‘Tis the season of the witch, but the reporters at Purch’s Live Science aren’t scared of a few old ladies on brooms. However, this savvy group is definitely terrified of a few things, like drug-resistant bacteria and — you guessed it — spiders.
Read more about our science journalists’ biggest real-world fears and then come say boo on Twitter. We’d love to hear all about the science-y stuff that keeps you up at night!
Superbugs, spiders and asteroids, oh my!
“Essentially, we’ve shown our cards to these superbugs, which aren’t true bugs (or even insects). As humans take more and more antibiotics meant to kill these “bugs” (aka bacteria), the pesky bacteria have built up defenses until they can survive and thrive an antibiotic attack. Every year in the U.S., at least 2 million people get infected with antibiotic-resistant bacteria; of those, at least 23,000 people die from these infections every year, the CDC says.
Spiders, well that’s purely emotional. The sight of spiders — from the teensy garden variety to the furry puppy-sized Goliath bird-eaters (yes, they’re real) — sends me leaping for cover.
And asteroids — I mean a huge rock smashed into Earth 66 million years ago to wipe out the dinosaurs, so couldn’t it happen again? There are more than 100 impact craters on our planet, according to NASA. But while “death by space rock” may sound like a cool way to go, nobody has been killed by such a cosmic shard in the last 1,000 years.” — Jeanna Bryner, Managing Editor
“As a health reporter, I have a pretty high tolerance for gross and gory photos — things like parasites in eyeballs and mid-surgery snapshots don’t really bother me. But if I see a spider, I’ll be across the room with my feet up on a chair in seconds. I’ve been afraid of them for as long as I can remember. Unfortunately, my coworkers love reporting on spider-related news, and showing me the pictures, so this is an occupational hazard.” — Sara Miller, Staff Writer
“What wakes me up at night is the thought of drug-resistant superbugs. We’ve come to depend so utterly on antibiotics to fight off infection, but overuse — in medicine and in raising the animals we eat — went and kicked the evolutionary arms race with bacteria into overdrive. Now, we have deadly microbes that can resist our routinely-used antibiotics AND our last-chance antibiotics — and we can’t develop new ones quickly enough to keep up.” — Mindy Weisberger, Senior Writer
“The headlines about North Korea’s nuclear capabilities are putting me on edge. In early September, the countries’ leaders claimed to have tested a hydrogen bomb that can be loaded onto an intercontinental ballistic missile. In response, the United Nations put strong sanctions on North Korea, which in turn spurred the country to say that these sanctions would only accelerate its nuclear ambitions.
It’s anyone’s guess what North Korea will do, but at least science can help us! Live Science has covered what might happen during a nuclear attack and also whether the U.S. could stop such a weapon. My favorite tidbit is this: don’t condition your hair or apply skin lotion after a nuclear attack. These gloopy products make it easier for nuclear fallout (radioactive dust) to stick to your person. Instead, if you can grab a shower, just shampoo and go on your way!” — Laura Geggel, Senior Writer
Want to share your biggest real-world fear on the Purch blog? (That’s brave!) Send your nightmares to Elizabeth Peterson on the corporate marketing team.