Posts filed under ‘Despite Popular Belief’

The Sun is Green

By Chad Upton

I know, the sun doesn’t look green. But, keep in mind the sky looks blue and we know it’s not really blue. The sky appears blue for the same reason some people’s eyes look blue – an optical illusion known as the Tyndall effect.

sun is green

When scientists measure the wavelength (color) of the sun, the peak output is in the transition area between blue and green (about 500 nanometers). So, technically, the sun is green-blue. But, why doesn’t it look green? (more…)

May 17, 2013 at 2:00 am 3 comments

You Cannot See the Great Wall of China from Space

By Chad Upton | Editor

Before we could even go to space, the myth was the great wall is visible from the moon. Ever since we got to space, astronauts have been looking for it.

GreatWallOfChina

Mathematically, the wall would have to be at least 70 miles (110 km) wide to be seen from the moon with unaided eyes. Since the wall has a maximum width of 30 ft (9.1 m), this is easily dismissed as myth. The moon legend came from a 1754 letter by William Stukeley; his remarks on the massive size of the wall could have been literary hyperbole. But, some people took it literally.

In his defense, there have been a few claims that the great wall can be seen from low earth orbit — as little as 100 miles (160 km). A number of astronauts have claimed they have seen it. Even the European Space Agency claimed it was visible and published a picture. A week later they issued a press release indicating it was actually a river and not the Great Wall of China.

NASA claims it, “generally isn’t [visible], at least to the unaided eye.” Mathematically, it’s the same answer, unless you have 20/3 or better vision. But, according to the Journal of Optometry, “Not even the best of human eyes at a simple glance could see the Great Wall of China from Space.” That’s because the anatomy of the eye limits vision to an acuity no greater than 20/9. So, 20/3 is impossible.

The gaza pyramids on the other hand are about 22 times wider than the Great Wall of China; they are visible from low earth orbit.

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Photo: Keith Roper (cc)

Sources: wikipedia (Great Wall of China), Journal of Optometry, NASA

April 4, 2013 at 2:00 am 1 comment

Military Contractors Built Flying Saucers

By Chad Upton | Editor

I’ve been writing Broken Secrets for a little over 3 years and UFOs are something I wanted to cover at some point. It’s a difficult subject; there’s so much information, mostly poor or difficult to confirm information and little that seems reliable and interesting. But there are also some little gems that are compelling and enlightening.

cutaway

A UFO is simply an Unidentified Flying Object. It doesn’t necessarily mean it’s alien — just that you’re not going to find someone who knows what it is or be willing identify it if they are one of the few who may know.

In May of 2011, the public got an unplanned unveiling of the US Military’s “Stealth Hawk” Helicopter when it was damaged during the raid on Osama Bin Laden’s compound in Pakistan. Technically, it’s still a UFO since we don’t know exactly what it is — educated guesses are that it is a heavily modified Sikorsky MH-60M Black Hawk. (more…)

January 16, 2013 at 2:00 am 5 comments

We Don’t Lose Most of Our Heat Through Our Heads

By Chad Upton | Editor

Winter hat, stocking cap, beanie or toque; whatever you call it, it keeps your head warm. But, it doesn’t necessarily keep you warm.

An old US Army survival manual suggested wearing a hat since “40 to 45 percent of body heat” is lost through your head. This recommendation is thought to have come from a military experiment over 60 years ago when participants were dressed from neck to toe in Arctic clothing, but no headwear. Over time, this has snowballed into “most” heat is lost through our heads. (more…)

November 27, 2012 at 2:00 am 1 comment

Point Blank Range Can Be Over 100 Yards

By Chad Upton | Editor

The phrase, “point blank range” is frequently used in tv shows and news reports to indicate a shot was fired within an short range (usually a few yards or meters).

While that usage is accurate, the phrase is rarely used to describe shots from further away that are still point blank range.

You see, Point Blank Range simply means: a distance at which the shooter does not need to compensate for gravity by adjusting the elevation of their weapon.

Due to the velocity of the projectiles, some weapons and ammunition have a point blank range of over 100 yards (91m). Due to recoil, some cannons can shoot over 1000 yards without elevation compensation; therefore they have a point blank range of over 1000 yards (914m).

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Photo: calflier001 (cc)

Source: point blank range

September 25, 2012 at 2:00 am 4 comments

Sugar Does Not Make Children Hyper

By Chad Upton | Editor

I’ve only been a dad for a few weeks, so I can’t provide any anecdotal evidence on this one. Thankfully, a much more scientific source is available. The British Medical Journal has published a study that concludes: sugar does not make children hyperactive.

Of course, we’ve all heard this myth. There are even some parents who give their kids pixie stix, hoping it will give them more energy: (more…)

May 7, 2012 at 7:00 pm 10 comments

The SR-71 Blackbird is Actually Dark Blue

By Chad Upton | Editor

I saw the Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird at an air-show on the west coast in 1986. When the announcer introduced the jet, he indicated the plane had left New York about an hour earlier. A similar flight would take more than 5 hours on a commercial jet, but the SR-71 Blackbird is capable of traveling at over 2,200 mph (3530 km/h). As a kid and now as an adult, this blows my mind.

Although it was retired in 1998, it still holds the record for fastest jet powered aircraft, which it achieved in 1976. It was so fast that the standard procedure for missile defense was to simply accelerate and outrun the missile. (more…)

March 22, 2012 at 2:00 am 1 comment

Carrots Do Not Improve Eyesight

By Chad Upton | Editor

Like many kids, I didn’t like vegetables — especially carrots and broccoli. Adults frequently told me that carrots would improve my eyesight, so that seemed like a good reason to try liking them.

There was one person who didn’t tell me this, he actually told me the opposite. My grand father overheard somebody tell me that carrots would improve my eyesight and he let me in on a little secret — it was all a big lie. Carrots do not improve your eyesight.

Sure, carrots and many other foods do contain beta-carotene, which metabolizes into Vitamin A and everyone agrees that is essential for maintaining eye health, but it does not improve it. If you are not consuming enough vitamin A, any number of sources could help restore your vitamin A supply. Carrots themselves are not unique or magical in this way. In fact, carrots have less beta-carotene per 200 calorie serving than red peppers, kale and lettuce.

If lettuce, kale and red pepper have more beta-carotene than carrots, why do carrots get all the eyesight credit?

(more…)

October 17, 2011 at 2:00 am 15 comments

Barefoot Running is Better for Joints Than Running in Shoes

By Chad Upton | Editor

Some people think these shoes look weird:

But, they just look like feet. So, maybe it’s our shoe stressed feet that look weird. If you look at your toes, they’re not spread out like your fingers. Most people’s toes are squished together in the shape of a shoe, even when they’re not in shoes.

That’s weird.

I never really thought about it much, until I saw a pair of these shoes. They’re called “Five Fingers” and they’re made by a company called Vibram. They’re a bit pricey, so you may also want to look at Fila’s similar and slightly cheaper version called “Skele-toes.” This style of footwear are to shoes what winter gloves are to mittens.

These shoes and the growing category of “minimalist running shoes” are a hot trend in running circles right now. There are many reasons why, but the ten most convincing reasons are on the floor in front of you.

We’ve been cramming our feet into unnatural shoes since childhood, but what would our feet look like if we had never worn shoes? Probably something like this:

These feet actually look weird too; we’re used to seeing feet that are shaped like shoes.

The difference is glaring. Look at the straight black line in the first photo, it stretches from the big toe, across the ball of the foot to the heel. You can’t draw a straight line on the second photo that aligns these three important parts of your feet.

Cramping your foot’s style is not cool because that can lead to cramps and strains and lots of heel pains. If you’ve ever had foot pain or discomfort, you may think your shoes don’t have enough cushioning or that your arches have too much or too little support. While there are exceptions, these problems are generally myths perpetuated by the shoe industry that simply wants you to buy new shoes often.

Many of the best runners in the world, who consistently win marathons, run without any shoes at all. Do they have bad feet? No, they have really strong feet. They also have better knees and hips than runners who use thick padded running shoes. One medical study compared running in shoes to barefoot and fount that barefoot running demonstrated 38% lower knee torque and 54% less internal hip rotation torque. This means that running barefoot provides a much more natural motion for your joints. This notion is pretty surprising the first time you hear it, but there are a mountain of medical studies to support it.

Should you throw away your super spongy running shoes and go barefoot tomorrow? Probably not. Just like running in shoes, you need some education to do it the best way possible. Check your area for a local running club where you can learn, or look for some online videos on the subject. I’ve also got some great sources listed below which would make a good starting point.

Also, running on soft shoes might not be a good idea but research shows that running on soft surfaces is better than hard surfaces. Even though grass and dirt may have rocks and pits, these actually work to strengthen your ankles over time. That said, you may also want to consider the type of floors you have at home — you may even want to get something like soft rubber floors.

PS – Neil posted a funny story at 1000awesomethings.com about my first outdoor run earlier this year.

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Sources: PM&RShoe Myths, Nature.com, CMAJ.ca, bjsportmed.com

October 6, 2011 at 2:00 am 7 comments

Bumblebee Flight is Not Scientifically Impossible

By Terry D. Johnson

The myth that bumblebee flight is scientifically impossible persists today. Even some presidential hopefuls believe it. Don’t be fooled. This tale’s been floating around since the 1930s, back when aerodynamics was emerging from a science.

Various luminaries in the field of fluid dynamics have been accused of popularizing the idea, which seems to have originated in a collaboration between French entomologist Antoine Magnan and his assistant, the mathematician André Sainte-Laguë. Sainte-Laguë had done a primitive calculation on the aerodynamics of bumblebee flight, assuming that the wings we perfectly smooth and flat. They also ignored more complicated aerodynamics in favor of a simpler model.

These assumptions made the calculation easier…and the answer wrong. Magnan himself wrote: “One shouldn’t be surprised that the results of the calculations don’t square with reality.” That didn’t stop the myth from achieving enough lift to take off.

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Source: Wikipedia, Naturenet

Image: Wikimedia (gnu)

August 9, 2011 at 2:00 am 4 comments

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