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 if the Yellowstone supervolcano erupted?

Welcome to Yellowstone, a natural wonderland that's home to stunning vistas, vibrant plant and animal life ... and a massive and potentially devastating supervolcano.

What if the sun disappeared for a week?

Your vacation would be ruined, and that's not all.

What if Earth Lost Gravity for Five Seconds?

Sans gravity, would we all just bounce up and down like astronauts on the moon? No. It would look a little more like a Michael Bay movie.

What if Earth changed its orbit?

Our planet's path around the sun defines life on Earth. What would happen if it changed?

What If the Amazon Rainforest Is Completely Destroyed?

Climate change and industrial activity are wiping out large sections of the world's largest rainforest.

What if insects disappeared from the planet?

If you've found yourself screeching while a bug scuttled through your kitchen, you're not alone. But we need bugs more than they need us.

Do sailors really watch for red skies?

Even with today's weather-forecasting technologies, some old sailing adages stick around. Does "Red sky in morning, sailor take warning" hold water?

Does eating bread crust give you curly hair?

For decades, moms have been threatening that if you don't eat your crust, your hair will fall out, fall limp or somehow fall incorrectly. What's the deal with bread crusts and hairstyles?

Does the full moon affect your sleep?

The full moon gives us the ocean tides. And werewolves. Does it also give us sleep issues? Some say yes. Here's the science.

Is suicide more common around holidays?

For some, the holidays are time of good cheer. For others, they're a season of anxiety and loneliness. Does that translate to a higher suicide rate?

What if cows didn’t exist?

A world without cows would be a world without burgers, right? Yes, and to beef eaters that's bad news, but it would also be a world with less methane. So would losing all cows be worth it?

What if a dog eats a chicken bone?

Your dog just swallowed a plate full of chicken bones. Is he really in serious danger? The short answer: yes. Find out why you need to get him to a vet immediately.

What if sea levels rose 12 inches?

Figuring out how to deal with rising sea levels isn't some kind of purely academic exercise. It's happening. So how do we deal with it, especially if the sea rises a foot in our lifetime?

What if Earth's Magnetic Field Flipped?

Earth's magnetic field has flipped many times before, and scientists say it will flip again (though probably not in our lifetime). While it might not be catastrophic, a major change in the magnetic field would present a special set of problems.

What If You Ate Uranium?

You would probably be pretty freaked out if you ate uranium, right? Well, if you've ever eaten a potato or turnip, you may already have done so. How does your body deal with this radioactive substance?

What if you drank embalming fluid?

Feel like drinking a nice, big glass of embalming fluid? We didn't think so. But what would happen if a living person poured into his or her body something meant for the insides of the dead? Nothing good.

What If You Drink Bleach?

A small amount of household bleach, while it sounds gross, probably won't harm you. But what happens if you drink more than that?

What if you eat marijuana?

Yes, you can eat marijuana, but turns out it can provide a much different -- and possibly more potent -- high than when you smoke it. Read on to find out ingested marijuana's effects on the body.

What if You Only Ate One Type of Food for the Rest of Your Life?

Let's say you like chicken nuggets. You really like chicken nuggets. You like chicken nuggets so much that it's the only food you'll eat. What does that do to your health? Nothing good, it turns out.

What if you painted a room with nail polish?

Ready to paint your room, but want to do something a little different? How about painting the walls with your favorite nail polish? Read on to find out why this may not be the most practical (or healthy) idea.

10 Reasons Zombies Are Physically Impossible

The undead are frightening, brain-hungry monsters, lumbering toward their victims with great purpose. But wait. Can they even digest brains?

What if Earth had rings?

Sure, Saturn's luminous rings are a cosmic marvel, but did you know that Earth once had rings? If we still had them today, what would they look like?

What if the average human life span was 100?

The reasons behind our lengthening lives may surprise you. (Hint: Babies are key.) But how would society have to adjust if we all lived for a century?

What if China never had a one-child policy?

China's government imposed mandatory IUDs and mass sterilizations, among other measures. That's some serious micromanagement. Was it necessary to avert a population disaster?

What if we ran out of fossil fuels?

We wouldn't stop requiring power. So how would a turn to alternative energy sources work out for transportation, international trade and our daily diets?