4. A particle the size of a helium atom could end life as we know it at any second
“A strangelet is a hypothetical particle that is composed of up, down, and strange quarks. (For comparison, a proton is composed of two up quarks and a down quark, and a neutron is composed of an up quark and two down quarks.) Some physicists have theorized that strange matter – matter which is made up of strangelets – might actually be what composes dark matter. If that’s true, then 85% of the matter in the universe could be strange matter.
On its own, the theory just sounds mildly interesting.
In fact, it’s utterly terrifying in its implications.
See, due to the way that subatomic particles interact, large collections of strange matter are thought to be more stable than smaller ones. The bigger a given strange mass is, the hardier it is, so to speak. As such, all it would take to completely doom the planet is a strangelet the size of a helium atom… because when baryonic matter – atoms made up of protons and neutrons – comes into contact with strange matter, it gets converted into strange matter. The chain reaction would reduce the Earth to a huge, hot, homogeneous “strange star,” and there would be absolutely nothing we could do about it.
It gets worse, though.
Remember how I mentioned some physicists theorize that strange matter makes up dark matter?
Well, have you heard of The Great Attractor?
This is a region of space that seems to contain an unfathomably large mass, which is pulling all of the galaxies around us – including our own – toward it. We have very little idea what it actually is, but we can see its effects. There are numerous theories on the anomaly, with some being a little bit more reasonable than others. (Don’t say “Cthulhu.”) One idea that’s popular with laymen, however, is that The Great Attractor is composed entirely of dark matter… or as we discussed earlier, strange matter.
In other words, it might only be a matter of time before the entire universe is converted.
Wouldn’t that be strange?” — RamsesThePigeon