Scientific Sundays #3: Common Scientific Myths Part 1

There are many things you have been told, from your parents, colleagues, friends and most definitely the internet that aren’t necessarily as honest as you may think. What if we told you many scientific things that you know and make you fell clever are actually fake? Don’t worry, we’ll correct you, and then you can feel smart when you correct someone else over these common scientific myths. Note, these myths are in no particular order, no myth is more common according to where it is on the list.

Brain Cells Cannot Multiply and Regenerate

This is one of the more common myths, with many people thinking that this is true, and has in fact been taught in schools and believed by many scientists as well until fairly recently. Yes, you do lose brain cells when you hit your head, but it has to be quite a hard hit, for example a concussion, which causes enough neuron damage to knock you out, but this is repairable. Every cell (and atom therefore) in your body is replaced every 5-7 years, no matter what type of cell, they’re all constantly dying and reproducing (So, you five years ago wasn’t you. Confused?).  As you grow older however, the amount of brain cells you have decreases after you are approximately 25 years old, which is why as you get older your memory gets worse and you are more likely to get Alzheimer’s, but due to the fact that brain cells do regenerate, there is hope for a cure.

You Only Use 10% of Your Brain

Speaking of brains, this statement has been changed over the years, and may have been something else. It is certainly not true that you only use 10% of your brain, what is true is that you use a small amount of your brain  at one time on average. Inactive brain cells still have a part to play.

A Penny Dropped From A Tall Building Can Kill Someone Walking On The Ground

This is a very common myth, and it says that a penny dropped from a tall building will gather enough speed to kill a pedestrian and/or crack their skull. First of all, the shape of a penny means that it is not very aerodynamic, certainly not enough to be dangerous. People then however say that you should drop it from an even taller building so it can fall faster, but this is also wrong, as the penny would reach terminal velocity (fastest possible speed for an object) and still not be able to cause any serious damage, all that would happen is the person would feel a ‘stab’ of temporary pain, and then would carry on with their daily business.

Lightning Does Not Strike The Same Place Twice

Wrong. In fact, it is more likely that lightning will strike that place again, as the reason it hit that place was because it was high up and was a good conductor, so what stops it from doing so again? Even as the lightning moves away, it will strike that place again before finding another similar structure.

There Is No Gravity In Space

Quite the contrary actually. People believe this due to the image of an astronaut in a shuttle or space station floating around. This does not mean that they aren’t affected by gravity, it’s just that they are moving so fast around Earth that they never land. The gravitational pull does reduce the further away you go from a planet, star etc. but is still there.

Five/Ten Second Rule

As soon as food touches the floor, germs and bacteria stick to it, but that doesn’t mean you can’t eat it. Eating those germs can actually strengthen your immune system. So if something particularly tasty falls on the floor, eat it anyway.

to be continued…



Posted on October 21, 2012, in Scientific Sundays and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. 5/10 sec rule is awsome 🙂 good to know that.

  2. good one. Enjoyed reading it

  3. Great info and well written. Keep up the great stuff!

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