For every fun fact inscribed on a Snapple lid there's a not-so-fun fact they wouldn't even think of showing on Jeopardy. Unlike Snapple, certain facts don't go down all that easily, especially when they complicate activities we cherish. As a result, they get pushed to the back of human subconsciousness, only to resurface in your worst fears or because the Internet happened to learn something new that day.
Collected here are facts that fall into the latter category, the Internet's ravenous desire for information. Thanks to Reddit, you may now learn of the deadly microscopic creatures poised to kill you from the inside out and why wheat crops could go the same way as the Irish Potato Famine. Knowledge is definitely power, but it's also a good case for paranoia.
From user PaddyO666:
"A terrifying number of bridges in the United States are listed as 'fracture critical' meaning that if a single structural, weight bearing component fails, like a bolt breaking somewhere in the structure, significant portions of the structure, or the entire structure will collapse."
"There is a remote chance that the water bear [tardigrade] is actually an alien species not native to planet Earth. It occupies its own phylum, having no known closely related species and only speculatively related species in the fossil record. It is also the most resilient animal known. It is known to be able to survive:
Pressure of 6,000 atmospheres, equivalent to six times the pressure found at the deepest point in the ocean;
The vacuum of space;
Temperatures as cold as one degree above absolute zero and temperatures hot enough to exceed the boiling point of water;
Radiation a hundred times higher than the lethal dose for a human;
Without water for a hundred years or more, being able to enter a dehydrated dormant state when water is scarce. When water is encountered again, it can re-hydrate and continue on like nothing happened.
Is it actually an alien species? Probably not, but it has been demonstrated to be able to survive many of the trickier parts of deep space voyages!"
From user doofusmonkey:
"The US military has enough chemical weapons to kill everyone in the world a couple times over. Most of them are in one bunker."
From an anonymous Redditor:
"Ug99 could easily kill billions of people... billions.
It is a strain of wheat stem rust. The reason why those words don't already send a chill up your spine is that our modern hybrid wheat has a genetic immunity to stem rust bred into it. Ug99 is not bothered by that resistance and can easily infect the vast majority of wheat that is grown across the world. Stem rust is a fungus and the spores spread rapidly and can result in loss of 100% of the wheat being grown in the field that it hits.
100%... all of it. It was first found in Uganda in in 1999 (thus the Ug99 designation). Since then it has spread to Kenya, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Sudan, Yemen, Iran, Uganda, Tanzania, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, and South Africa. It is also mutating. There are now eight strains and counting.
There are resistant strains of wheat but the vast majority of wheat currently planted are not resistant to Ug99.
The wheat currently plated in the vast wheat fields in the world's breadbaskets in the US, Europe, India, Asia and elsewhere are vulnerable. If it were to spread northward into India, China, and Europe the effect would be nightmarish. A total failure of the wheat crops in the area. It is already in Iran. It wouldn't take much for it to spread into Europe, india, Russia, or China.
Again, there are resistant cultivars but they aren't widely planted and if this hits the densely planted wheat-producing areas it would spread fast. A lot of people would die from starvation before one even factors in the civil unrest as food prices skyrocket out of the reach of most of the globe.
In the past, small farms and heirloom seeds provided for genetic diversity which provides some protection from a total crop failure in a region. Now, most wheat (and other crops) are exactly the same as all other crops in the region so if something like Ug99 or whatever it turns into next affects one stalk it can affect every plant nationwide.
It would (or will) be a deadly plague of global proportions. It wouldn't affect humans directly but the effect would be the same. It would make the black death look like the common cold."