Friday, March 12, 2010

Just for Fun: Simple Science Facts

Back to basics.

[Guest post adapted from 50 Simple Science Facts Everyone Should Know (But Doesn’t), from the folks at X-Ray Technician Schools.]

While obviously not everyone remains ignorant of the realities behind the myths, it is the sad truth that many of the following facts remain entirely obscured in the common consciousness – victims of myth and misconception in spite of reliable evidence to the contrary:

--Eating poppy seeds will not always result in a failed drug test. : The common myth about eating poppy seeds can lead to failing a drug test has a solid foundation in reality, as heroin, morphine, codeine, and other opiates are created from the plants. But Indiana University sheds some light on the reality of the situation, pointing out that only the seeds of opiate poppies cause false positives. For those who have eaten the offending poppyseeds, however, there are ways to determine whether or not the opiate traces come from narcotics or a harmless bagel.

--Do not mix ammonia and bleach together. : While death does not generally factor into the equation, blending ammonia and bleach together releases extremely harmful chlorine and other noxious gases that can cause serious damages to the lungs and brain – if not outright kill, of course. The State of New Jersey provides more details on using these cleansers safely.

--Acid into water, never water into acid. : The reliable mnemonic relating the procedure to A&W Root Beer helps students and chemists alike remember that the opposite effect may result in painful or disfiguring chemical burns. University of Oregon has more information on this and other lab safety tips.

--What goes up, must come down. : Anyone shooting a bullet or other dangerous projectile straight into the air ought to think towards one major aspect of Newton’s Universal Law of Gravitation, as explained by the University of Tennessee at Knoxville.

--Lightning can actually strike the same place twice. : Information on lightning striking the same location multiple times abounds online, but no research acts as the most compelling evidence to the same extent as NASA’s exhaustive testing of the myth at hand. Not only can it hit a target more than once, but the likelihood of it happening ended up being 45% higher than anticipated.

--Shaving does not cause thicker, darker hair. : Mayo Clinic weighs in on the myth that shaving directly causes hair to grow back thicker and darker, providing a much-needed dose of reality to a concerned populace. Lawrence E. Gibson, M.D. sheds light on how genetics determine hair structure and the ways in which the perception of coarser, darker strands initially came into play.

--The “5 second rule” is a fallacy. : Popular schoolyard mantras dictate that any food dropped on the floor fails to pick up microbes within the first 5 seconds. Paul Dawson, a food scientist at Clemson University, discovered that bacteria climbs onto food particles immediately upon contact and thus dispelled this eerily common myth.

--There is actually gravity in space. : Northwestern University lays to rest the general claim of zero gravity in outer space by explaining how its influence relates to distance. Every entity in the universe is actually subjected to some degree of gravitational pull, no matter its location.

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