Scientists Are Sharing "Scary" Science Facts That The Public Knows Nothing About

Siberia from above. Anthrax may emerge when the permafrost thaws. Image credit: Olivier Uchmanski/Shutterstock.com, Reddit/LukasXB78

People on Reddit have been sharing "scary" science facts they believe the public knows nothing about in a thread inviting scientists to reveal all. We'll be honest, a lot of these you'd probably rather not know. So back out now if you'd like to spare yourself some trauma, and everyone else read on as we compile some of our "favorites". Some are self-explanatory; we'll jump in if we have anything to add.

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Yep, good old anthrax can indeed remain buried for many years, only to be revived and infect others. In 2016, an outbreak of anthrax in Siberia that killed at least 1,500 reindeer, hospitalized four humans, and potentially killed a 12-year-old was caused when an infected 75-year-old reindeer corpse thawed out.

As the climate crisis continues, this could happen more often.

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Prion diseases are legitimately terrifying. Perhaps the worst is Fatal Familiar Insomnia. It's more complicated (see here) but essentially, the inherited disease strikes when you are around 50. You lose sleep, and lose sleep, and lose sleep 

"Typically, one day in middle age, the sufferer finds that he [or she] has begun to sweatA look in the mirror will show that his pupils have shrunk to pinpricks and he is holding his head in an odd, stiff way," journalist DT Max describes in his 2006 book The Family That Couldn’t Sleep. "Constipation is common, the women suddenly enter menopause and the men become impotent. The sufferer begins to have trouble sleeping and tries compensating with a nap in the afternoon, but to no avail. His blood pressure and pulse have become elevated and his body is in overdrive. Over the ensuing months, he tries desperately to sleep, sometimes closing his eyes but never succeeding in falling into more than a light stupor."

Within 18 months of onset, people who get the disease are dead.

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True, but the situation is actually far worse than that.

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Particularly grim, right up until 1985 very few were aware of how many procedures were taking place on premature babies without providing pain relief. Newborns still go under painful procedures without pain relief today.

If you would like to scare yourself further about anesthetics, we highly recommend you check out the forgotten practice of Twilight Sleep.

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This is true, according to a 2020 study. However, we can't decide if this one is scary or comforting.

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Bad news, the "pirate disease" is making a comeback in the US.

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Yep, dying of jumping into a pool of lava is so much worse than it's portrayed in the movies.

"Upon hopping in for your deadly bath, you’ll get stuck at the surface as the lava begins to give you full thickness burns," former IFLScience staff writer Dr Robin Andrews wrote in 2017.

"This injury is the type that not only destroys the upper layer of your skin (epidermis), but quickly destroys your nerve endings and severs your blood vessels within your underlying dermis. Your subcutaneous fat will also boil off, so in effect, you’ll be seared like a beef steak."

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We're starting to know how it works, many years after we've used it.

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In 2019, part of a Russian lab that stores smallpox exploded. Sleep soundly.

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And finally.

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What's more, we need to let future humans know what we have buried is dangerous. The ideas we have so far are pretty whacky, and have led to the suggestion of the atomic priesthood, which is just as Fallout as it sounds.


 This Week in IFLScience

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