Science Facts That Chilled Us To Our Bones

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Vote up the eeriest science facts that will make you never get a good night's sleep again.

Science is a field that can both inspire and dishearten. The last 100 years of human history have been a stunning display of scientific evolution. The findings that have been made, especially those in connection with the human body, aren't always for the faint of heart and can cause more upset than amazement. Some findings are arguably downright disturbing - like learning that tumors can grow teeth and hair -  but are all part of humanity's search for answers regarding the world around us. Whether it's feeding children radioactive oatmeal or ancient giant scorpions stalking their prey in the open ocean, we never know what science will throw our way. When it comes to scientific study, it may be best to assume nothing and expect anything. 

While science can provide us with answers, sometimes it can leave us with uncomfortable questions. These facts may be super interesting, but they also may unsettle you, finding a permanent home in the recesses of your brain. 

  • 1
    1,902 VOTES

    Naegleria Fowleri Is A 'Brain-Eating Amoeba' With A 97% Fatality Rate And No Known Cure

    Naegleria Fowleri is a dangerous microorganism that lives and breeds in freshwater lakes, rivers, and soil. It can sometimes even be found in swimming pools that are minimally chlorinated or ill-maintained. It's an amoeba (a single-celled microscopic organism) that enters the human body through the nose. From there, the organism travels to the brain, where it destroys brain tissue. 

    Initial symptoms include headache, fever, and nausea. Later symptoms include stiff neck, confusion, hallucinations, loss of balance, and seizures. Perhaps most terrifying of all is that it has a mortality rate of over 97% and death typically occurs within five days. Oddly enough, one can’t be infected by drinking tainted water.

    The good news is that infections are rare - between 2011 and 2020, only 33 people were reportedly infected in the US. The bad news is that infections are most likely to occur in summer months from recreational water sources. Of the 33 infections, 29 occurred in recreational bodies of water, while one other occurred from contaminated tap water on a Slip 'N Slide. In 2021, a child passed from an infection obtained at a splash pad at a Texas park. Reviews of the facility showed a lapse in water testing procedures.

    1,902 votes
  • The Boys at the Fernald School Were Purposefully Fed Radioactive Oatmeal
    Photo: Daderot / Wikimedia Commons / Public domain
    2,599 VOTES

    The Boys at the Fernald School Were Purposefully Fed Radioactive Oatmeal

    The Walter E. Fernald School was marketed as a special school for disabled children. While stories of abuse in institutions for disabled individuals are sadly prevalent throughout history, the Fernald school took things to a disturbing level. 

    Between the 1940s and 1950s - at the height of the atomic age - MIT scientists were interested in conducting experiments concerning human health. They used children that society had discarded as unknowing participants in their experiments. They fed the children Quaker oatmeal laced with radioactive iron and calcium. Some children even had radioactive calcium directly injected into them. 

    In addition to disabled children, the school also housed many orphans or homeless children that the state needed to put somewhere. While many children passed in the school from reasons unrelated to the experiments, many at the school suffered numerous abuses in addition to the Quaker Oats experiment.

    2,599 votes
  • You Could Inadvertently Pick Up A Cone Snail On The Beach And Be Killed
    Photo: Pengchao- BGI / Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY-SA 4.0
    1,965 VOTES

    You Could Inadvertently Pick Up A Cone Snail On The Beach And Be Killed

    Shell collectors beware - the small shiny round shell you pick up on a tropical beach could actually be a deadly stinging cone snail.

    Cone snails are some of the most unexpected - and harsh - predators in nature. They're slow and shy, until they've decided on the creature they'll make their next meal. They usually inject unsuspecting fish with a venom so potent it leaves them rapidly paralyzed, which allows the snail time to slowly eat their prey while it's still alive. They regurgitate the fish's bones before slithering away. 

    Over the years cone snails have been known to take down humans with their venom. One particularly poisonous type, the geography cone snail, has earned the not-so-funny nickname of the "cigarette snail" because it's said the victim would only have enough time to smoke a final cigarette before dying. This isn't exactly accurate - victims would likely have a bit more time than that - but would still be in mortal danger if they are unable to quickly receive medical treatment.

    If stung by a cone snail, numbness will begin at the sting site before spreading through the body to the diaphragm, which prevents breathing.

    1,965 votes
  • 4
    1,565 VOTES

    The US Has Lost Six Nuclear Weapons

    Considering nuclear weapons are one of the most destructive creations humanity has ever built, you'd think we'd keep pretty good track of them. But it turns out that, much like your car keys or a pair of sunglasses, some of these weapons are lost.

    Since the successful creation of the nuclear bomb in the 1940s, there have been six bombs, that we know of, that have gone missing. Missing nuclear bombs can be attributed to mechanical failure aboard aircraft and submarines, as well as human error. Most of them were carried aboard aircraft or naval ships, and when things went wrong, decisions had to be made - like jettisoning the devices into a water mass below. 

    Five out of the six lost weapons went missing in water in different seas and oceans around the world. The only one of the six that was lost on land is presumed to be buried in a field near Goldsboro, NC. It ended up there after the aircraft it was on crashed, and despite various missions to retrieve it, part of the device was not found.

    1,565 votes
  • 5
    1,150 VOTES

    Capable Decision-Makers Will Make Poor Decisions If They Conform To Groupthink

    When in a group setting, many people have experienced the feeling of wanting to speak up but opting not to so as to not go against the group. By speaking out, a person can make themselves a target or be seen as problematic. If you've experienced this, you're not alone. By not speaking out a person is conforming to groupthink. 

    According to Irving L. Janis, the man who coined the term, groupthink occurs when the following are in place: a strong, persuasive group leader, high levels of group cohesion, and intense pressure to make a good decision. Peer pressure is a symptom of groupthink and it can happen to anyone. From children in elementary school to politicians, everyone is susceptible to the phenomenon. 

    Of course, the psychological phenomenon becomes dangerous when world leaders and people in important positions fall prey to it. One of the most notorious incidents that can be linked to groupthink is the Challenger Space Shuttle tragedy. Months before takeoff, certain employees knew of faulty parts, but, not wanting to go against the organization, and for fear of bad press, they stayed silent. 

    1,150 votes
  • 6
    887 VOTES

    Humans Can Die Of Insomnia

    Insomnia can be a debilitating disease for many - not only does it often cause anxiety-filled nights and long, exhausting days, but it can also actually be really dangerous. Insomnia can cause car accidents, low performance at work or school,  and physical and mental health issues. Lack of sleep is so detrimental to human health that it's been used a form of torture. Many adults will have a bout of acute insomnia at some point in their lives, but it’s usually something that can be addressed and overcome in a few weeks. A select few, however, won't be that lucky. They'll have to deal with a type of insomnia that won't go away and could prove fatal. 

    Fatal familial insomnia is a rare genetic degenerative brain disorder that usually begins with mild insomnia symptoms that advance to the point where a person isn’t getting any sleep at all. The lack of sleep creates intense mental and physical distress that can range from hallucinations to heart problems. The disorder eventually leads to coma and death. It's reported that the onset of symptoms begins around the ages of 45-50 but can occur earlier or later in life.

    There is no cure for fatal insomnia, and treatment differs from person to person. Though it’s thankfully rare, that fact is a double-edged sword, as there's a lack of awareness and drive for a cure.

    887 votes