Thursday, May 28, 2009

Most Popular Myths in Science


Weird Facts: Top 10 Most Popular Myths in Science

There is no gravity in space
Blame the term "zero-gravity" for this common misconception. Gravity is everywhere, even in space. Astronauts look weightless because they are in continuous freefall towards the Earth, staying aloft because of their horizontal motion. The effect of gravity diminishes with distance, but it never truly goes away. Oh, and while we're at it, it's also untrue that space is a vacuum. There are all kinds of atoms out there, albeit sometimes far apart (and this thin gas adds to the collective gravity budget, too!)

Humans use only 10 percent of their brains
This media darling has been around for at least a century. Fortunately, it's just not true. MRI imaging clearly demonstrates--with fancy colors no less--that humans put most of their cerebral cortex to good use, even while dozing.

Yawning is "contagious"
Empirically, this is tough to deny; perhaps you'll yawn while reading this. The real question is whether there's actually something physiological at work here, and the answer is likely yes: even chimpanzees mimic each other's yawns.

A penny dropped from the top of a tall building could kill a pedestrian
A penny isn't the most aerodynamic of weapons. A combination of its shape and wind friction means that, tossed even from the 1,250-foot Empire State Building, it would travel fast enough merely to sting an unlucky pedestrian.

Adults don't grow new brain cells
Much of a human's crucial brain development happens during childhood, but it isn't all downhill from there. Studies have shown that neurons continue to grow and change well into the adult years.

Chicken soup can cure the common cold
Cure is a strong word, but science suggests Moms around the world are still right in forcing spoonfuls of chicken soup down their kids' throats. Studies have found that the broth actually contains anti-inflammatory properties that help reduce congestion.

Eating a poppy seed bagel mimics opium use
Purveyors of this urban legend call on a popular Seinfeld episode for support. It turns out there's truth behind the comedy: tests suggest ingesting just two poppy seed bagels may produce a positive result for opiates on a drug screen.

Lightning never strikes the same place twice
In fact lightning favors certain spots, particularly high locations. The Empire State Building is struck about 25 times every year. Ben Franklin grasped the concept long ago and mounted a metal rod atop the roof of his home, then ran a wire to the ground, thereby inventing the lightning rod.

Chickens can live without a head
True, and not just for a few minutes. A chicken can stagger around without its noggin because the brain stem, often left partially intact after a beheading, controls most of its reflexes. One robust fellow lived a full eighteen months. Likely he was a real birdbrain, however.
Water drains backwards in the Southern Hemisphere due to the Earth's rotation
Not only is the Earth's rotation too weak to affect the direction of water flowing in a drain, tests you can easily perform in a few washrooms will show that water whirlpools both ways depending on the sink's structure, not the hemisphere.
SOURCE: WEIRD FACTS

1 comment:

  1. interesting read! =)

    the penny story sounds scary! ;)

    ReplyDelete

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