Everyday Myths

There are certain aspects of everyday science that we think of as fact, but in reality may be pure urban legend. In this section, you can learn about some of the everyday science myths you may encounter.

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It opened the door for numerous technological advances, from nuclear power and nuclear medicine to the inner workings of the sun. It even appeared in the title of a Mariah Carey album. Really. Can you define those three key variables, too?

By Robert Lamb

Relativity is like a triple-scoop ice cream cone; most of us just can't gobble it down in one bite, not without experiencing some serious brain freeze. So let's take it one delicious relative scoop at a time.

By Robert Lamb

Forward and back, left and right, up and down -- most of us are familiar with these spatial dimensions. We might even pinpoint our location in time. Is that all there is to dimensions? No way, say the scientists who have a theory for everything.

By Robert Lamb

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Most of us are accustomed to watching 2-D films with flat images. But when we put on 3-D glasses, we see a world that has depth. We can imagine existing in such a world because we live in one. What about another dimension altogether?

By Molly Edmonds

You're talking with a group of people when, with no apparent warning, everyone stops talking. Is it just an awkward silence or a pregnant pause? Or is this silence something more?

By William Harris

You're starving and you just dropped your chocolate on the floor. Are you the type who blurts, "Five second rule!" and gobbles it anyway, or the kind who mourns its loss? Let's look at the science behind contamination.

By Michael Franco

When you're a kid, this frightening rumor burns through the playground like wildfire. After all, what could be worse than your own eyes exploding out of your head? But does it have any truth to it?

By Amy Hunter

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Though they're indispensable to any construction project, nails have a nasty habit of getting hammered into thumbs and puncturing tires. Is a rusty nail even more dangerous?

By Molly Edmonds

The world's intelligentsia has managed to convince us that the Earth is round and makes a full rotation once every 24 hours. Why can't they agree on the effects of that rotation on toilets and ball games?

By Jennifer Horton

And, here comes the pitch. Hey Bob, is that player reading a physics textbook at bat? Strike! Wait, Bob, he's put down the book and is getting ready to swing. And -- it's outta here. That guy in the lab coat has scored a home run!

By Robert Lamb

Can you do creepy, bendy things with your fingers that freak out your friends? You might have been called double-jointed. What's really going on with those joints of yours?

By Tom Scheve

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Unlike our beloved earthly matter, strange matter is weird -- that is, if it even exists. Did we mention its unnerving habit of eating everything in its path, under the right conditions?

By Susan L. Nasr

Decades before you ever heard of the Higgs, this multinational particle physics lab was smashing its way to answers about how the universe worked. Pop inside CERN just as half of the world's particle physicists do every year.

By John Perritano

CERN is a European research organization dedicated to the study of very tiny particles. Could they discover time travel?

By Jonathan Strickland

To understand the universe better, scientists from all over the world are going to harness the power of an enormous machine -- the Large Hadron Collider.

By Jonathan Strickland

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You know how when you're bored, time seems to move at a snail's pace, but when you're having fun it goes by all too quickly? Einstein called it time dilation.

By John Fuller

At an intersection, you hear the pitch of the train's horn go up and then back down after the train has passed. Why?

By William Harris

You may have heard the tale of a person who throws a penny from the Empire State Building and kills a pedestrian below. Does this story have any truth to it?

By Marshall Brain

Whether you chew to freshen your breath or blow a big bubble, you probably shouldn't swallow gum. But does it really stay in your body for seven years if you do?

By Josh Clark

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We've all seen it in the movies: A guy stumles across quicksand, and before we know it, he's waist deep and can't get out. Does Hollywood have it all wrong?

By Kevin Bonsor & Katherine Neer

Surfer and physicist A. Garrett Lisi may have solved one of physics' greatest mysteries -- the theory of everything. It's a mathematical link to how the universe works.

By Josh Clark

According to recent studies, it appears gingers need extra anesthesia to put them under during surgery. The same gene that gives redheads their hair color is apparently responsible for the way the body handles pain.

By Josh Clark

Swiss citizens recently cast their parliamentary election votes, which were transmitted using quantum cryptology, a method of encoding and decoding voting data using photons.

By Josh Clark

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Remember that traffic accident you avoided the other day? In another universe, you died. Or at least you did according to the Many-Worlds theory.

By Josh Clark

In the news coverage of the Russian submarine accident, I read that the Norwegian salvage divers used a technique called saturation diving, whereby they could stay underwater for days to weeks at a time. How does saturation diving work?