Nothing can travel faster than light – FALSE!
Since Einstein, we know that nothing goes faster than the speed of light – around 300,000 km per second. But this is only true in a vacuum, or almost as in space. Under the right circumstances, your neighbor’s turtle can overtake the light. It all depends on the medium.
When light shines through glass or water, it slows down by about a third. It’s still too fast to catch. But use even more exotic materials and you can reduce the speed of light to the rhythm of walking. Recently, scientists have even managed to turn off the light completely and then release it later. Just about anything can move faster than light, as long as you have a world-class lab to cut its heels off.
Sputnik was the first man-made object in space – FALSE!
Sputnik 1, launched by the Soviet Union on October 4, 1957, changed the world. It circled the globe for three months, as the first man-made object to enter orbit. But it was not the first to reach space. Hundreds of previous rockets had fired well beyond the recognized limit, only to immediately fall back to Earth on a ballistic trajectory. These were the German V-2 missiles, which rained devastation on England, France and Belgium during the last years of World War II. It was not a good start to the conquest of space.
Read more amazing facts:
Glass is a liquid – FALSE!
Stroll through an old building with a knowledgeable friend, and they are sure to refer you to old windows. “See how thicker the glass is at the bottom?” », They will say. “It’s because glass is a liquid, not a solid. Over the centuries, gravity has caused the glass to sink downwards ”. Sounds convincing, right? It is in fact an urban myth.
Old glass is thicker at the bottom because it was made that way. The first glass technologies could only produce small panes of varying thickness and transparency. It made sense to install these imperfect panels so that the heaviest edges were at the bottom. This is the reason why old windows seem thicker at the base.
Fish were the first animals to leave the oceans – FALSE!
We’ve all seen the illustrations. Millions of years ago, a particularly brave fish learned to venture on land for short periods. Over time, his species have spent longer and longer stays on land. Gradually, the gills gave way to the lungs to produce amphibians first, then reptiles, birds and mammals. Then, we. But this adventurous fish was not a true pioneer. The land was already teeming with life, including insects, centipedes, plants and fungi. This fact is often overlooked in a human-centered life story.
Your body is entirely yours – FALSE!
Here is a scary thought. About half of the cells in your body are non-human. Rogue agents are bacteria, fungi and archaea. Your body is full of these tiny intruders. Between 500 and 1,000 species have taken up residence in your folds, ducts, shutters and rooms, and they are each present in the billions. Even your human cells are not entirely yours. Many mothers store their baby’s cells in a process known as microchimerism. These cells function and divide alongside the mother’s native cells, while remaining genetically distinct.
These leftovers can be passed on to other babies and even persist into the next generation. Your grandmother’s cells might hang around in your abdomen; a tincture from your uncle can sequester in your spleen.
Everything you know about science is wrong by Matt Brown is out now (Batsford, £ 9.99)