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.

Hoaxes have been around for centuries, created by people as jokes, or for profit or attention. Crazy as some of them -- including these 10 -- seem in hindsight, why were people so willing to buy into them?

The best photograph can't touch one. A death mask, in all its 3-D glory, is the last likeness of a loved one that a family can own. After all, it vividly preserves what some consider to be the very essence of a person -- the face.

Some malarkey is so believable that it's turned many of us into inadvertent purveyors of hogwash. What are 10 bits of malarkey that tend to slip through the "hey, wait a minute" filter?

The idea that dinosaurs roamed the Earth with man is one of the many that persist despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary. What is belief perseverance, and why does the human mind go to such great lengths to keep the peace?

The blood in your veins is blue. Glass is a slow-moving liquid. If you touch a baby bird, its mother will abandon it. Not so fast –- if you learned any of those "facts" in school, what you learned was wrong.

It's hard to imagine life (especially sci-fi life) without teleportation until something goes wrong. Horribly wrong. These five accidents will make any time you've spent in the telepod seem really tame.

The Finding Bigfoot team is in Rhode Island to investigate a blurry video of what some claim is a Bigfoot roaming the countryside. Is there a Bigfoot in Rhode Island?

A local biologist takes the Finding Bigfoot team to the spot where he believes that he saw Bigfoot and explains to them what happened.

Would the people of the world get along better if they spoke the same language? Or would it just be easier for us to hate each other?

You can say goodbye to the seven continents and hello to days that seem infernally long. What else awaits you on a spin-free Earth?

Black holes have serious pull, and they're not afraid to use it. Could one of these skulking bad boys ever arise in our home, sweet (solar system) home?

It's all fun and games when you're on a deserted island. But then the smoke monster shows up, a strange tribe kidnaps some of your fellow survivors and you realize you haven't had a drink of water in a long time. How bad can glugging seawater be?

If the colonists hadn't eked out a victory against the mighty British Empire, what would have been their fate? Would leaders like the beloved George Washington and Thomas Jefferson have been executed?

It's the ultimate gyp as a kid -- having a birthday fall on a day that occurs once every four years. On behalf of cheated leapers everywhere, why are such years necessary?

You may know that the ancient Egyptians used embalming in mummification. But they weren't the first to embalm their dead, nor were they the last. In fact, it's still being done today.

What do you want to happen to your mortal remains after you die? You could have them turned into a diamond, packed into ammo or shot into space. Speaking of which, how does turning back into star stuff work?

Made of plain pine or shaped like a shoe, mourners may inter them, suspend them or set them ablaze. Why do coffins have so many forms and functions?

Blood-sucking vampires and brain-munching zombies tend to hog all the undead credit, but we think ghouls deserve a macabre article all their own. Read it -- if you dare.

Some dragons seem like they'd be fascinating dinner guests, but others might see you as the main course. Here are our top 10 of both types.

Dragons have captured imaginations -- and their fair share of maidens -- across the globe. But are they more than mythological?

The speed of light is like that annoying friend who beats you at every game. What would happen if humans one day surpassed the cosmic speed limit?

Call up your travel agent because we're booking a one-way flight to an exotic, five-star black hole. What are you in store for on this unique journey?

It's one of those fantastic things you may have wished for at one point, like, say peace on Earth, but would a world full of cures be radically different from the one we know, or not so much?

While organizations around the world are fighting to end famine, so far, no one has come up with a game-changer. Why does famine happen in the first place, and what would a hunger-free world be like?

Would we stick flowers in our hair and dance in the street? Or twiddle our thumbs and wonder what to do with all that new free time? Join us as we ponder a world without war.