
4. Planet X
There’s a lot of Internet hoopla regarding Planet X or Nibiru and the spin off hoopla is basically what keeps the folks at Ancient Aliens in business. We’re not going to get into all the ridiculous conspiracies, half truths, and misinterpreted dead languages, suffice to say it’s all a bunch of horse shit. There’s no Planet X, there’s no Nibiru and if you disagree, please post your credit card, bank account, and social security numbers along with your address in the comments section, so I can mail you a letter explaining how I don’t think you’re gullible at all.
There are, however, rogue planets wandering the galaxy without a star to orbit. Scientists believe there may be more rogue planets than there are planets with a gravitational orbit. Even a few lingering just outside our solar system!
One is said to have even hit earth just a mere 4.5 billion years ago. A rogue planet about the size of Mars, known as Theia, fell into the same orbit with the sun as Earth, eventually slamming into us head on. The collision was so intense the cores of the two planets were exposed and coalesced into one, forming the earth. Debris from the impact floating in orbit eventually came together to create the moon.
This scenario isn’t likely to repeat anytime soon but who knows, fringe pseudoscience may be right for once. If it does happen, luckily (but not that it will matter), scientists and astronomers will have lots and lots of warning and for our remaining few decades prior to vaporization, Planet X would be visible to the naked eye, if you were worried about a mass cover up.
3. Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria
Time to take off that tinfoil hat and put on a HAZMAT suit. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) calls antibiotic resistance one of the world’s most pressing health problems.
Studies are showing an increase in cases where antibiotics no longer have any effect on a bacterial infection both within animals and humans. The first case in the U.S. was reported in 2016; the bacterium in a Pennsylvania woman’s UTI was immune to 16 different forms of antibiotic.
This means exactly what it sounds like. Bacteria becomes unstoppable and anything from scratching yourself on a rusty nail to getting the bubonic plague has the potential to kill you in about the same amount of time.
Right now, these super resistant bacteria seem to be confined to contaminated raw meat, so be sure to clean and cook thoroughly; a recent study by the National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring System (NARMS) shows that 75% of chicken and turkey meat was contaminated with E. coli.
2. Global Warming
To be clear, global warming isn’t a theory or even something being debated by anyone in the scientific community. It’s totes 100% real and is simply a term used to describe the gradual rise of the Earth’s average temperature. We’re coming to the end of an ice age and there’s really nothing to be done about that.
Over the past 100 years or so, the planet’s temperature has risen .4 degrees Celsius. That may not seem like much but the polar ice caps have melted more in the last 20 years than in the last 10,000 and at this rate, by 2100 we may not have any polar ice caps and we’re back to a Waterworld scenario. Not to mention all those greenhouse gasses destroying the ozone, which blocks all that harmful radiation from the sun. Luckily sunscreen bottles tend to float.
Aside from all the jokes, global warming is no joke. For some weird reason, we won’t get into right now, global warming has a bad stigma attached to it. As if bringing it up is immediately followed by a barefoot hacky sack sesh, or anarcho diatribe, global warming has, for quite sometime, been debated and even denied (usually by those who somehow benefit from companies responsible for various environmental crimes). Hope they all invest in boats, big ones with enough room for the fam, the pets, and me.
1. Human Stupidity
“Always and inevitably everyone underestimates the number of stupid individuals in circulation.” That’s Professor Carlo M. Cipolla’s first rule in his essay “The Basic Laws of Human Stupidity.” Another great quote about stupidity comes from the classic movie A Christmas Story, “You’ll shoot your eye out, kid”, which he did.
It’s sad but true. We’re vastly outnumbered by stupid people, really stupid people, and some of them are gathering in groups and forming collective opinions. They’re everywhere, at our jobs, in our schools, even in our TVs. But breathe in confidence, since being here on TheRichest, reading this article, you are obviously one of the smart ones and exonerated from any accusations of stupidity. However for everyone else: tsk tsk.
The scary thing is, stupid people don’t think they’re stupid. They can’t because it involves thinking, which they don’t. Look at me for example, I think I’m a f*cking genius but do I have any “fancy brain person” medals nailed to my walls? Big nope there.
What’s even scarier is, I can’t offer a solution of any kind. Most people prefer to bask in their ignorance, only to gaslight anyone who may attempt to correct said ignorance since stupidity begins where the pursuit of knowledge ends. Like when I get called a moron and subsequently banned from flat earth chat rooms.
In the end, we’ll be lucky to find humanity in a scenario somewhere between the films Idiocracy and The Road but we’re more likely to drop nukes on ourselves or all die when that super volcano in Yellowstone that I forgot to mention finally erupts.
So don’t stress out, relax, and rest easy knowing that the fate of the universe is nil and there’s basically nothing to be done about it except for getting triggered and picking fights on Facebook with people you’ll never meet.