Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Top Myths in Science :Answered! has compiled the popular science myths. Read on. Science explains the confusion.

Humans use only 10 percent of their brains.
Science explains that even if you are sleeping, the cerebral cortex is still put into good use. Thus, NOT TRUE.

Adults don't grow new brain cells.

Although much of a human's crucial brain development happens during childhood, but it isn't all downhill from there. Neurons continue to grow and change well into the adult years. Thus, NOT TRUE.

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. Thus, NOT TRUE.

Animals can predict natural disasters.

There is no evidence that animals possess a mysterious sixth-sense allowing them to predict natural disasters. Their keen senses of smell, hearing, and sharp instincts alone are enough to send them scattering for the hillsides during a hurricane or tsunami. And even so, animals often die during natural disasters, so if they do have some sort of sixth sense, it's not worth much. Thus, NOT TRUE.

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. Thus, NOT TRUE.

A dog's mouth is cleaner than a human's.

Despite a habit of licking things no human would dare, Fido's mouth is often touted as scientifically more sterile. Truth is, oral bacteria are so species-specific that one can't be considered cleaner than the other, just different. Thus, NOT TRUE.

Men think about sex every seven seconds.

Males are driven to reproduce, evolutionarily speaking, but there is no scientific way of measuring to what extent that desire consumes their everyday lives. Thankfully, for world productivity as a whole, seven seconds seems a gross overstatement, as best researchers can tell. Thus, NOT TRUE.

A falling cat will always land on its feet.

Studies have demonstrated that, when dropped from most heights, cats will land gracefully on their feet. Results change only with cats dropped upside-down from a height of one foot or less. We're not suggesting you try this at home. (I tried this at home.) Thus, NOT TRUE.

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. Thus, PARTLY TRUE.

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.


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