10 Science Facts That are Actually Science Fiction

If people only ever believed what they were told, humans would never have made the scientific discoveries and advancements that would eventually inform our modern collective intelligence. Despite the work of scientists, there are still several myths that manage to slip through the cracks. Some of those myths even become “general knowledge.” In fact, you may be surprised to learn that some of these scientific facts you’ve known since you were a child, are actually entirely false. Here are some of the most widely held misunderstandings. It’s time to get things straight!

There are Five Senses

The five senses are one of the first things we ever learn as toddlers. They’re sight, smell, taste, touch, and sound. However, there are many more! The total number of senses is disputed, but some notable ones include the ability feel hot and cold, as well as hunger and thirst. There is also nociception, or the ability to sense pain, and the interesting proprioception, or the ability to connect two part of your body without visual confirmation; for example, closing your eyes and touching your nose.

Chewing Gum Stays in the Digestive Tract for Seven Years

Everyone remembers being warned not to swallow their gum or it will stay in their stomach for seven years. It turns out that this is no more than an old wives’ tale. In reality, swallowing gum is just like swallowing anything else. It moves through your digestive tract in 30 to 120 minutes. Though gum may stick to many surfaces, it won’t stick to the walls of your stomach. Still, gum is considered a non-food item and shouldn’t be swallowed.

Humans Only Use 10% of Their Brains

This is a myth people have been touting for years as a way to invoke what we could be capable of if we used more of our brain power. Some even said that Albert Einstein was as smart as he was because he used more than 10% of his brain. This “fact” is ridiculous, as human use nearly every part of their brain, all the time. Evidence even shows that over the course of a day, every part of your brain is exercised.

Lightning Never Strikes the Same Place Twice

The idea that lightning never strikes the same place twice is more useful as an idiom than as an actual fact. Lightning is just an electrostatic discharge looking for the quickest way down, which is why it tends to strike taller objects closer to the sky. That is why the tallest tree in a forest if often struck most. This is true for buildings too. In fact, the Empire State building is stuck more than 100 each year.

Dropping a Penny Off the Empire State Building Could Kill Someone

While it may be true that falling objects can be quite dangerous, even lethal, if they reach a certain velocity, a penny is not going to do anyone any significant damage. Because a penny is so light, weighing in at about a gram and because its flat shape leads to a lot of air resistance and tumbling, a penny isn’t going to gather enough velocity to kill someone, though it might feel like a forceful flick on the head.

Hair and Nails Continue to Grow After Death

This commonly believed factoid about humans can be quite a creepy thought, though there isn’t actually any validity to it. Hair and nails may appear to continue growing after death, but what is actually happening is an optical illusion. As the flesh shrinks and the skin begins to retract, the nails and hair take on the appearance of having grown. In fact, they need new cells to grow, so when the body stops producing new cells, they stop growing.

Blood Inside Your Body is Blue

Blood is red, all the time. So why are so many people are under the belief that blood is actually blue? One reason could be that our veins appear blue through our skin. That’s because the light needs to reach the blood cells to show its color, but because there is a barrier, what we see looks blue. Another reason could be that in textbooks, veins are sometimes colored blue to differentiate them from arteries. The fact remains that blood is indisputably red.

Sugar Causes Hyperactivity

Many people believe that you shouldn’t give children sugary foods because it leads to a “sugar high” or “sugar buzz,” which leads to a “sugar crash,” but while sugar can definitely cause some nasty consequences, hyperactivity is not one of them. Most likely, this hyper behavior in children is the result of excitement from receiving a treat or being around other children. Still, too much sugar can lead to obesity, hypertension, insulin resistance, and increase the risk of certain cancers, so staying away is a good idea.

Water Conducts Electricity

We all know that water and electricity don’t go well together, but it’s not because water is a great conductor, like so many believe. Water is actually a much better insulator than a conductor. However, because most water is “plain” and not “pure,” it usually contains ionic particles like sodium, calcium, and magnesium, which happen to be great conductors. This doesn’t mean you should go mixing water and electricity, though. Your chances of coming across plain water are highly unlikely.

The Great Wall of China Can Be Seen from Space

Since Ripley’s Believe It or Not declared the Great Wall of China the only man-made object visible from outer space in 1904, it has been adopted as fact. While it’s true that the Great Wall can be seen from great heights, it can’t actually be spotted from outer space, much to the dismay of Chinese-American astronaut Leroy Chiao, when trying to photograph the wall from the International Space Station. NASA confirms satellites can spot is from a low-orbit, though.

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