Science Versus Myth

Are vampires real? What is an out-of-body experience? Are crop circles proof that aliens exist? HowStuffWorks explores what is real and what is urban legend with this collection of Science Versus Myth articles.

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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

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

Do you believe in aliens? If you do, you certainly aren't alone. Stories of flying saucers abducting people and planes have existed since the dawn of flight. See whether you think these pictures scream Photoshop or for real.

By Rick Mayda


The saying goes that nothing in life is certain except for death and taxes. What do you know about death? Explore different types of burials and learn more about mortality.

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

We'd by lying if we said that the sight of the Grim Reaper standing by our bedside, scythe in hand, wouldn't scare the daylights out of us. How did this well-known personification of death become so frightening?

By William Harris


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

Carnivals and amusement parks create haunted houses to give you a good scare during Halloween. But what if the scares lasted for centuries -- and your house was the frightening attraction?

By Cristen Conger & Jonathan Atteberry

Cult films like Phantasm haven't exactly made graveyards inviting places. But what do we fear? Is it the thought of all those decaying bodies and bones stirring under the soil?

By Robert Lamb

Do you relish the thought of finding yourself face-to-face with a ghost? Do your favorite historical sites all have human suffering in common? If ghosts are your pleasure, then you may want to visit the cities on our list.

By Sarah Winkler & Mark Boyer


It's not cool when a ghost drags you out of your hotel bed. Unless, of course, you're into that kind of thing. What hotels provide such fright?

By Charles W. Bryant & Jessika Toothman

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


Cryptozoology is the study of creatures that are rumored to exist. But for true believers, these "cryptids" are alive and well and lurking among us. Who are some of the most famous creatures people are looking for?

By Nathan Chandler

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

Why was the eccentric heiress Sarah Winchester consumed with transforming her six-room farmhouse into a creepy labyrinth?

By Molly Edmonds


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

Each year, approximately 4,000 people go to the emergency room for injuries caused by accidents involving electrical outlets. While this number seems high, even more people never make it to the hospital. They die.

By Katherine Neer