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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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?

By Jeff Harder

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.

By Jeff Harder

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

By Nathan Chandler

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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?

By Laurie L. Dove

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?

By Gallagher Flinn

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?

By Gallagher Flinn

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?

By Gallagher Flinn

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Remove that pesky drowning risk, and the world formerly under the sea opens with possibility — despite our inefficient limbs and tendency toward hypothermia.

By Gallagher Flinn

If minerals make up so much of the Earth, why would we ever face shortages? The availability of the resources we use to create products often depends more on our priorities than the planet's supply.

By Gallagher Flinn

Assuming we got to keep the sun, how bad would be for travelers to not have these little guiding lights? And what else might have changed in history without stars?

By Gallagher Flinn

People would look underground for water and maybe just stay there to escape the fiery hell on Earth's surface. But could humanity really last without the seas?

By Gallagher Flinn

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She's a Disney princess, a Starbucks Coffee logo and a metaphor for transformation. Occasionally, she's even "photographed." Why are humans so fascinated with these creatures?

By Julia Layton

Our early ancestors, enjoying the effects of rotten fruit, had stumbled onto something big. How did alcohol serve as a nutrition source and, some believe, help motivate hunters to take up farming?

By Gallagher Flinn

There'd be some sacrifices. But bird-people society would have its advantages: interchangeable parents, sophisticated gardening skills and a close relationship with trees.

By Gallagher Flinn

Income inequality contributes to societal ills. Would mandating equal paychecks for all improve the situation or lead to work-shirking and massive government?

By Gallagher Flinn

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When it comes to eating certain questionable foods — like unrefrigerated potato salad — most of us know to stay far away. But what about moldy bread? If you cut the offending areas off, is it a risk worth taking or a ticking time bomb?

By Karen Kirkpatrick

Picture this: You're floating through space, minding your own business, when some super-scary alien attacks you. Clearly you need to defend yourself, but all you have is a handgun. Will it do you any good, or are you mincemeat?

By Karen Kirkpatrick

Say a guy mistakes "the Pill" for a breath mint. Is he going to have any lasting side effects if he takes one? What about if he took it regularly?

By Alia Hoyt & Karen Kirkpatrick

Tons of planets have more than one moon. Heck, Jupiter and Saturn have more than 50 each, and they seem to be doing just fine. So why is it that the idea of a second moon for Earth has scientists throwing up red flags?

By Karen Kirkpatrick

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Double the suns means double the suntan, double the solar energy and double the awesome sunsets, right? Well, not exactly. Having two suns might sound fun, but it would probably make for a pretty different environment here on Earth.

By Karen Kirkpatrick

Coral reefs are pretty cool. More than just snorkeling destinations, they shelter tons of marine life — creatures many of us depend on for food and medicine. So what would happen if the coral reefs disappeared? Here's a hint: It isn't good.

By Karen Kirkpatrick

We all know what Viagra does and why men use it — not to mention how much money this particular prescription drug has made over the years. But does it improve sexual health for women, too?

By Karen Kirkpatrick & Jennifer Walker-Journey

Cockroaches are among the most reviled creatures on the planet. They bring bacteria and allergens wherever they go — along with severe cases of the creepy crawlies. But would we really want to live in a world devoid of these little pests?

By Karen Kirkpatrick

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Snakes get a bad rep. They've become so associated with dishonesty, deception and temptation that many might prefer the world just rid itself of them altogether. But creepy as they may be, it turns out that snakes are pretty handy to have around.

By Karen Kirkpatrick

The Earth is a pretty stalwart planet, having survived billions of years of punishment at the hands of asteroids and other cosmic bodies. But could it withstand more than 7 billion people jumping up and down in unison? Do we even want to find out?

By Karen Kirkpatrick