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“What If?” 11 Serious Answers to Slightly Crazy Science Questions

What if the dinosaurs had survived—or all viruses suddenly disappeared? What if the planet was made of blueberries, or gravity stopped working?

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What if there were no stupid questions? (There aren’t.) Turns out you can learn a lot about science by trying to find earnest answers to wildly hypothetical, vaguely absurd scenarios. Even the most outlandish thought experiments can provide insight into how the world works. So let your imagination run wild with this curated collection exploring eleven out-there scientific “What Ifs?”


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What Would Happen if Earth Started to Spin Faster?

Sarah FechtPopular Science

Even a 1 mph speed boost would make things pretty weird.

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What if All Viruses Disappeared?

Rachel NuwerBBC

If all viruses disappeared, the world would be very different — and not necessarily for the better. But what exactly would happen?

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What If the Asteroid Never Killed the Dinosaurs?

Daniel KolitzGizmodo

To find out, Gizmodo reached out to a number of geologists, paleontologists, and evolutionary biologists.

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What If Everyone On Earth Jumped at Once?

Natalie WolchoverLive Science

There are roughly 7 billion people on Earth, with a total weight of approximately 800 billion pounds (363 billion kg). What if we all jumped at once?

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What if We Could Live for a Million Years?

Avi LoebScientific American

Vastly extended life spans would bring dazzling opportunities—and daunting risks.

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What Would Happen If the Earth Spun Backward?

Rebecca J. RosenThe Atlantic

The planet’s spin is not to be messed with if you like life on Earth pretty much the way it is.

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Earth Without People

Alan WeismanDiscover Magazine

What would happen to our planet if the mighty hand of humanity simply disappeared?

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What Would Happen to You if Gravity Stopped Working?

Colin BarrasBBC

If the force of gravity just got switched off one day, floating off into space would be the least of your worries.

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Watch What Would Happen If We Nuked the Moon?

Kyle MizokamiPopular Mechanics

Yes, the Air Force actually once wanted to do this.

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What Would Happen if All Matter on the Earth Was Replaced by Blueberries?

Dan KoisSlate

A Q&A with the one scientist brave enough to figure it out.

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If the World Began Again, Would Life as We Know It Exist?

Zach ZorichNautilus

Experiments in evolution are exploring what would happen if we rewound the tape of life.

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Handy words from other languages with no English equivalent.

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Surprising Stories of Accidental Inventions


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