5 High IQ Idiots Who Destroyed Irreplaceable Things

Everybody makes mistakes (some of us do it professionally!), but there are "oops, I hot-glued Gary's iPhone to the urinal" mistakes, and then there are "uh oh, I just destroyed something completely irreplaceable, even though I absolutely should have known better" mistakes. The former is a hilarious faux pas we can all laugh about (except Gary, the humorless jerk); the latter is a tragic crime against humanity so grave that it earns a place on a comedic list article.

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5
Donald Rusk Currey Killed One Of The Oldest Organisms Known To Man

Murray Foubister/Wiki Commons

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In 1964, University Of North Carolina graduate student Donald Rusk Currey was studying the age of Bristlecone pine trees in the Nevada mountains. Unlike Giant Redwoods, which, like Helen Mirren, grow more majestic as they age, all Bristlecones look like a piece of driftwood suffering from clinical depression, so it's hard to eyeball one and know its age.

James Marvin Phelps
You may also recognize it from the lawn of every horror movie house ever.

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Now, the best way to determine a tree's age is to examine its rings, which is usually done with a screw-like device known as a borer that carefully extracts a small rod-shaped core from the tree. Currey decided that this tree in particular seemed like an a*****e, though, so he and a park ranger just cut the tree down to count the rings more easily.

University of Arizona
Sawing a tree down is a lot less boring.

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Once the rings were visible, Currey realized that the tree he'd just killed was more than 5,000 years old. That made it the oldest living organism in recorded history at the time. When that tree first sprouted, mammoths still walked the Earth.

Years later, we actually did find an older tree, but this should in no way take away from the fact that Donald Currey really cored the pooch on this one.


4
The Genesis Probe Crashed To Earth Because NASA Installed A Switch Backwards

NASA

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In 2001, NASA launched the Genesis probe, which spent the next few years travelling some 1.8 billion miles to collect samples of solar wind, so that scientists could better understand the composition of the solar system, and how it was formed.

NASA
It's a great way to make really expensive waffles.

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Needless to say, the project cost millions of dollars, which was unfortunate since it crashed into Utah back in 2004.

The plan was for the probe's parachute to deploy, slowing the whole thing down so that NASA could safely intercept it and retrieve the precious data. But the chutes failed, causing Genesis to plummet. What went wrong? All of the scientists, and engineers, and other such smart folks at NASA installed a "gravity switch" backwards.

U.S. Air Force
Pictured: Gravity.

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Thankfully, some samples did survive the crash, so the project wasn't a complete bust, but it does leave us with one profound question: How many rocket scientists does it take to install a switch correctly?

3
Kurt Russell Destroyed A Priceless Guitar On The Set Of The Hateful Eight

The Weinstein Company

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Director Quentin Tarantino is well known for his over-the-top, cartoonish violence, so it's easy to forget that he's also a cinematic auteur whose subtle artistic touches really make the film. Unfortunately, both the audience and the occasional Kurt Russell sometimes overlook these little details.

When Tarantino needed a guitar for his 2015 western The Hateful Eight, he talked a museum into lending him an insanely valuable, 19th century six-stringer. It was used in the scene where Jennifer Jason Leigh's character sits strumming peacefully, until Kurt Russell takes the guitar and smashes it.

The Weinstein Company
We can't be sure the guitar wasn't turning into a Thing.

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The plan was, of course, to switch the priceless guitar with a cheap replica before destroying it. But as the old saying goes, "when man plans, Kurt Russell laughs." The scene you watched was actually Snake Plissken butchering a real, priceless Martin guitar from the 1870s. All because some intern forgot to switch out props before filming. So, yeah, that look on Leigh's face in the scene? It's a look of genuine shock and horror, which probably contributed to her Best Supporting Actress nomination for this role.

The Weinstein Company
That and her spot-on charades skills.

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Needless to say, the museum was more than a little pissed. In a statement, the museum's director said, "As a result of the incident, the company will no longer loan guitars to movies under any circumstances."

2
A Contractor Destroyed Years Of Scientific Research By Unplugging A Fridge

Geralt/Pixabay

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Scientists at a government lab in Australia have been studying rare and valuable samples of soil bacteria called "rhizobia" for years. It's not just regular dirt; it's fancy dirt: The bacteria fixes nitrogen in soil, essentially acting as a self-replicating natural fertilizer.

This is big news for commercial crops, but more importantly, it has the potential for saving the Earth from a potential Interstellar-like crop blight, ensuring the safety of our Matthew McConaugheys for years to come.

Frank Dazzo
The only way this could be better for him is if they only ate shirts.

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And then, in February of 2006, a contractor briefly unplugged the refrigerator housing the bacteria samples to test some equipment. A few days later, scientists noticed "a distinct smell" coming from the fridge. When they investigated, they discovered three things: 1) the power to the refrigerator had never been restored, 2) the potential savior of mankind had been utterly spoiled, and 3) all the ice cream was melted.

The lab sued the contractors, saying they shouldn't mess with important equipment. The contractors shot back, arguing that the scientists should've really checked on their equipment more often. Humanity itself further counter-argued that both parties really should have known better, and that it's time to shut up and get back to work before we're eating nothing but corn flakes three times a day.

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1
An Artist Unknowingly Used Rare Comic Books To Make Papier-Mache

InspiredImages/Pixabay

One day, while dumpster diving, artist Andrew Vickers found a box full of comics from the 1960s. Figuring that if somebody threw them in the garbage, they must be worthless, he set about tearing them up to use as papier-mache for a new sculpture.

Jonathan Pow via The Daily Mail
Instead of water, he used nerds' tears.

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The completed sculpture was dubbed "Paperboy," and put on display at a Sheffield art gallery, where it caught the eye of Steve Eyre, who owns a comic book store. Eyre was pondering the chicken wire monstrosity when he realized -- horror of horrors -- that these weren't just any old comics. He estimated that there was about $62,000 worth on the surface alone, never mind what may have been buried in deeper layers.

Jonathan Pow via The Daily Mail
You don't want to know what the ass is made from.

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Among the casualties was an Avengers #1, worth about 12 grand, pasted to the inner thigh. The most expensive ballrest this side of Murderface's codpiece.

Also check out 5 Useless Products That Nobody Can Throw Out and 8 Insanely Valuable Items You Probably Owned (and Threw Out).

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