Weird History
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15 Times The World Was Almost Completely Destroyed

Updated June 14, 2019 944.3k views15 items

These 15 times the world almost ended will shock you to the core, even though they, thankfully, left the Earth's core intact. Armageddon was almost a real-life event both in the olden days of yore and in the 21st century. These near apocalypses – whether due to mechanical failures, miscommunications, natural disasters, or brushes with cosmic and nuclear events – almost ruined everyone's day at some point in the history of the Earth.

When the Mayan calendar supposedly indicated that the apocalypse was headed for us in 2012, they weren't that far off. As it turns out, a solar superstorm in the summer of 2012 narrowly missed blasting planet Earth. That's just one of the many times humanity and all of Earth's creatures have escaped extinction by the metaphorical skin of their teeth.

In fact, our planet was familiar with "the end is near" concerns or real apocalypses well before Y2K hysteria. The Black Plague possibly killed as many as 200 million human beings, and you don't even want to hear the numbers when it comes to the Spanish Flu pandemic of the early 1900s. From comets, to volcanoes, to accidentally announcing nuclear war and setting off rockets, these are the times that the End of Days was almost just around the corner.

  • Cuban Missile Crises

    Photo: Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain
    The closest we ever came to completely annihilating human existence came during a combination of missteps in 1962. On October 25, an American air base guard activated the wrong alarm, which signaled WWIII from Wisconsin. The next day, America accidentally launched two missile tests in Russia because they had been scheduled before the Crisis began.
  • 2012 Solar Storm

    In the summer of 2012, a massive cloud of hot plasma erupted from the sun and went through our planet's orbit. Had it happened a single week earlier, Earth would have had GPS errors, radio blackouts, and fried satellites. In fact, resulting power blackouts would have been so bad that most of us would have had trouble flushing the toilet.
  • 1961 Faded Giant

    Idaho Falls almost blew itself up when an SL-1 reactor went off and caused a nuclear disaster. Emergency officials could not go into the control room because of absurdly high radiation levels. When they did, they found three victims, one of whom was pinned to the ceiling and impaled by a control rod due to the explosion.
  • 1950 Broken Arrow

    Photo: Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain
    "Broken Arrow" is a code name for a nuclear incident, which is exactly what happened in August of 1950. During the Korean War, a B-29 headed for Guam crashed at a California Air Base. The result? 5,000 pounds of explosives were detonated, 19 people died, and if the bomb had been armed with its fissile capsule, which thankfully it wasn't, potentially 100,000 people could have been killed