The Scariest Science Facts That More People Should Know, According To Reddit

Science gives us all kinds of fun facts. Science also gives us just as many, if not more, downright terrifying facts.

The r/AskReddit thread, "What's a scary science fact that the public knows nothing about?" really delivers if you're the kind of person who wants to learn some hard truths.

Ancient viruses lie in wait.

Unsplash | CDC

"Researchers have found viruses in the Arctic permafrost that have been frozen for thousands of years. One of these viruses, Pithovirus, was dormant for 30,000 years until the researchers revived it and it infected the amoebas that were placed in the tank with it."


Beware of prions.

Unsplash | National Cancer Institute

"There are alternative ways some proteins can form tertiary structures, these different structures make the protein unable to function. These alternate protein structures are infectious and incurable as they are so stable. If you get some in your blood they will slowly convert your own proteins when making contact. They're called prions."


Well, that's just gross.

Unsplash | Scott Rodgerson

"A lot of people in rural towns with an elevated cemetery around (this happens in Ireland a lot)….there is formaldehyde leaking into the drinking water. But it won’t kill you, but the thought of drinking dead people juice is probably equally bad. Sorry not sorry."


We're not great at detecting asteroids.

Unsplash | Bryan Goff

"An asteroid passed the earth in September that was about 40-90m in diameter, and we didn't see it until a day later because it travelled towards us from the direction of the sun. It passed us at half the distance from the earth to the moon."


Brain aneurysms are terrifying.

Unsplash | Hal Gatewood

"Brain aneurysms can be completely unpredictable and can happen at anytime in your life no matter how healthy you are. A kid who I went to high school with at the age of 16 just did not wake up one morning and his cause of death was a brain aneurysm."


Another reason to stop global warming.

Unsplash | Derek Oyen

"Inside the permafrost around the world there is stored about twice the amount of CO2 we currently have in our atmosphere...thats why permafrost must stop melting."


"Don't forget about methane, which is also dangerous and there's a ton of it frozen up."


Antibiotics are losing the war against infections.

Unsplash | Nastya Dulhiier

"Antimicrobial Resistance

"The bacteria are getting resistant to the drugs much faster than the rate at which we are producing new drugs.

"Soon we will reach a scenario when antibiotics cannot treat simple yet lethal infections."


Infertility is more common than you think.


"So many people will struggle with infertility. It's not talked about or really discussed in middle school or high school in health class. When it happens, it's such a shock to the families and they are completely unprepared.

"The numbers are going up as well. Statistical 1/4 pregnancies end in miscarriage. Which is pretty high but again, miscarriage isn't discussed."


We've lost a few nukes.

Unsplash | Johannes Daleng

"The United States has lost and never recovered at least six nuclear devices."


"Thankfully nuclear weapons require a lot of precision engineering to detonate. So after this many years of them lying out in the elements they are unlikely to be able to detonate without major repairs. That does still leave the possibility someone finds it and uses the material in a dirty bomb, but at least there aren't really concerns over a spontaneous nuclear explosion."


Zombies are real, kind of.

Unsplash | Nathan Wright

"Prions are terrifying. They're basically zombies at a protein level, they're misshapen in such a way that causes them to misshape other proteins.

"Normal methods of disinfection don't work. This makes researching them a very tricky matter, as while most cases involve eating infected meat, mishandling prion samples is all it takes."


You might have a brain parasite.

Unsplash | Natasha Connell

"Approximately 60% (in some reports) of the world's population have the parasite toxoplasma gondii in their brain. For a long time it's through to have been a benign presence, but recent statistical research shows that it may have an impact on things like levels of anger and rates of accidents and suicide."


Skin peeling isn't what you think it is.

Unsplash | Tora Chu

"I only recently learned that when you get sunburned, the burn isn’t because of skin cell damage. The UV radiation damages the DNA. Then the skin cells decide to commit suicide and fall off so that the damaged DNA doesn’t produce cancer. I’ll never be mad at my skin peeling again."


PTSD is a physical change.

Unsplash | Michael Longmire

"Trauma can cause structural changes to your brain. PTSD is literally an injury."


"Trained dogs can smell when someone with PTSD is triggered. (The amygdala tells the body to start producing stress hormones and dogs are able to smell the sweating that causes)."


Acetaminophen is a mystery.

Unsplash | Hal Gatewood

"Scientists don't know exactly how Acetaminophen works to relieve pain and reduce fever. They have an idea but nothing for sure. But yet it's the most commonly used pain reliever in the world."


"This is actually true of a large number of medications."


The heart is weaker than you think.

Unsplash | Marek Piwnicki

"Heart muscle cells don’t reproduce much in adults (roughly 1% per year). If you have an infarction or other stressor that kills those cells, then your heart wont be able to “grow” new cells to replace the dead ones.

"This is why patients with diseases like heart failure end up needing a heart transplant. Trying to get this process to happen is a major goal for many cardiac researchers."


Onions are toxic to dogs.

Unsplash | vivek sharma

"All onions (all veggies in the Allium family)are toxic to dogs. Worst can senario then can develop AIHA, Auto immune hemolytic annemia, whereas the body destroys its own red blood cells.

"This disease is about 80% fatal. My dog caught it (we are not sure from where) but is was a primary disease (not a result of a cancer). We think he was eating leeks out of the garden. Took a week in the hospital, 2 blood transfusions, and about 6 months of meds to get him back. He started at 45lbs and was down to 19lbs at the worst part of it."


Chemical warfare is terrifying.

Unsplash | James Adams

"There are weaponized strains of anthrax which can remain viable and dangerous for 40+ years after release. In 1942, the UK tested an anthrax bomb on Gruinard Island, killing a flock of sheep in days (some died in hours.)

"Examination showed that the spores could remain active 'for decades' and decontamination proved impossible at the time. The project was scrapped."


Insects are disappearing.

Unsplash | Luca

"50% of insects have disappeared since 1970. Insect population is down 27% in the last 30 years. Declining between 1 and 4% each year depending on the genus."


"This is a bigger issue than people realize because the bottom of the food chain dying out will cause a chain reaction."


Don't use bleach to clean cat pee.

Pexels | Nothing Ahead

"You should never use bleach to clean cat pee. The combination creates chlorine gas that is very toxic."


"Also don’t mix vinegar with bleach! It can make potentially lethal chlorine gas.

"Edit: When it’s mixed in a poorly ventilated area is when it can be fatal. Still, not a good choice to do at all. One or the other."


Grapefruits mess with prescription medications.

Pexels | Oriana Polito

"Probably the most common one that will affect the general healthy individual is that it can [expletive] with some contraceptive pills. Ain't got no time for no grapefruit baby!

"EDIT: there seems to be a few worried people so just for clarification it's probably not going to actually get you pregnant, it may really ramp up those pesky side effects due to its interactions with estrogen production though so still worth considering!"


Filed Under: