35 Science 'Facts' That Are Totally Wrong

Hollywood, friends, and family have perpetuated these 35 science myths for years. But it’s time to set the record straight.

Is there fire in space?

Does tequila really come with a hallucinogenic worm?

Can you overdose on Vitamin C?

The answers to these questions will surprise you.

For this list, we used Wikipedia’s great list of “Common Misconceptions”, this great video from Mental Floss, and our brains. You can find the source of our facts under the images.

Have some we missed? Send them along to Science (at) businessinsider.com.

Robert Ferris contributed to an earlier version of this post.

The beautiful rings of Saturn are not solid bands. The rings are comprised of individual dust and ice particles that range in size from microscopic to many feet long.

Contrary to what you learned in grad school, there are four states of matter, not three. Solid, liquid, gas, and plasma are the four states of matter you see everyday.

Searing meat does not keep it moist. Searing will create a nice brown crust that is rich in flavour and can actually remove moisture.

The Hollywood Blockbuster 'The Core' would have you believe that Earth's center is molten liquid. In fact, Earth's core is a dense sphere of nickel and iron with a diameter of about 700 miles.

Surprise: Killer whales are more closely related to dolphins than other whales.

Although most of us have only experienced gravity in the downward direction, gravity is not a downward force. Simply put, gravity sucks! And it sucks in all directions and dimensions.

Monosodium glutamate (MSG) is a flavour enhancer in many foods and is safe to ingest. MSG is often associated with Chinese Restaurant Syndrome which describes a series of undesirable side effects like numbness at the back of the neck and a general sense of weakness. Eating to excess is more likely to cause these symptoms than consuming MSG.

Crystals of MSG

(SOURCE: Reactions)

Unlike the futuristic Pixar film Wall-E implies, Twinkies do not have an infinite shelf life. It's actually about 45 days.

Back in the day, sailors used the north star, Polaris, for navigation not because of its brightness but because it is the only star that does not appear to move over night. Polaris is not a single star, but is a triple-star system. None of these stars are even in the top 10 of the brightest stars in our night sky.

Contrary to popular belief, house flies do not have a life span of 24 hours. So, if you think it's better to wait for your uninvited house mate to die instead of chasing it down, think again. The common house fly can live for up to a month!

One dog year is not equivalent to seven human years. Dogs age most quickly during the first two years and after that it greatly depends on the dog's breed. For some dog breeds, one year is equivalent to a 14-year-old human.

Tequila and mezcal shouldn't come with worm at the bottom. Only certain types of mezcals, another type of alcohol made from the agave plant, like tequila, contain the worm -- and it's actually an indication of low-quality alcohol or a marketing trick. The worm is a moth larva and its presence indicates infestation.

Gun silencers cannot muffle the sound of an exploding weapon to a whisper. While it does work to muffle the weapon, the result is about as loud as a police siren, which is still one hundred times less loud than the gun without a silencer.

A gun silencer used in 'No Country For Old Men.'

(SOURCE: Today I Found Out)

Being 'blind as a bat' means not being blind at all. While many use echolocation to navigate, all of them can see.

Black holes are not actually the colour black. They look black when we observe them because they emit no form of visible light. One of the only ways we know black holes exist is because of the gravitational pull they have on stars that otherwise appear to be orbiting empty space.

The idea that T-rex dinosaurs never used their baby forearms for anything isn't true. Research suggests that the males used their arms to pin down a fellow female during mating.

Although it is the closest planet to our sun, Mercury is not the hottest planet in the Solar System. With an average surface temperature of 864 degrees, Venus can melt lead and is the hottest planet in our Solar System.

There's a common misconception that Albert Einstein was a terribly student in grad school and even failed mathematics. On the contrary, Einstein once said, 'Before I was fifteen I had mastered differential and integral calculus.'

Don't worry about waking a sleep walker. They will be fine and you might even save them from injuring themself by tripping over something while sleepwalking.

Ostriches do not stick their heads in the sand when threatened. Actually they don't bury their heads at all. When threatened, ostriches flop on the ground and play dead.

Contrary to countless sci-fi movie endings, there is no fire in outer space. Fire needs oxygen to exist, and there is no oxygen in space. Below is the ending of Star Trek III Destruction of the USS Enterprise.

Car tires do not protect you from getting electrocuted if your car is struck by lightning. It's actually your car's metal frame that conducts the electricity straight to the ground.

Old tires rest near the abandoned Packard Automotive Plant December 13, 2013 in Detroit, Michigan.

(SOURCE: Weather Imagery)

Unless you're one of the 1% of Americans who suffer from Celiac disease, gluten probably won't have a negative effect on you. So go ahead and eat that bagel because studies show that you're going to get bloating and gas regardless of your gluten-free diet.

Sunflower heads tend to face a certain direction and the myth is that they track the Sun as it moves across the sky throughout the day. Although sunflower heads are fixed, their buds do, indeed, track the sun before they bloom and the resulting direction the heads face is a result of this behaviour.

Daddy longlegs spiders can, in fact, pierce human skin with their small mouths. But don't worry, they also are not the most venomous spider in the world and the small amount of venom they carry will cause only a mild burning sensation for a few seconds and nothing more.

Macintosh computers are not immune to viruses. You can find a list of 'The Ten Most Dangerous Mac Viruses' on securitywatch.pcmag.com. About 80% of the computer industry is ruled by Windows, so hackers are merely attacking the majority.

Many interrogators would like to believe that truth serum, like amytal sodium, inhibits their subject's ability to lie, but that's simply not the case. Truth serum creates a similar effect to being drunk, which might loosen your tongue but does not make you incapable of lying.

Radiation is often associated with nuclear radiation, creating the misconception that all radiation is bad for you. Light is a form of radiation as well as microwave radiation that cooks your frozen dinners. There is a wide range for radiation and only the highest energy radiation is harmful to human tissue.

An employee looks at equipment in a new facility at a nuclear waste disposal plant in the town of Fokino in Russia's far-eastern Primorsky region June 24, 2014.


Seasons on Earth are the result of Earth's axial tilt and not Earth's distance from he Sun. If you think about it, Australian winter happens during North America's summer and there is no way that could happen if seasons depended on our distance from the sun.

Axial tilt.


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