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Dinosaurs are not extinct

Dinosaurs are not extinct
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Kindergartners will laugh at you if they find out you still believe dinosaurs died out 65 million years ago. They’ll point out the blue jays, pigeons, hummingbirds, and seagulls flying around your neighbourhood with their dinosaur genes. As paleontologist Steve Brusatte, author of the book The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs, told Reader’s Digest, “Today’s birds evolved from dinosaurs, which makes them every bit as much of a dinosaur as T. rex or Triceratops.”

 

Women suspected of being witches were not burned at the stake

Women suspected of being witches were not burned at the stake
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First, no one was burned during the Massachusetts Bay Colony witch scare in 1692. In Europe, convicted witches were sometimes burned, but in England, they were hanged, and that’s the tradition the colonists followed after a group of young girls started having “fits” that the doctor blamed on supernatural afflictions. In all, almost 200 people were accused of being witches; 19 were convicted and hanged. One person was crushed to death under stones. Another myth about the Salem witch trials is that all the accused were women. Five of those executed (including the elderly farmer who was pressed to death) were men; plus, the accusations affected people from all circumstances and social positions.

There are more than three states of matter

There are more than three states of matter
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You may have learned about three—liquid, solid, and gas. Those are the most common states of matter that we find here on Earth, but beyond our atmosphere, there’s a fourth state—plasma—and it might be the most common in the universe. When you add enough energy to an atom, its electrons can get away from its nucleus and react with a different nearby nucleus, creating plasma, which consists of highly charged particles with very high kinetic energy. Gases like neon are goaded into a plasma state by electricity to make glowing signs; stars are basically huge balls of plasma. But that’s not the only extra state of matter: In 1995, scientists created one called the Bose-Einstein condensate, where matter is super-cooled to almost absolute zero, causing molecular motion to practically stop. Nobody knows whether Bose-Einstein condensates exist in nature, but they can be made in a lab. Researchers are also investigating other states of matter, so the number could keep growing, according to Gizmodo.

We either have eight or 13 planets in our solar system

We either have eight or 13 planets in our solar system
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My sixth grade science teacher taught us “Mary’s violet eyes make John stay up nights plenty” (Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Pluto)—but then, in the 1990s, scientists found a doughnut-shaped region of the solar system out beyond Neptune that’s filled with asteroids, comets, and icy objects. They called it the Kuiper Belt and redefined poor little Pluto as a Kuiper Belt Object instead of a planet. While many ex-schoolchildren felt betrayed at the time, Pluto wasn’t the first planet to get demoted—it had already happened to a body called Ceres that orbits between Mars and Jupiter. Ceres was called a planet too when it was first identified in 1801, but over time astronomers realised it was part of an asteroid belt and revoked its planethood. But the story doesn’t end there—both Ceres and Pluto got bumped back up into a new category in 2006 when the International Astronomical Union declared them dwarf planets.

We don’t really know all the planets in our solar system

We don’t really know all the planets in our solar system
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According to NASA, there are three other officially recognised dwarf planets circling our sun (all in the Kuiper Belt, with Pluto) and possibly hundreds more that haven’t been identified yet. And then there’s the mystery of Planet X—so far, it’s only hypothetical, but researchers at Caltech think it could be the size of Neptune and follow an orbit that’s circling the sun way out beyond Pluto. The final tally as of now, according to phys.org, is eight planets and five dwarf planets.

Don’t miss these 13 unsolved mysteries easily explained by science.

Neanderthals may have been as smart as humans

Neanderthals may have been as smart as humans
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New research suggests that Neanderthals were not hulking cavemen who died out because they weren’t as sophisticated as the humans with whom they coexisted and interbred. In fact, they produced cave paintings in Spain about 20,000 years before modern humans arrived in Europe, according to an article in Nature. They also used tools and made jewellery. So why did they go extinct? A 2017 study published in the journal Nature Communications suggests that they might simply have been outnumbered by the waves of Homo sapiens that filtered into their territory from Africa, beginning around 50,000 years ago; two species can’t occupy the same ecological niche without one changing or dying out.

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There isn’t such a thing as being left-brained or right-brained

There isn’t such a thing as being left-brained or right-brained
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I’ve always thought I’m left-brained, because of my analytical and logical nature, but it turns out that no studies have been able to show different areas of brain activity among people with different personality traits. Different parts of the brain definitely have different purposes—we know that from studying people who’ve suffered brain injuries or strokes, according to the Harvard Health Blog. Researchers still think control of language is located on the right side of the brain in most people, for example, and the back of the brain processes visual information.

Can you spot these 25 optical illusions that will make your brain hurt.

Napoleon Bonaparte wasn’t that short

Napoleon Bonaparte wasn’t that short
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He was actually about average height for his time—approximately 5 feet 7 inches—but cartoons published in England depicted him as short, according to a 2016 column by Tristin Hopper in the Canadian newspaper the National Post. When he died, the people present said he measured 5 feet 2 inches, but that was because of a difference between French and British units of measurement. However, he had already been depicted for years as a small, petty, childish person in British cartoons.

You have more than five senses

You have more than five senses
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The big five—touch, taste, smell, sight, and hearing—are our most basic senses, but we’re taking in information through a wealth of other mechanisms. Proprioception tells us where our bodies are in space, allowing us to stay balanced, according to Live Science. Kinesthetic receptors detect stretching in muscles and tendons, which helps us keep track of our various body parts. We also have receptors to keep track of how much oxygen is flowing through our arteries.

Find out 30 random trivia facts that might one day come in handy.

A swallowed piece of gum doesn’t take seven years to digest

A swallowed piece of gum doesn’t take seven years to digest
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Nobody knows where this myth came from, but it’s been passed along through generations of school-aged kids gulping down their gum to avoid getting busted chewing it in class. Paediatric gastroenterologist named David Milov told Scientific American that it’s definitely not true—although he does state that he occasionally comes across a hunk of chewed gum in the digestive tract during colonoscopies or endoscopies. But “usually it’s not something that’s any more than a week old.” Most gum passes right through the digestive system, so this stomach-churning myth is one of the lies you were told as a kid that you still believe.

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