10 Crazy “What If” Scenarios (Part 3)

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Have you ever thought about what the world would be like if it was a cube? What would happen if you chose to live in the water? Or what if every nuclear bomb in the world went off? These are just a few of the crazy scenarios in our latest installment of 10 Crazy ‘What If’ Scenarios…

10. What Would Happen if all the Mosquitoes Died out?

In many cases, losing a species is a bad thing for an ecosystem because ecosystems are structured like pyramids. If you take out a species on the low end of the food chain, like frogs, then everything that frogs eat will have their population explode, whereas animals that eat frogs will die off because there isn’t enough food to sustain their population.

What would happen if we decided to kill off all the mosquitoes? Mosquitoes are not only annoying pests, but they are disease carriers. To name just a few of the more serious diseases they transmit, we’ve got malaria, West Nile virus, elephantiasis, dengue fever, and yellow fever. On the other hand, they are part of the food chain. Their larvae is eaten by frogs and fish.

So would it be that bad if we killed all of them off? Kateryn Rochon, an entomologist at the University of Manitoba says not a whole lot would change. In the long run, the ecosystems will bounce back because no animals or insects are mosquito dependent.

Awesome! Yeah, we’re on board with this one. Let’s do it. Let’s wipe those buzzing jerks out!

9. What Would Happen if You Lived in Water

Life on land has become too much for you, and you think, ‘Screw it. I’m going to live in a giant tank of water.’ Would this be a viable way to live? According to the website Digg, which interviewed a dermatologist, you would notice problems within a day or two.

Between the top layer of skin, which is called the epidermis, and the middle layer of skin, which is the dermis, bubbles will form. These bubbles will burst and then your skin will peel away. This is what happened to David Blaine when he spent seven days in a water tank.

When your skin peels, it will expose the dermis, which isn’t meant to be exposed and it definitely shouldn’t be exposed to the water you’ve been living and defecating in. You’ll probably develop an infection and unless you get help, you’ll die.

8. What Would Happen if the Yellowstone Supervolcano Exploded?

In the Wyoming section of Yellowstone Park there is a supervolcano. The last time it erupted was 174,000 years ago. What would happen if it erupted again?

Of course, lava would ooze out, but that wouldn’t be the biggest concern for people unless you happen to be in the immediate area, because the lava probably wouldn’t spread farther than the park. Instead, ash will be scattered over 500 miles and it will be four inches thick when it settles on nearby land.

The American Midwest and Pacific Northwest would be hardest hit. Agriculture in the area would be devastated and rivers would be clogged with gray muck.

Gases like sulfur dioxide will also be spewed into the air. Not only will this smell awful, but the gas and the ash will block sunlight from getting to Earth, which will cool that part of the planet. This cooling could last for 10 years, and it would alter the weather. The altered weather would lead to less crop production, meaning there will be famines.

In this ‘what if’ scenario, there are two pieces of good news. The first is that this is very unlikely to happen any time soon. The second is that it won’t be the deathblow for humans. Our ancestors experienced supervolcano eruptions and they survived, so there is no reason to believe humanity wouldn’t survive this one.

7. What Would Happen if You Exploded a Nuclear Bomb in the Deepest Part of the Ocean?

If you detonate a nuclear bomb near the surface of the water, it’s quite an impressive show because thousands of gallons of water shoot up into the air. But what happens when a nuclear bomb is exploded six miles under water?

In their “What If” series, webcomic xkcd answers the question of what would happen if someone exploded a large bomb in the Mariana Trench. The Mariana Trench is found in the western Pacific Ocean and is the deepest part of the ocean. The deepest known measurement is 36,070 feet.

The explosion in the deepest part of the ocean would be nothing like if you denoted it near the surface. Instead, it will create a bubble that is about 0.6 miles across, and then the pressure will cause it to collapse to it’s minimal size. Then it will expand again. It will do this three or four more times.

After that, the only thing left will be warm water and debris. And, presumably, a lot of annoyed fish who suddenly find themselves with superpowers.

6. What if the World Was a Cube?

All large masses in the universe are spheres, and this includes Earth. But what would Earth be like if it was a cube?

All the water and the atmosphere will be drawn to where the gravity is strongest and that will be the center of each face of the cube. In the center of each face, there will be a large ocean. There is also a good chance that each face could have very different ecosystems. The edges and the corners of the Earth would be rocky with very little atmosphere.

However, this cube world wouldn’t last very long. Eventually it would start to round out until it was a sphere, just like the rest of the massive objects in the universe.

5. What if the World was Flat?

No matter what rapper B.o.B. says, the world is not flat. But what if he was right, and the Earth is actually pancake-shaped? Gizmodo asked a few experts and the news isn’t good for B.o.B. and the Flat World Society.

Gravity would be an immediate problem. At the center of the flat Earth, gravity would be less than it is now and it would be weaker around the edges of the flat Earth. Without gravity, we wouldn’t have an atmosphere, so life on Earth wouldn’t be possible. We also wouldn’t have a magnetic field and cosmic rays would prevent any life from forming.

However, if we somehow managed to live on a flat Earth, everyone would see the same stars at the same time and we wouldn’t be able to see the curvature of the earth.

4. What Would Happen if the Earth Stopped Spinning?

Currently, the earth spins at 1,000 miles per hour, but what would happen if it stopped spinning?

