The reason why we’re told to drink so much water is because our body desperately needs it. As we’re over 60% water, this keeps our blood flowing, your skin soft and unbroken and when we urinate, we flush out all of the toxins. As you become more dehydrated, the cells in your body begin to shrink as the body draws water from them to keep your blood flowing. This, unfortunately, includes your brain cells, so when they shrink, it’s bad news.
When your brain is fucked up, you get confused, delirious, you get massive headaches and ultimately you end up in a coma, then death as your body cannot function any longer. Even worse, as the brain physically shrinks in your skull, the blood vessels attaching your brain to your skull and blood supply, can pull away and rupture, leading to a brain bleed and brain death.
While that’s happening, your organs begin to shut down, starting with your kidneys and they can’t handle the toxicity and your blood essentially becomes poisonous, causing muscle cramps and your organs to shut off, one by one. From start to finish, you’ve got about two weeks.
Starving to death is one of the worst ways to go, and it’s one of the most difficult ways to die. Over millions of years, the body has evolved to weather periods of fest and famine and will make adjustments to your metabolism to suit your external conditions. When your body is faced with starvation (as you learned with every diet imaginable), your body starts to burn through its fat stores for energy. When that runs out, you start to burn muscle.
After that, it gets worse. Your body needs to burn something, and you’re lacking in nutrients and vitamins. So between the two, your body is vulnerable to disease, which is a preferable way to go, compared to the alternative. If infection doesn’t get you, then you face a period of fatigue and listlessness due to insufficient electrolyte levels, then once all your muscles, fat and organs have been cannibalized, your body will go after your heart. Cardiac arrest follows.
It’s a brutal cycle of your body eating itself to keep you alive, but it’s that act that dooms you.
Stuck Inside of a Plunging Elevator
This is one of my greatest fears, and one that, thankfully, is unlikely to happen, due to safety features, and brakes and counter weights. But can you imagine? According to scientists, if you’re in an elevator that’s hurtling towards a solid floor, the best thing to do would be to lie flat on your back on the floor. This would spread out the G forces evenly throughout your body and make the impact feel less severe. If you remain standing, several things can happen – a) your organs would still keep moving at the same falling velocity of the elevator and be wrenched around if not completely torn free, b) the kinetic force of the impact would travel up your legs and shatter them and probably some other bones too, and c) the final stop might cause the elevator car itself to come apart, causing grievous bodily harm.
If you find yourself in an elevator that’s dropping down to the ground floor in a hurry, you’d better hope that the safety features kick in. If not, then pray that the elevator sits snugly in the shaft so that the pillow of air below the car slows the fall and the broken elevator cables below provide some cushioning.
Drowing At the Bottom of the Mariana Trench
The Mariana Trench is the deepest point of the Earth’s Ocean, measuring about 36,070 feet deep at it’s lowest point. It’s pretty dark and inhospitable down there, and other than some ugly fish and bacteria, it’s a wasteland.
So aside from drowning in general (which would already suck), falling into the deepest part of the ocean would suck more. The pressure down there is 15,750 psi which is 1000x the atmospheric pressure at sea level. Since we’re mostly water and water cannot be compressed, you’d probably retain your normal shape-isa, give or take all your bones being crushed, but what’s worse would be all of the air pockets inside of you. Your nasal cavity, throat, chest would all collapse inward, and you’d essential implode from all the crushing power of the ocean’s depths. And if that didn’t somehow kill you, then the temperature of 0 degrees would cause hypothermia, the geothermic vents of boiling hot water (700 degrees hot) would immolate you, or you’d suffocate.
Then you’re going to be ugly fish food, including something called the “Bone Eating Snot Flower” aka the Osedax, which is a fucked up looking, bone-chomping nightmare.
In light of Easter just ending, this form of execution is pretty high profile, and one of the most barbaric. While most think it’s the nails in the hands and feet and the exposure that’s the worst part, it’s not. It’s what happens afterwards, which is why the Romans loved it.
When a person is nailed to the cross, they’ll instinctively try to support their weight on their injured hands and feet, but eventually their strength gives out. As their legs fail, their arms are pulled from their sockets and the chest hangs down. This makes it impossible to fully exhale and the carbon dioxide levels in the body increase until you suffocate.
This whole process could take hours, if not days, and was a source of entertainment for the Romans. They’d wage on how long people would last, and sometimes, if they were feeling humane, they’d speed along the process.
Not sleeping won’t kill you directly, but it could lead to unpleasant ways of going to meet your maker. On one had there is sleep deprivation that can cause your reflexes and cognitive processes to be impaired, so that you make mistakes, cause accidents, etc… Over the long term, sleep deprivation can also lead to long term repercussions such as serious medical conditions that can arise when your body isn’t getting enough time to rebuild and reboot, but the causality is pretty thin. And for the record, the longest anyone’s every stayed awake is 11 days; a record held by Randy Gardner in 1964.
On the other hand, there is a condition called Fatal Familial Insomnia, which is a genetic condition that results from a mutated prion in the brain. Only 40 families in the world have been confirmed to have it, and only 100 people have ever been affected. But, it doesn’t sound pretty if you get it (but it’s rare that you would). Effects include panic, anxiety, hallucinations, rapid weight loss, complete sleep loss, dementia and eventually death, over the span of 2 years. Talk about a waking nightmare.
