Megalophobia, or the fear of large things, is something every human experiences at some point in their life, especially if they considered the vastness of the universe and how small our own planet is. It is a reminder of how insignificant we are, and that can certainly be an unsettling feeling. But, if you are ready to face that fear, here are some massive objects that will probably trigger your “megalophobia.”
1. The mysterious hurricane on Saturn’s north pole which spans twice the width of the Earth.
When the Cassini spacecraft sent the images of Saturn’s north pole, scientists at NASA were astonished to find what seemed to be an impossible hurricane on a planet that is just made of gas. The false-color images were taken on November 27, 2012, three decades after the much less-detailed images sent by Voyager 2.
The eye of the hurricane spans a staggering 2,000 kilometers (1,250 miles), almost 50 times the size of an average hurricane on Earth. The cloud speeds were 330 miles per hour (150 meters per second), four times faster than storms on Earth. It is centered on the planet’s mysterious, six-sided, weather pattern known as “the hexagon.” On Earth, the hurricanes tend to move north because of our planet’s spin, and scientists believe the same thing happened on Saturn where it seems to have be stuck to the pole. (1, 2)
2. A comparison of Rosetta’s comet with Los Angeles.
On March 2, 2004, the European Space Agency launched the space probe Rosetta accompanied by the comet-lander module Philae. Its destination, the first of its kind, was the comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko discovered in 1969. The probe reached the comet on August 6, 2014, and maneuvered itself to orbit it at a distance of 30 to 10 kilometers (19 to 6 miles).
The comet 67P has the shape of two lobes connected via a neck and is approximately 4.3 kilometers (2.7 miles) long and 4.1 kilometers (2.5 miles) wide. Its size in comparison with the city of Los Angeles can be seen in the above image made by Matt Wang.
The comet was originally from the Kuiper Belt, but like many other comets, it was ejected into the Solar System where Jupiter’s gravitational force changed its orbit. The perihelion, or the closest distance from the Sun in its orbit, is 193 million kilometers. (source)
3. A Typhoon-class submarine passing by a beach in Russia.
Back in the 1970s and 80s, Russia began Project 941 to match the Ohio-class submarines of America. Russia, however, did more than that. At 175 meters in length and 23 meters width, the Typhoon-class are far larger and heavier than any submarine built in the world. They can displace 48,000 tons of water when submerged. Needless to say, unlike most submarines, they also have the most comfortable living quarters for the crew when they are submerged for months on end.
There have been six submarines of the Typhoon-class. During the 90s, there were unsuccessful proposals to convert the submarines to carry cargo to the far-flung, northern territories of the country. As of 2013, three of the submarines have been withdrawn from active service and scrapped, and two were decommissioned with plans to be scrapped. Only one, the TK-208 or Dmitriy Donskoy, is in active service. (source)
4. Gordon Dam in Tasmania, Australia.
Gordon Dam was constructed in 1974 by Hydro Tasmania across the River Gordon for generating hydroelectricity. The resulting reservoir is known as Lake Gordon. The curved dam wall is 198 meters long and 140 meters high, making it the fifth tallest dam in Australia. The water descends 183 meters into the underground power station to turn three turbines generating up to 432 megawatts of power. Though it’s not the tallest or the biggest of dams, it does offer a dizzying view from the stairs leading to the walkway atop the wall. (source)
5. This extraordinarily large diamond mine next to a town in Russia.
The Mir mine, also known as Mirny mine, was first started in 1957 after kimberlite was found there two years before. The mine is 1,200 meters (3,900 feet) in diameter and 525 meters (1,722 feet) deep. Despite the harsh climate, permafrost, and the slush that the ground turns into during brief summers, the mine was hugely successful. During the 60s, it produced over 10 million carats of diamonds per year giving De Bears a run for its money.
On December 23, 1980, Mir mine found its largest diamond weighing 342.5 carats (68.50 grams). It was strangely named “26th Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.” After being discontinued in 2001, mining resumed in 2009, and the diamonds are being mined underground now instead of in the open pit. (source)
6. Dinosaur footprints in Plagne, France.
In 2009, near the southeastern city of Lyon on the Jura Plateau in a tiny French village known as Plagne, amateur fossil hunters discovered the largest footprints found so far in the world. The footprints are an amazing 1.2 to 1.5 meters (3.9 to 4.9 feet) wide. According to the paleontologists at the National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS), this size corresponds to animals that weigh over 30 or 40 tons.
