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Universe 25

Worth Sharing: Universe 25 by John Calhoun about Social Collapse

As a Civil Engineer working in the Architecture, Engineering and Construction (AEC) Industry, I am aware that the current global population is 7.5 billion and is expected to grow to 10 billion by 2050. This number is needed because with growing population, the industry is expected to meet the demands, as well. This means that there’d be more buildings and roads to be constructed.

Global population is expected
to top up to 10 billion
by 2050.

Although this is promising since this will open lots of jobs in the future, I’m kind of worried about the more important thing – this what we call “social collapse”. Instead of creating more to meet the the demands of increasing global population, are we really aware of the impact of this explosive growth? It’s terrifying.

Universe 25 by John Calhoun: Social Collapse

“Universe 25” experiment is one of the most interesting and terrifying experiments ever done in the history of science. It is all about the universes of mice which is considered to be an attempt to explain human societies.

Universe 25
Universe 25, February 101970, John Calhoun (Photo by Yoichi R Okamoto)

The American scientist John Calhoun created an “ideal world” or “utopia” in which hundreds of mice would live and reproduce. Calhoun is specifically concerned with the problem of abundance: human overpopulation.

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Utopia: Paradise of Rodents

Calhoun built this “utopia” where these mice had abundance of food and water in the beginning. They also enjoy a large living space. He paced four pairs of mice and then, they began to reproduce, resulting in excessive growth of population.

Everything was going pretty well until 315 days had passed. There was a significant reduction in their reproduction. When their population reached 600, the larger rodents began to attack the whole group. This resulted in many males collapsing “psychologically”. The female rodents also showed aggression towards the young rodents.

Universe 25: Psychological Changes

Eventually, the females continued to show more and more aggressive behavior which later resulted in lack of reproductive mood. There was a low birth rate. There was also an increase in mortality rate in younger rodents.

Then, a new class of male rodents appeared, the so-called “beautiful mice”. They refused to mate with the females or to “fight” for their space. All they cared about was food and sleep.

Then, there’s homosexuality and cannibalism

At one point, “beautiful males” and “isolated females” made up the majority of the population. As time went on, juvenile mortality reached 100% and reproduction reached zero.

Among the endangered mice, there was homosexuality, and at the same time, cannibalism increased, despite the fact that there was plenty of food. By 1973, Calhoun had killed the last mouse in the Universe 25.

History repeats itself…

John Calhoun repeated the same experiment 25 more times, and each time the result was the same.

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Calhoun’s scientific work is significant in representing as a model for interpreting social collapse, and his research serves as a focal point for the study of urban sociology.


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