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What are the biggest scientific accidents of all time?

 In  line with the response of Athmane Tajine, we can mention several  incidents of a rather severe nature due to "beasts" computer problems  (which are all human faults and could have been avoided, but no  responsibility has ever been retained because in all cases the industrial processes have been particularly cured and followed).

Explosion of the Ariane 5 rocket (1996, Kourou, French Guiana)

On  June 4, 1996, the Ariane rocket exploded after only 36.7 seconds of  flight, representing a loss of more than 500 million dollars.

The  error is attributed by the Inquiry Committee [1] to the inertial  reference system, which crashed after the lifting of an untreated  exception, related to the conversion of a floating-point number  (represented on 64 bits )  in integer (represented on 16 bits) - the variable concerned, in the  ADA code, stored the value of the horizontal velocity of the rocket  relative to the firing point. The  code had been directly imported from an Ariane 4 module, which had a  rather different take-off trajectory, and in particular never  encountered too high horizontal speeds (in practice less than 32768 =  216

). This value was exceeded by Ariane 5, which resulted in an overflow.

The  autopilot continued to receive totally erroneous values, and steered  the engine goutiers to make a violent course correction. Dynamic forces shredded the rocket and self-destruction followed almost instantly.

Some  variables were protected against this problem (the exception was  caught) but three variables - considered critical - were not. Nothing explains this choice from a conceptual point of view, and it is clearly a fault.

Patriot Missile (1991, Gulf War)

In  February 1991, in Dharan, Saudi Arabia, an American Patriot missile  failed to intercept an Iraqi Scud missile, which eventually resulted in  28 American (military) casualties. The  investigation reveals that the malfunction is due to a rounding problem  resulting in an error in the calculation of travel time.

The numbers were represented on 24 bits as a fixed point, while the tick of the internal clock was one-tenth of a second. But the 1/10 writing in binary is infinite:

and the on-board computer rounded up to 24 digits, which accumulated a slight error in the countdown of time ... over time.

During the attack, the system had been running for a hundred hours, resulting in a rounding error of - still - 0.34 seconds. Over  the same time interval, the Scud missile had time to cover an  additional 500 meters, which is why the US missile missed its target. 

 The destruction of the Mars Climate Orbiter spacecraft.

The cause of this destruction is so stupid that for me it is one of the biggest scientific accidents.

In 1998, NASA launched a space probe towards Mars. This probe was to study the climate on Mars. It was to provide valuable information on the latter including the water cycles of the red planet.

In order to reduce the mission's budget, NASA outsources part of the project to a company, Lockheed Martin Astronautics. The probe must return and remain in orbit around Mars, and therefore follow a very precise trajectory.

During  the journey between the earth and Mars, the trajectory is slightly  corrected by thrusters so that the approach is made at the right  distance (between the probe and Mars).

Finally, that's what our dear scientists thought ...

In fact, the instructions given to the probe were false.

The trajectory calculations were performed by NASA software, which used the international unit system, including the Kilogram. But  the engineers did not know that the information transmitted by the  probe, via the software of the subcontractor, was in book.

The  confusion between the two units falsified the calculation of the  trajectory, the probe was too close to Mars and flamed like a shooting  star.

Here's how a stupid mistake of units turned a few hundred million dollars into ashes. 


I would have to say Chernobyl has to rank fairly high on the list. It happened over 32 years ago on April 26 1986. It was a nuclear reactor at a nuclear power station that went into melt down and exploded.

The sad thing is the workers and their families were not evacuated straight away. The radiation fallout covered the whole region. The government at the time was not prepared for such a catastrophe and were caught unawares.

They called in the army and being desperate offered for volunteers to clean the reactor. Ones doing military service were offered a deal of working on the reactor to forgo 5 years military service.

Today the whole area is a no go zone and you can visit for short times only. The dead trees haven't rotted away as their is no bug life. The leaves on the floor from 32 years ago are still there as they can't decompose as they are full of radiation.

Animal life is coming back slowly but they are eating the plants that are now growing full of radiation. Mutant wild boar three times the size of normal boar are roaming the woods. Locals hunt the boar and are contaminating themselves. The damage caused by this one event has scarred the entire region.

The problem lies if there is a fire now as all the dry dead wood and leaves could cause a radiation smoke cloud to blanket a bigger region. This catastrophe is not finished yet and god knows when it will be safe again.


Chernobyl disaster

On April twenty six, 1986, there was one in all the most important nuclear disasters in human history. one in all four nuclear reactors at the Chernobyl power station, Ukraine (then still a part of the Soviet Union), exploded.

The radiation discharged by the explosion was a hundred times bigger than the atomic bombs born on port and city. a section of about [*fr1] the scale of Italian Republic was contaminated and its radiation unfold to most of the previous land and components of geographic region.

After thirty years passed, Chernobyl was still a dead town, nor was Pripyat, a town that was solely 3 kilometers from Chernobyl and was so established to support the nuclear energy plant.

 To commemorate a disaster that encompasses a wide impact and affects the lives of several individuals, here ar some facts regarding urban center.

1. the largest artificial disaster of all time

Everyone definitely is aware of that urban center is a rare disaster, however you'll not recognize that the urban center incident was enclosed within the biggest artificial disaster of all time in line with the International Nuclear Event Scale (INES).Unmitigated, INES placed this extraordinary event at level seven which suggests this can be a serious event that encompasses a wide impact on health and also the surroundings.

2. life inhabitants of urban center

After the urban center disaster in 1986 in land, quite 100 thousand individuals were for good exhausted from the urban center Exclusion Zone. Meanwhile, the scientific dialogue close the fate of life remaining within the exclusion space continues to flow.Previous analysis revealed in Oct 2015 explicit that wild animal populations within the space developed chop-chop supported animal footprint calculations.


It is when one of the greatest woman in history died from her own invention. Marie (Sktodowska)  Curie died because of long exposure to radiation which resulted her heart to be contracted. To be specific, she died because of aplastic anemia, an exposure to radiation in the course of her radiological work at field hospitals during World War II.

She was known for her pioneer research in radioactivity and the first woman to win ta Nobel Prize (not once but twice).

The Nobel Peace Prize scientist has been so much influential in her discovery with X-rays which are now used as services in hospitals. 

It is of pure sadness to die on your greatest discovery. It aid so much in humanity especially in the field of medical technology.