10) Starfish Prime
9th July 1962 Starfish Prime was the largest man-made nuclear explosion in outer space. It was designed to test the effects of the blast in high altitudes. The experiment was conducted at the height of the Cold War by the United States, and the bomb was detonated 400 km above the Pacific Ocean. The blast yielded 1.4 megatons – one hundred times greater than the Hiroshima bomb. This blast was far bigger than expected, and scientists feared that the explosion would permanently alter the Earth’s geomagnetic field. This could have catastrophically weakened the planet’s protection from cosmic rays, potentially exposing the planet to dangerous levels of radiation. This in turn would have destroyed animal and plant life, and posed an increased risk of cancer for humans. In the end, the high-energy electrons created a brief, but extremely powerful, magnetic field, which crippled one third of all satellites in low Earth orbit at the time. The Soviet Union was so fearful of America’s experiments that they proposed an end to high altitude detonations. This led to the Outer Space Treaty of 1967, which stopped either nation from ever detonating nuclear weapons in space again.
9) Bacteria Superbug –
Scientist Ananda Mohan Chakraborty [chak-ra-bar-tee] genetically engineered a new species of bacteria capable of breaking down crude oil. He hoped it could be used to clean up major oil spills. His tests proved that the bacteria were highly effective at breaking down oil, and actually less toxic than some of the methods currently used to clean spills. However, this superbug has never been used outside of a laboratory. The bacterium, Pseudomonas [soo-do-moan-ass], on which the superbug was based, is found in soil across the world. Fears remain that it could become uncontrollable once released.Indeed, the new species of bacteria that Chakraborty had created could eat oil up to 100 timesfaster than naturally occurring bacteria.
8) The Large Hadron Collider
– 2009 to present In perhaps the biggest physics experiment ever, the Large Hadron Collider re-created the conditions just after the big bang, by producing 300 trillion high-speed particle collisions. Searching for answers to the fundamental questions of the universe, the experiment has already discovered the Higgs boson. This is also known as the God particle, which is thought to give mass to other particles. The experiment also achieved the hottest ever man-made temperature of 4 trillion degrees Celsius – 250,000 times hotter than the sun. These big experiments come with a big risk, though. Scientists have raised concerns that the high-speed particle collisions have the potential to create a black hole, which could swallow the Earth from within. Another fear is that the experiments will create strange matter. This hypothetical form of matter could trigger a chain reaction and convert everything else on Earth into strange matter – destroying the planet.
7) The Kola Super deep Borehole
– 1970 to 1992
The Kola Superdeep Borehole is the result of an experiment the Soviets conducted, in an attempt to reach the center of the Earth. Despite their best efforts, the hole only reached 12km – less than 0.2% of the way to the Earth’s core. While the USSR might not have got very close to the center of the planet, their large scale drilling into the Earth’s crust caused fears that they might unleash unforeseen seismic forces. These could have had the potential to trigger Earthquakes or volcanic eruptions across the planet. Thankfully, no such incidents occurred during its operation. The drilling was stopped in1992 as temperatures beneath the ground exceeded a scorching 300 degrees Celsius.
6) Rice Blast
During the Cold War, America experimented with weaponing the fungus Magnaporthe Grisea [magna-poor-thay grizz-eya]. This would have had the power to destroy the world’s two most vital crops, rice and wheat – on which more than 40% of the world’s population rely. Causing a disease called rice blast, this fungus kills enough rice naturally each year to feed 60 million people. An outbreak of the disease helped to cause the 1942 Bengal famine that led to over 2 million deaths. Just one lesion of the fungus on a single plant can generate thousands of spores in one night. This causes rapid crop failure and could potentially create a famine for3 billion people if ever released on a worldwide scale. It is impossible to remove the disease once introduced to a rice-growing region. The US is thought to have carried out 31 anti-crop weapon trials between 1951 and 1969, but their stockpiles of the disease were reportedly destroyed in 1973.
5) Project Mercury and Project Volcano
– 1987 to 1992
Between 1987 and 1992 the Soviet military is thought to have experimented with using the Earth’s tectonic plates as weapons, by detonating three nuclear weapons in the Earth’s crust. This interference with the Earth’s plates could have potentially created a devastating chain of earthquakes and volcanoes, causing huge structural damage, leading to thousands or even millions of deaths. The late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez claimed that the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, which killed 160,000 people, was the consequence of the United States experimenting with similar tectonic weapons.
– Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence On August 15th 1977 a scientist was working for SETI at the Big Ear radio telescope at Ohio State University. Suddenly they detected a strong radio signal that matched the expected signature of an extraterrestrial intelligent life-form. The so-called Wow! Signal is perhaps the best indication of alien life we’ve had so far. And since that day, astronomers have since been trying in vain to communicate with aliens. Scientists are now not only listening to, but also broadcasting signals into other solar systems, in the hope of establishing contact with intelligent extraterrestrials. But according to Professor Stephen Hawking, an alien invasion could be the end of humanity, as other life forms might look to conquer and colonize whatever planets they can reach. Hawking compared a hypothetical alien invasion to Columbus discovery of America, which led to the genocide of 90% of the indigenous people over just 500 years.
3) Weaponizing the Plague
During the Cold War, the Soviet Union developed biological weapons, including a strain of the plague that was resistant to antibiotics. Once released in public, the disease could have spread rapidly, claiming the lives of its victims in just a matter of days. At the time, Vladimir Pasechnik [pa-setch-nick] was the program director at the Soviet Institute of Ultra-Pure Biological Preparations. However, he defected and revealed that the Soviet Union was also experimenting with weaponized forms of anthrax, Ebola and smallpox. The devastating potential of the plague was seen during the 14th century, when the disease killed over 50 million people in Europe alone. 60 percent of Europe’s entire population was decimated in just 7 years. If the plague was weaponized and 60% of the Europe died today, that would mean almost 500 million deaths.
2) Trinity Nuclear Test
16th July 1945
The Trinity Nuclear Test was the first detonation of a nuclear weapon. Until this point, the atomic bomb had been purely theoretical, and scientists were unsure if it would work at all. However, Nobel Prize winner Enrico Fermi, and the father of the hydrogen bomb Edward Teller, feared it might work too well. And both were working on the project. They hypothesized that the explosion could lead to a self-sustaining fusion reaction of nitrogen nuclei, essentially setting the entire Earth’s atmosphere ablaze. Despite their concerns, the experiment was successfully conducted at a US Air Force baseat Alamogordo, New Mexico.
1) The Dark Matter Hypothesis
Scientists observing dark matter in the 1990s might have accidentally brought about the end of the universe already.84.5% of the universe is made up of dark energy and dark matter, the unknown forces that permeates pace and accelerate the expansion of the universe. The Quantum Zeno Effect is a rule in quantum mechanics. It suggests that when particles are observed, this changes the state of their internal quantum clock, causing them to decay. Professor Lawrence Krauss has argued that this law can be applied to the universe’s dark energy, and that by just observing it, scientists may have caused dark matter to begin to decay. This would ultimately lead to the collapse of the universe.