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Fact or fiction?

Fact or fiction?
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Science is hard enough to understand, especially when there are so many “facts” floating around that aren’t actually true. You’ve probably heard more than half of the facts below. Here’s the real science behind them.

To help your brain grow even more, here are some ‘did you know’ facts that most people don’t know.

Myth: Water conducts electricity

Myth: Water conducts electricity
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While this is a science myth, it doesn’t mean you should bring your toaster in the bath with you. The reason you shouldn’t swim in a lightning storm doesn’t have to do with the water itself. Pure water is actually an insulator, which means it doesn’t conduct electricity. The danger comes from the minerals and chemicals in it called ions, which have an electric charge. While pure water is theoretically safe around electricity, it’s nearly impossible to find it in the real world because even distilled water has ions.

Check out these other 51 “fun facts” that are total lies.

Myth: Blood is blue in your body

Myth: Blood is blue in your body
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A widely shared myth is that blood is blue until it is exposed to air or replenishes its oxygen. Because veins are a greenish blue, that theory sounds reasonable enough. But the fact is, human blood looks the same in your body as outside: red. That hue is brighter when it’s oxygen-rich and darker when it needs that oxygen replenished, but it’s red all the same. The tissue covering your veins affects how the light is absorbed and scattered, which is why the blood circulating your body looks blue.

Here are 20 more obscure facts you never knew about your body. 

Myth: Dinosaurs were scaly beasts

Myth: Dinosaurs were scaly beasts
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The giant, scaly lizards you see in Jurassic Park probably don’t look that close to what actual dinosaurs looked like. While scientists are still debating what the oldest and biggest species were covered with, one thing is for sure: At least some had feathers. Velociraptor arm fossils have bumps that look just like the ones keeping modern birds’ wings in place, and bones of a Siberian species discovered in 2014 were surrounded with imprints of feathers. While some scientists argue larger species like the tyrannosaurus rex didn’t need big feathers, others theorise that they had at least some form of light feathering

You’ll think that these 67 mind-blowing facts are made up (but they aren’t).

Myth: Humans only use 10 percent of their brains

Myth: Humans only use 10 percent of their brains
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The idea of unlocking hidden brain power might make a compelling storyline for a movie, but it simply wouldn’t happen in real life. One fact playing into the myth is that 90 percent of brain cells are “white matter” that help neurons survive, and only ten percent is the “grey matter” of neurons in charge of thinking. But that white matter could never be used for brain power, so claiming 90 percent of our brain is wasted is like saying you waste peanuts when you throw out the shells. Any fMRI scan will show you that even saying a few words lights up way more than ten percent of your brain. Scientists haven’t uncovered any area of the brain (much less 90 percent) that doesn’t affect thought, movement or emotion in some capacity.

These 30 facts about your brain will blow your mind. 

Myth: The Great Wall of China is the only man-made structure you can see from the moon

Myth: The Great Wall of China is the only man-made structure you can see from the moon
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Interestingly, this myth has been around at least since 1932, when a Ripley’s Believe it or Not! cartoon deemed the Great Wall of China is “the mightiest work of man – the only one that would be visible to the human eye from the moon.” Of course, that was almost 30 years before a machine would touch down on the moon, so the claim was entirely unfounded. Astronauts have now confirmed that even the Great Wall actually can’t be seen from space, except at low altitudes. Even at those (relatively) low heights, it’s actually easier to see roads and plane runways, whose colours don’t blend into the ground like the Great Wall’s do.

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Myth: Chameleons change colour to match their surroundings

Myth: Chameleons change colour to match their surroundings
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Yes, chameleons can change colour by stretching and relaxing cells that contain crystals, which affects how the light is reflected. They can’t change into any colour to match their surroundings, though, and their colour changes don’t have much to do with camouflage. Instead, chameleons use the crystals mainly for communication (dark colours signal aggression, like when a female doesn’t want to mate), but also temperature control (lighter colours reflect the heat). Those changes aren’t directly used for camouflage, though – just the opposite, in fact. The dull brown and green “resting colours” of chameleons blend in with their surroundings until they switch it up.

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Myth: Neanderthals were a less evolved human ancestor

Myth: Neanderthals were a less evolved human ancestor
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First of all, let’s get one thing straight: Neanderthals aren’t ancestors to modern humans. The two species lived at the same time, mostly in different areas of the globe. When the species did cross paths, there’s even evidence that they interbred. But evidence doesn’t suggest they were cognitively inferior to humans. Fossils show Neanderthals made tools, used fire, cleaned their teeth, ate medicinal plants, buried their dead and maybe even cared for their sick and wounded. Scientists no longer think Homo sapiens wiped out their Neanderthal cousins. Neanderthals likely were already dying out as the climate changed, while modern humans’ trade networks, diverse diets and innovative tools helped them survive.

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Myth: Earth is the only planet with water

Myth: Earth is the only planet with water
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Of course, we have yet to find any intelligent life living off interstellar water, but H2O isn’t unique to Earth. Dark streaks that change on Mars suggest there isn’t just ice on the Red Planet – liquid salt water likely flows on it. What’s more, NASA discovered that beneath a layer of ice on Jupiter’s moon Europa, there’s an ocean containing twice as much water as we have on Earth. Could faraway planets with water sustain intelligent life? Only time will tell.

Here are some more crazy facts about the earth you never learned in school.

Myth: It takes seven years to digest chewing gum

Myth: It takes seven years to digest chewing gum
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Don’t freak out if you can’t find a bin and need to swallow your gum. The truth is that your body can’t digest gum, not even in seven years. That doesn’t mean it sticks inside your system, though. It will pass through your digestive system without being broken down, then come out in the bathroom like anything else. If kids swallow too much, the gum could block their intestines, but that’s extremely rare.

Here are some more old wives’ tales you should stop believing. 

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Reader’s Digest Magazine delayed due to coronavirus
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