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.

Would a world with ample water for all mean less disease? Fewer wars? Globally improved health and finances? Sip along with us as we wonder what if.

It's a crazy thought, but what if cancer didn't exist? And malaria, schizophrenia and every other illness that disrupts our normal functioning? Come along as we investigate what such a world might look like.

Unless you've been living under a rock (one not appearing on Google Maps’ Street View), you're probably intimately familiar with the behemoth and its many services. But what would the world look like if this powerhouse company had never existed?

Before leaving work, you'll need to check the traffic report. Lately, a disruptive T. rex has meant some adjustments to your commute. What other changes would be in store if dinos roamed the Earth?

Would you still be inclined to step up to the altar with your partner for life? Would you plod along on the same career path? You might not if we realize the dream of ageless, healthy human life.

Matches work by combining flammable chemicals with heat from friction. Learn whether you can light a match with sandpaper in this article.

Decapitation is a surefire way to deliver a quick and painless death, right? In actuality, an increasingly large body of historical and scientific evidence suggests that beheading doesn't, in fact, deliver instant death.

Wood, grass and food scraps undergo a process known as biodegradation when they're buried. They're transformed by bacteria in the soil into other useful compounds, but those same bacteria typically turn up their noses at plastic. Luckily, that's not the end of the story.

Imagine waking up one morning to find yourself unable to get to work due to a dead car battery. You won't have to do that if you have a solar car battery charger -- but how well do they really work?

One of the most useful methods of lab research for automobiles uses driving simulators, which create virtual realities that imitate real-life driving situations.

Who says you can't teach an old technology new tricks? Just because it was invented long ago, that doesn't mean it's useless today. Which programs are reinventing the wheel?

Plastics that aren't recycled tend to hang around our planet like houseguests who have worn out their welcome. Can biodegradable plastics, which may break down in fewer than 90 days, change that scenario?

A simple doll can't tell a researcher whether a car crash resulted in a broken bone, a cracked rib cage or skin abrasions. Crash test dummies, on the other hand, are sophisticated enough to simulate such injuries.

You have to be careful when you drive at night. It’s hard to see when all you have to guide you are a pair of headlights. To make matters worse, using your high beams improperly can cause a crash. Fortunately, new technology has made them safer.

Incubators can save the lives of premature babies, but the devices are expensive and people in developing countries may not be able to afford them. One organization has found a way to help by repurposing old cars.

People in remote areas can't just connect to the Internet anytime they want. To solve that problem, United Villages has outfitted a number of buses with WiFi equipment. But there's a catch -- it's not a direct connection.

After awhile, all that holiday eating starts to feel gluttonous and wasteful. But it doesn't have to be. Maybe you can't change the world all by yourself, but there are a few ways you can make your holiday food consumption a bit gentler on the planet.

The hybrid car may be the savior of the automobile industry, but its production processes have come under fire of late. The car may be green, but what about the way the car actually gets made?

High material costs and relatively low efficiency have held solar energy back as an alternative to fossil fuels. But that hasn't stopped people from finding some practical everyday applications for solar panels.

Even though they've come down in price, solar panels are still expensive and somewhat inefficient. And then there are cloudy days. Can solar panels ever replace fossil fuels for our everyday needs?

When you hear about solar-powered transportation, you may think of slow-moving single-person vehicles running in experiments. But solar cars have evolved, and can reach much faster speeds than in those old trials.

As most of us know, our cars can become filthy, germy places unless we clean them regularly -- and they could be making us sick. But what about the air coming in through the vents? How can we make sure it's clean?

To anyone familiar with the solar panels of the past, the possibility that a tarp could turn solar energy into electricity is pretty amazing. Could your next high-tech tent provide shelter and energy?

When big spills hit our environment, scientists think the best sponge is the one made out of aerogel, a substance that's a cross between a slice of Jell-O and a brick of smoke. Why are aerogels so good at cleaning up some of our worst messes?

Let's assume that it's possible to create a complete loop in time travel -- that time travelers could travel into the past and then return to the future (or vice versa). What could we do with our time machine, and how would time travel affect our lives?