There are two possible ways that this could happen. The first is that it stops spinning immediately. If that happened, everything that isn’t bedrock would fly off the earth and out into the atmosphere, which would be one wild ride.

The other way is a gradual slow down. If the Earth stopped spinning over billions of years, we wouldn’t be thrown off the planet. The Earth would be a much different place, though. Days and nights would be six months long, meaning a day would be as long as a year.

The Earth’s spin creates a centrifugal force at the equator and this creates a bulge. This bulge keeps all the oceans where they are. If the Earth stops spinning, all the oceans would go to the top and the bottom of the Earth, leaving a belt of land around the planet.

Humans may be able to survive for a short time on thin strips of the Earth, but without the world rotating, the electric field that protects us from cosmic rays would fade. This would cause Earth’s atmosphere to be ripped away by the sun’s natural wind and without atmosphere, we wouldn’t survive for very long.

3. What Would Happen if the Moon Exploded?

On the dark side of the moon, an advanced alien race drills deep into the moon and implants a mindbogglingly powerful explosive. They take off, and when they are a safe distance away, they detonate the explosive and the moon explodes into several large pieces and millions of smaller pieces.

What would happen to us here on Earth? And why are those aliens such jerks?

We can’t answer that second question, but we can take a stab at the first. If you’re one of the 17 people who saw the 2002 version of The Time Machine, you know it’s not good. First, the pieces would break up and form a torus, which is a donut-like ring, around the Earth. This would make it very difficult for us to leave the Earth, which is bad news because we’re going to want to leave if we want to survive.

First, the small flaming pieces will rain down on the Earth for the next 5,000 to 10,000 years. It will eventually get so hot that the oceans will evaporate. So it’s a slightly bigger disaster than The Time Machine. (Yes, we really hated that movie. Come on, Guy Pearce. You’re better than that.)

The good news is that it’s nearly impossible to blow up the moon. We just have to hope that no rogue planets smash into it.

2. What Would Happen if Every Nuclear Device Exploded?

Unfortunately, in the summer and fall of 2017, a legitimate fear for some people is the outbreak of nuclear war.

One question that inevitably arises when thinking about nuclear war is what would happen if all the nuclear weapons in the world went off? IFLScience took a look at this question and – surprise, surprise – things aren’t good.

According to the Federation of American Scientists, there are about 14,900 nuclear weapons in the world. A vast majority of them are in the possession of Russia and the United States. Also, there are varying levels of power when it comes to nuclear weapons. Russia and the United States have thermonuclear weapons, while a country like North Korea has fission-style.

One of the most powerful American nuclear weapons is B83. It’s as powerful as 79 “Little Boy” atomic bombs – that’s the one that was dropped on Hiroshima. One bomb would cause a fireball that is 2.2 square miles. All buildings within 6.5 square miles will be flattened. It will burn everyone within 162 square miles to the point where their nerve endings will burn off. 50 to 90 percent of people within 8 square miles will die from radiation sickness.

IFLScience says that if the average device possessed by Russia and the United States is similar to a B83 and they were spread out evenly and hit land, it would be devastating. It will turn 90,000 square miles, which is about the size of 295 New York Cities, to dust. A fireball will also form and it will grow to the size of 31,000 square miles. That is about the size of 3,700 Londons. Everyone who is in that area will be vaporized.

Then there is the fallout. It will be spread out over 110,000 square miles. If the wind is blowing and if it gets into the lower atmosphere, it could spread even farther.

For those people who weren’t wiped out in the nuclear blasts, or survives the fire ball, or doesn’t die from radiation sickness, they’ll have to deal with nuclear winter. All the destruction on Earth would send up ash, dust, and soot into the air. This would stop solar radiation from reaching Earth for years, possibly even centuries. During this time, the Earth will be dark and without sunlight, and plant life will die off. Most animals, including humans, will die off a short time later.

Hopefully if all the nuclear bombs do go off, you just get vaporized. You’ll only feel a second of pain and then nothing. Of course, you’ll also miss your chance to be a real-life Sole Survivor.

1. What Would Happen if Earth Lost Oxygen for Five Seconds

Clearly, oxygen is pretty important to life here on Earth. But do you know exactly how important it is? For example, what happened if we lost all the oxygen in the world for five seconds? You’re probably thinking, “Not too much.” After all, you can probably hold your breath for five seconds, so it’s not like you’ll suffocate.

But it’s actually much worse than that. Buzzfeed took a short break from telling you which Friends character you should eat a taco salad with to explain that if oxygen went away during the day, the sky would turn dark because sunlight reflects off oxygen particles.

Untreated metal would also instantly weld together because a layer of oxidation is what keeps metals from doing exactly that.

However, we probably wouldn’t have time to notice the metal welding together or the sky turning dark because we’d have much bigger problems. Notably, the Earth’s crust is 45 percent oxygen. Without oxygen, it would crumble. Buildings would also be turned to dust, because, you guessed it: oxygen is an important element in concrete.

As for humans, you’d immediately get a sunburn, because oxygen molecules help protect us from UV light. Everyone’s ear drums would blow out, because we’d lose too much air pressure. But, we probably wouldn’t notice because the human body is up to 60 percent water. A major component of water is oxygen. Without oxygen, every living cell would simply be hydrogen gas.

Finally, the oceans would evaporate and all the hydrogen, which was once you and every living cell on Earth, would float into the sky. So, basically… it would suck even more than The Time Machine.


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