Of all the different ways to go out, burning is the least preferable option for the majority of people. In fact, 9/10 times, they’ll pick freezing to death over burning, because at least that way, you go numb before you die. This explains why burning people alive was a popular method of execution back in the day, not to mention the people that lose their lives to fire by accident. Either way, fire is not a pleasant way to go.
If you’re lucky, the toxic fumes will get you first, and in house fires, up to 75% of people die from carbon monoxide poisoning, rather than burning to death, which is a small mercy, as they’re rendered unresponsive before the fire gets to them.
If this doesn’t happen and it is the fire that does them in, it’s possibly the worst experience of all time. Think of the last time you got a burn, now imagine that process being prolonged, where the flames/heat are stimulating the nerves and cooking flesh, which actually boosts the skin’s pain sensitivity (as the body’s natural defence to get you out of there). After the first layer is burnt away, a deeper, duller pain begins as the muscles start hardening and you smell yourself cooking. Eventually blood and fluid loss will cause your heart to stop.
This might be a contentious topic and others might say it’s a humane way to execute, but not always. Sure it’s better than hanging, decapitation or electrocution, but the injection process isn’t foolproof.
The way it works is that there are 3 elements to lethal injection: sodium thiopental (to render you unconscious), pancuronium bromide (to paralyze you) and potassium chloride (to kill you). The thing is, even though it looks legit and like a medical procedure, it’s highly unregulated. There’s no standard dose and no rigorous testing to ensure that the inmate is indeed completely unconscious or paralyzed before they’re executed.
Some witness stories have recorded that inmates get a far too low dose of sodium thiopental, so they’re not completely out before their heart is stopped and they suffocate. Eyewitnesses have reported instances where inmates have ironed, writhed and tried to sit up. Yikes.
On the other hand, the electric chair isn’t the better way to go either.
As the current zaps through the body, the heart stops, the blood boils and the nervous system goes haywire, causing asphyxiation. There’s also a lot of physiological changes that happens to the body, with things sizzling, popping and catching fire, so it’s not pretty. But at least you go right?
Not always. Some reports have indicated that sometimes the current is too low to dispatch you quickly and it’s a slow process – almost 10 minutes and you’re awake the entire time.
Though a very popular form of execution in history with the French and he Tudors using it extensively, it should be a pretty easy way to go. It’s not.
Sometimes the blade isn’t sharp, or the force isn’t enough to cleanly sever the spinal chord, and the person remains there, alive and partially decapitated. Countless stories have told the tales of guillotines and axes that have been unable to complete the job in 1 blow, leaving the executed there in excruciating pain, crying, screaming and some even still praying.
That’s not to mention the stories of disembodied heads that retain consciousness for some time after separation from their bodies. Some say a head remains alive for 30 seconds, some say only 3-5, but that’s still too long to be bodiless and in agonizing pain.
As much as every superhero movie has told you that exposure to radiation will give you superpowers, the reality is that it’s gonna cause you pain. A lot of it.
If you get exposed to radiation, you’re essentially getting a dose of something that will rip apart atoms and molecules, and cause your body to break down. How severe the breakdown depends on the type of dose and type of radiation. Small doses will give you nausea, headaches, vomiting, fevers and rashes. Higher doses cause your cells to degrade and your blood cells to die. This means your immune system is weakened, you may develop haemophilia and your skin becomes blistered and begins to come off. On top of the physical symptoms, there’s also neurological damage, tremors, seizures, excruciating pain and your DNA is irreparably mutated.
Then you die.
Floating Too Close to a Neutron Star
A neutron star is the collapsed core of a large star, becoming the one of the smallest and densest stars we know of. They’re extremely hot, with an incredibly high magnetic field and an even higher amount of gravity (like 2 with 12 zeros after it) times stronger than Earth. So if you happen to get separated from your spaceship and start free falling towards the neutron star, it’s not the fall that will kill you, nor the heat, it’ll be the gravity. Gravity is stronger at closer instances and weaker farther away, so if you’re falling headfirst (for example), your noggin will be tugged towards the star with a greater force than the rest of your body, and this tidal force will rip you apart.
I’m gonna give space travel a hard pass, thanks.
If you think that the previously outlined experience of implosion in the Mariana Trench wasn’t a picnic, you’re not going to like this one either. Explosive decompression is the opposite, where the pressure outside of your body is negligible and you just expand, then explode. This has happened more often than you’d think.
Back in 1983, four divers were inside a decompression chamber on the oil rig Byford Dolphin, when it explosively decompressed. The air pressure went from nine atmospheres to one in less than a second, and the damage to the one of the divers was catastrophic. Everything in his body was forcibly ejected from his torso, including his spine, and some parts flew as far as 30 feet. But at least it was quick.
There was another incident, during the Russian Soyuz 11 mission. During their re-entry into the atmosphere, a seal leaked, causing the cabin to depressurize. Any gas that was trapped in the lungs expanded, causing the astronauts to feel as if they’d been kicked in the chest. Then bubbles of gasses dissolved in the blood travel through the circulatory system, causing pain and obstructing blood flow, and ultimately resulting in 3 dead Cosmonauts landing on Earth. This was the only time anyone’s been recorded dying in space.