Albert Einstein once said: “The important thing is to not stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing.” So what’s to be done with questions that seem too weird to ask but still come to us at night while we’re trying to fall asleep? That’s right: these are the most interesting ones!
Bright Side prepared serious scientific answers to 10 absurd hypothetical questions that might torment you in the wee hours of the night so that you can stop losing sleep.
1. What would happen if the Earth lost oxygen for 5 seconds?
Everyone exposed to direct sunlight would immediately get sunburns. Oxygen contained in the air constantly protects our skin against UV light. Even the daytime sky would get dark. In the atmosphere when there are fewer particles to scatter blue light, the sky will change its color to be almost black. Everyone’s inner ear would explode. This can be explained by the fact that, in the blink of an eye, the Earth would lose about 21 percent of its air pressure. All buildings made of concrete would turn to dust. Oxygen is an important binder in concrete constructions. Without oxygen they would immediately lose all of their rigidity. Oceans would evaporate. Water is 1/3 oxygen. Without oxygen hydrogen would turn into a gaseous state and expand in volume.
2. What would happen if you opened the door of a plane while it was in flight?
It is surely the worst thing you could experience during a flight. All passengers sitting close to the exit would be ejected into the sky. The temperature onboard the aircraft would quickly plummet, and the plane might begin to break apart. To save your life you would have about 15 to 20 seconds to put on your oxygen mask. And even if you managed to do it, your chances of survival would be still negligible. But don’t be afraid! Fortunately, this situation is totally hypothetical. There is no chance you would be able to open the door (unless you have superhuman strength). Why? The air pressure would stop you from making such a big mistake. At cruising altitude the inside of the plane is at a pressure of about 0.7 or 0.8 atmospheres, which is equivalent to about 5-5.4 kilograms (11-12 pounds) of force per square inch. This is what you would need to overcome! So, in this case the worst thing that could happen to you is getting arrested as soon as the plane lands.
3. What would happen if the moon suddenly disappeared?
Nighttime would be significantly darker. Reflecting the sun’s light the Moon brightens our night sky. Many animals would be confused by the moon’s sudden absence. Researchers state that, for example, owls and lions rely on the darkness of night with just a bit of moonlight to hunt effectively. The moon is very close to us, so the pull of its gravity impacts our planet. With no moon, tides would rise and fall at a much slower rate, and only be about 40% as large as they are now. Due to the loss of gravitational pull the core of our planet might shift a little bit. This could cause any number of natural disasters like earthquakes or volcanoes.
4. What would happen if all of the Earth’s insects vanished?
It’s hard to believe, but without disgusting insects the world would fall apart. And here is why: Approximately 80 percent of all plants in the world are flowering. It means that they require pollination from insects like bees or butterflies. Sometimes the wind and animals unconsciously assist with pollination, but this is not enough and most of work is done by insects. With no “pollinators” most plant life on the planet would disappear. With no insects there is no chance for us to avoid the food chain collapse. If insects disappear, a lot of mammals and birds would disappear too. And if you don’t have insects pollinating, animals eating fruits, leaves, or living in trees would also die out. Thus, step by step, it would lead to the mass extinction of life on our planet.
5. What would happen if the world started spinning twice as fast?
We know what you’re thinking — in this case our day would last 12 hours instead of 24. That’s true! But there are many not so obvious and even surprising effects. The water level at the equator would rise by 100 meters because of the centrifugal force of the Earth pulling water from the poles. Our planet’s surface would change unrecognizably. Indonesia and most of the northern part of South America would be totally wiped out. And Africa would be separated into 2 islands. This high speed of the Earth’s rotation would cause much more severe hurricanes. And they, in turn, would spin at increased speeds too. The amount of water at the equator would cause a huge increase in humidity and a permanent band of fog.
6. What would happen if you didn’t shower for a year?
It’s easy to figure out that this is a really bad idea! But nevertheless let’s imagine what could it result in: After 365 showerless days you would develop a nasty body odor, caused by sweat and bacteria accumulating on you. Skipping your shower could result in dead skin cell buildup. Normally the dead skin is flaked off through normal washing, but when that stops it clumps with the body oils, especially behind the ears, on the neck, and under women’s breasts. Different skin types would react differently to no cleansing for a whole year. But in general, you should expect rashes and itchy irritation. From a lack of exfoliation, the skin gets itchy, and a pink scaly rash can form on the face, scalp, and chest. If you haven’t washed for 52 weeks and you get a cut or scratch on the skin, you’d need to clean that area off as soon as possible. If not, you’d become more prone to infection.
7. What if humans were twice as intelligent?
Being geniuses, we could learn new languages or master new professions in a few weeks, that means that we could try out more things in our lifetime. High IQs would allow us to choose careers and hobbies that interest us the most, not just those we’re mentally capable of. There is a chance, that more people would live longer lives. According to a survey, a person with an IQ of 115 was 21% more likely to be alive at age 76 than a person with an IQ of 100. Although many people blame social problems on human stupidity, removing these factors still doesn’t lead to Utopia. A survey shows that high intelligence doesn’t influence the ability to cooperate. Drug use could significantly increase. A study started in 1958 in USA showed that participants with IQs over 125 were much more likely to consume psychoactive drugs than people with IQs below 75.
8. What would happen if you shot a gun in space?
It sounds really cool! But not literally, as there’s no sound in space. In addition to the absence of any sound in space, there is also no oxygen there, which is necessary to create any kind of fire. However, some guns have their own internal oxidizers now. If you fired a gun in space, the back-blow of the gun (which you can easily stop on the Earth with help of your feet and gravity) would push you backward and you’d find yourself moving in the opposite direction from the bullet. Without the Earth’s gravity, that pulls everything down, bullets would travel farther. In fact, in space your bullet could keep moving forever, until it hit something — like an asteroid. One more thing — in space you could easily shoot yourself. How? Shooting straight ahead on the orbit of a planet. In this case the bullet would stay in orbit, come around the planet and shoot you in the back.
9. What if you ate only one type of food?
The symptoms of deficiencies differ depending on which food you’re eating: For example, you’ve decided to eat only grilled chicken (or any other kind of meat), that contains no carbohydrates, which are the best source of energy for your body. In this case, your body would have to cannibalize your own muscle and fat for fuel. Just bread or pasta would result in organ failure due to amino acid deficiency. Also, with such lack of vitamin C you’d develop scurvy. Eating only one type of vegetable or fruit would affect your health too, as no single vegetable has all 9 essential amino acids needed to build the proteins important for our muscles. The only food enriched with all the nutrients humans need is mother’s milk. Technically, even adults could survive on human milk. However, it would be a real challenge to find a woman ready to provide it.
10. What would happen if you fell into a volcano?
It’s surprising, but this question required more scientific investigation than you might expect. There is no doubt you would die, but how — that is the question! The temperature in a volcano is 4 times hotter than in your kitchen oven at its full capacity. Inside you’d quickly burst into flames and burn to death. However, scientists say that lava’s high density and resistance wouldn’t allow you sink into it and a person would likely smack onto the surface of a lava pit. It’s also believed that there is a possibility of being able to briefly walk on some types of lava, of course, wearing professional heat-protective clothing (do not try this yourself!).
What are your own and personal ’what if’ questions? Do they come to you at night or at some other time? Share them in the comments and we will answer them next time to calm your mind!
Illustrated by Sergey Raskovalov for BrightSide.me