What do you think is most likely to happen to you: being struck by lightning or crushed under an asteroid? This is surprising, but the probability of the second event is almost twice as high as that of the first. In their book on general ignorance, Stephen Fry, John Lloyd and John Mitchinson claim that lightning strikes the Earth 17 million times a day, which equates to 200 lightning strikes per second. However, the probability of dying electrocuted is 1 in 10 million, which is equivalent to being bitten by a viper!
We do not believe that ignorance makes us happy, so we want our readers to be aware of the most recent scientific facts and findings.
1. Chameleons do not change color depending on their environment.
This could be useful in many cases, since chameleons are not armed to defend against anyone who wants to attack them, but this myth is not true. Although this belief is extremely popular, its color actually depends entirely on its emotional state. And if it is the same as the decor in which it is, it is only pure coincidence.
A chameleon changes color when it is scared, when it is touched or when it has just defeated an opponent during a fight. The temperature, the light and the presence of a female can also change its appearance. It is interesting to note that the skin of this reptile is endowed with several layers of special cells called chromatophores, and that each of them has its own color pigments. The change in the relationship between these membranes means that the skin reflects different types of light, making this little animal look like a real living mirror ball.
By the way, the word “chameleon” means “earth lion” in Greek.
2. The blue whale is not the largest living creature on Earth.
While it is gigantic, it is not the largest living being that people our world. Indeed, this title returns to a mushroom, and its name is Armillaria ostoyae, or Humongous Fungus.
This record-sized honey fungus has been grown in the Malheur National Forest in Oregon, USA for 2,000 to 8,000 years (its age can not be accurately estimated). It occupies an area of 880 hectares, and most of it is hidden from the human eye. It spreads underground in the form of a massive white mycelium. It covers the roots of trees, feeds on them and ends up killing them. From time to time, it sprouts from the ground and begins to grow to the surface, disguising itself as a small golden mushroom, without ever revealing its true size as a giant.
3. Cockroaches would not survive a nuclear war.
Many people tend to think cockroaches are indestructible. Of course, it’s true that they have been around for a lot longer than humans (they appeared about 280 million years ago), and it’s very difficult to eliminate them when they invade our homes. Moreover, they can live a long time without a head. But a scientific experiment in 1959 showed that roaches would be among the first insects to die in the event of a nuclear disaster.
Two scientists, Wharton and Wharton, experimented by inflicting different levels of radiation to a wide variety of insects. In the end, they concluded that the lethal dose for humans is 1,000 rad, for a cockroach this figure is 20,000 rad, and for a parasitic wasp it is 180,000 rad! But the big “winner” is a tiny bacterium, Deinococcus durans, that can withstand an incredibly high dose of radiation: 1.5 million rads, and that number is doubled if the bacteria is frozen!
4. Eating a lot of carrots does not improve your sight.
Carrots are a good source of vitamin A, the deficiency of which causes night blindness, a condition that makes your eyes adapt very slowly to darkness. The easiest way to treat this condition is actually to increase your intake of this vitamin, which is found in large quantities in carotene. Carrots contain this element, but you should know that apricots, blueberries, spinach and other dark leafy vegetables contain even more!
However, improving your vision and correcting night blindness are two completely different things. Eating too much carrots will only give your skin an orange hue, but it will not help you see better in the dark. This myth emerged during the Second World War, when the British government created a rumor that Captain John Cunningham (better known as the Eye of the Lynx), of 604 Squadron, fought alone during the night thanks to its increased night vision, resulting from a high consumption of these vegetables. In fact, this story was only propaganda. The captain was testing a top secret radar at the time and his incredible vision had nothing to do with the carrots he was consuming.
5. The recommended sleep time is less than 8 hours.
In 2004, Professor Daniel Kripke published an article in which he states that people who sleep eight hours a night die younger than those who rest six or seven hours. Their study lasted six years and involved 1.1 million participants. People who slept less than eight hours (but not less than four hours) remained alive until the end of the survey.
So, not having one’s eight hours of daily sleep is not as bad as you think. However, it is important to make sure that you do not deprive your body of rest either.
6. Humans have more than five senses.
We are all familiar with our five senses, sight, smell, touch, taste, and hearing, which Aristotle mentioned centuries ago. But according to scientists, humans have at least four other meanings:
Thermoception: sensation of heat (or lack thereof) on the skin.
Equilibrioception: sense of balance and agility, guaranteed by cavities filled with fluid in the inner ear.
Nociception: sensation of pain felt by the skin, joints and organs.
Proprioception: body awareness. We know where the parts of our body are without seeing or feeling them.
7. The water is not transparent, it has a color.
People are used to believing that the water is clear and transparent, and that the reason why seas and oceans are blue is a reflection of the sky. Yet this vital liquid is really of this color. It can be seen that it has a very light blue hue if one looks inside a deep hole in the snow, in thick ice or in a frozen waterfall.
The reflection of the sky does play an important role, but it is also due to the light that comes from below. Large bodies of water, such as seas and oceans, reflect and scatter light. This is why we can notice a wide variety of colors when we are at sea.
8. L’oxygène n’est pas la substance la plus répandue dans le monde.
If you wonder what’s so special about this seemingly ordinary rock, you’re not the only one. It is a mineral of calcium oxide and titanium, called perovskite. It represents almost half of the total mass of our planet. Scientists believe that the Earth’s mantle is made up of this element, but this hypothesis has not yet been proven.
This material can conduct electricity at normal temperatures without resistance and could operate “floating” trains.
9. The cold is not so commonplace.
The statistics are alarming, as they indicate that depression, one of the most prevalent diseases in the world, is far more common than colds. Ten years ago, it was expected that the disease would become widespread in 2020, but unfortunately it spread much faster than expected.
While people tend to see a doctor at the first sign of a cold, most people delay the treatment of signs of mental illness for as long as possible. Many people who suffer from depression think that their sadness is something they should hide from others. They may even feel embarrassed about being depressed while others do not suffer from this illness.
Our common task as a society is to promote awareness and encourage people with this disease to seek professional help.
We all heard this myth, and we were all terribly afraid of accidentally swallowing a chewing gum when we were little, lest it remain for years “stuck” to our stomachs. In fact, the digestion of this product is not much more difficult than that of a rare meat or a piece of cake.
The acids, enzymes, juices and gastric movements inside the stomach work very well together to dissolve the chewing gum. Since its chemicals do not dissolve completely, leftovers leave the body in the same way as all other foods. And as everyone knows, this process does not take seven years!
Knowledge is power, and it is always interesting to discover that some things are far removed from popular beliefs. As soon as we have elucidated new mysteries, we will not fail to share them with you!