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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What is a dimension, and how many are there?

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.

Can our brains see the fourth dimension?

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?

Does a hush really pass over a crowded room 20 minutes after the hour?

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?

Does the five second rule really work?

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.

If you sneeze with your eyes open, will your eyes pop out of your skull?

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?

If you step on a rusty nail, will you really get tetanus?

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?

Does the rotation of the Earth affect toilets and baseball games?

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?

UFO Pictures

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.

All About Death

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.

Could baseball players learn more from physics class than spring training?

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!

Can you really be double-jointed?

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?

How the Grim Reaper Works

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?

Should I be afraid of strange matter?

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?

10 Real-life Haunted Houses

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?

What makes graveyards scary?

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?

Top 10 Hotels That Will Scare the Daylights Out of You

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?

How CERN Works

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.

What does CERN mean for the future of the universe?

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

How the Large Hadron Collider Works

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.

Does time change speed?

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.

How the Doppler Effect Works

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

Why does the Winchester Mystery House have stairs leading nowhere?

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

What if I threw a penny off the Empire State Building?

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?

What if I stuck my finger in an electrical outlet?

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.

Does gum really stay in you for seven years?

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?