The footprints are preserved in dried, chalky sediment dating back 150 million years ago to the Upper Jurassic Period. Though these certainly are very big, the footprints might not belong to the biggest dinosaur there ever was. The biggest is a creature known as Amphicoelias fragillimus from the sauropod (the big long-necked, long-tailed herbivore) family believed to weigh at least 122 tons and measure 130 to 200 feet long. (source)
7. The longest escalator in the US.
Opened in 1990, Maryland’s Wheaton Station is the second deepest station after the Forest Glen Station which is in Maryland as well. The station boasts the longest set of single-span escalators that are 70 meters (230 feet) long and reach a height of 35 meters (115 feet). It takes approximately two minutes and 45 seconds to take travel on it in one direction. To save expenses while building at such a depth, the station features a separate platform and tunnel for each direction, similar to London Underground’s tube stations. (source)
8. This great big circle is the event horizon of the third-biggest, supermassive black hole. That tiny thing at the center is our Solar System for comparison.
This supermassive black hole is the center of S5 0014+81, an extremely bright quasar known as a “blazar.” A quasar is a galactic center with a supermassive black hole surrounded by a huge amount of orbiting matter that is affected by the black hole’s gravitation so much that it emits light energy. Located 12 billion light-years away from Earth in the constellation Cepheus, the black hole is 40 billion times as massive as the Sun and 10,000 times more massive than the Milky Way’s own black hole.
Since a black hole is a singularity, it doesn’t exactly have a definite size. Instead, the radius of its event horizon, also known as the “Schwarzschild radius,” is given as its measurement. For S5 0014+81’s black hole, it is 118.35 billion kilometers, that’s 40 times the radius of Pluto’s orbit.
Another measure of its massiveness is the brightness of the orbiting matter or the accretion disc, and this one is 300 trillion times as bright as the Sun. So, if it were to be at a distance of 280 light-years from Earth, then we’d receive as much energy from it as we do from the Sun.
But, S5 0014+81’s black hole is only the third most massive. The most massive black hole we’ve known so far is the one at the center of the quasar TON 618 located in the constellation Canes Venatici. It weighs 66 billion times as much as the Sun. (1, 2)
9. Massive abandoned hydroelectric tunnels 10 stories under Niagara Falls.
The vicinity of Niagara Falls had been home to several hydroelectric power plants in both Canada and the US since 1882. The tunnels featured in the image above are part of the Toronto Power Generating Station in Canada that was completed in 1906. It was decommissioned in 1974 and is now a National Historic Site.
The plant’s generators sit on top of a very long vertical shaft below which are the turbines. When it was still functional, the power plant had a generating capacity of 137,500 horsepower (102,500 kW). (1, 2)
10. Cave of Crystals located 300 meters underground in Mexico.
Also known as the “Giant Crystal Cave,” the cave is located in the town of Naica in the Mexican state of Chihuahua. The cave is full of selenite crystals, a type of gypsum which crystalizes as transparent columns, and in this case, some of the largest ever found. The crystals formed because the oxygen from the cool surface water mixed with the sulfide ions in the groundwater that was heated by an ancient magma chamber located three to five kilometers under the town. The process was a very slow one and took over 50,000 years to complete.
The largest crystal found in the cave to date is 12 meters (39 feet) in length, four meters (13 feet) in diameter, and weighs 55 tons. Because of the heat coming from below, the cave is extremely hot with air temperatures reaching up to 58 °C (136 °F) and humidity between 90 to 99%. So, the cave is relatively unexplored, as, without proper protection, it’s hard to stay there for more than 10 minutes. (source)
11. New Delhi’s Ghazipur landfill, nicknamed “Mt. Everest.”
After being opened in 1984 near the village of Ghazipur, the landfill functioned for years before reaching its full capacity in 2002. As of June 2019, the 13-million-metric-ton, mountainous heap of waste has risen as high as 65 meters (213 feet) and is expected to surpass the Taj Mahal’s height (73 meters, 239 feet) by 2020. Now and then, the landfill experiences landslides and fires due to methane. After a particularly nasty landslide in 2017, there was a ban on dumping more waste there. But when the authorities could not find an alternative, the dumping continued after just a few days. (1, 2)
12. This large red sand dune in Namib desert.
Stretching over 2,000 kilometers across the western coast of South Africa, the Namib desert is known for its extremely tall sand dunes, many reaching over 200 meters. The dune featured in the picture above is called the “Big Daddy dune” located beside the Sossusvlei, a dry lake filled with salt and clay.
The dune is 325 meters high and faces another tall dune known as “Big Mamma.” Big Daddy, however, is only the second tallest sand dune, the first being Dune 7 which is 388 meters high and is located near the city Walvis Bay. (source)