When you’re trying to teach dozens of students the finer points of history and science, sometimes it’s just easier to provide a simpler narrative. But as James Loewen chronicles in his classic book “Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong,” teaching simplistic narratives of history doesn’t do anyone any good. Besides history, the same issue exists in other subjects as well. No, Isaac Newton didn’t “discover” gravity when an apple fell on his head. And yes, Pluto is still a planet — it’s just a special kind of planet. Like many myths, these stories often have a kernel of truth to them — it just isn’t what you learned. Here are 14 things you may have learned in school that have since been proven wrong.
Categories for Science & History
We tend to hold inventors in high esteem, but often their discoveries were the result of an accident or twist of fate. This is true of many everyday items, including the following surprise inventions. From popsicles to Post-It Notes, and from the microwave oven to Penicillin, in this article we’ll take a look at 10 unintentional discoveries or inventions that changed the world for the better.
We know the the brain is one of the most amazing and important organs in the human body, yet we surprisingly know very little about it. Even after thousands of years of studying and treating every aspect of the brain, there are still many facets of it that remain mysterious. And because the brain is so complex, we tend to simplify information about how it works in order to make it more understandable. Both our lack of understanding and our tendency to oversimplify the unknown have resulted in the development of many common myths about the brain. Here are 10 of the most common brain myths — and the surprising science to counter them.
Google Earth literally gives us the ability to look at the planet in new ways. And with volumes of satellite photos digitally stitched together to let people explore the Earth’s surface from the comfort of their couches, users have found some pretty surreal things over the years. From a boneyard of military planes, to mysterious structures etched into the Gobi Desert, here’s a look at some of the strangest and most fascinating sites others have stumbled upon browsing Google Earth.
Since the beginning of time, animals have gone extinct on Earth for many different reasons, such as a dramatic climate shifts, natural disasters, or human intervention. For decades, the notion of “de-extinction”—or the resurrection of an already extinct animal— has hovered on the scientific fringes. Now, new advances in science and genetic engineering, specifically biotechnology, could enable scientists to bring some of these animals “back” from extinction, and there are a few already on the list. Here are some of the candidate species scientists are currently considering for de-extinction.
Some superstitions are so ingrained in modern English-speaking societies that many people tend to succumb to them (or, at least, feel slightly uneasy about not doing so). But why don’t we walk under ladders? Why, after voicing optimism, do we knock on wood? Why do nonreligious people “God bless” a sneeze? While some of these superstition origins come from religious thoughts, some come from a practical place. After all, it’s probably a good idea not to open an umbrella in cramped spaces, whether it’s bad luck or not. From the avoidance of black cats to the fear of the number 666, here are the surprising origins of 21 of the most common superstitions and customs.
Terrified of flying? Scared of slithering snakes? Well, you’re not alone. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, phobias affect approximately 10% of American adults. Phobias are distressing emotions initiated by out-of-proportion-fears, both real and imaginary. To the sufferer, a phobia can seem unbearable or even life-threatening, while others might find these strange and bizarre phobias quite fascinating. Phobias are surprisingly common, but what exactly do people fear the most? Are there any phobias that tend to be more common than others? Here are the ten most common phobias, so sit back and be prepared to be equally terrified, amazed, surprised and entertained.
Few stories have the power to captivate us more than those that remain unresolved and a mystery. Despite the efforts of our most revered historians, scientists and researchers, history is filled with riddles that continue to confound us today. And the lack of answers only makes these enigmas more intriguing. Here is a look at 20 of the world’s greatest unsolved mysteries that may never have any definitive explanations.
“I have a dream.” These timeless words echoed from the mouth of Martin Luther King Jr. and pierced the heart of a nation. Now, on every third Monday of the year, hundreds of millions of people across the United States, Canada, and elsewhere celebrate the fact that the world is a better place because of MLK. And although most people are familiar with those four famous words, we would venture to say that there are at least a few things about King’s life you may not be aware of. So, as we honor one of the greatest civil rights leaders of our time, here are 30 surprising facts about the civil rights leader and 1964 Nobel Peace Prize winner.
Watch out! This Friday is Friday the 13th, known by many as the unluckiest day of the year. Fear of Friday the 13th has spawned a horror movies franchise and a tradition of widespread paranoia when it rolls around each year. While many will laugh off the superstitious day, some people will be so paralyzed with fear they simply won’t get out of bed in order to avoid daily tasks. Others will steadfastly refuse to fly on an airplane, conducts business, buy a house, or act on a hot stock tip. Here are 13 things to know about why the day is considered so ominous.
Puzzling ancient finds have a way of captivating the public, perhaps because it’s just too easy to dream up interesting explanations for how and why things exist. But for all of the time we spend researching and documenting our past, there are still many questions left unanswered. Our ancestors left a lot of traces in this world, and not all of them were ever meant to be understood by other cultures. Despite our best efforts, these 15 archaeological discoveries remain mysteries to this day and have left scientists scratching theirs heads year after year.
Barack Obama is about to finish his second term in the White House. What will he do once he’s returned to a quasi-normal life? In a video screened at this year’s White House Correspondents’ Association dinner, Obama joked about a number of potential options: Getting a driver’s license, playing golf every day, wearing comfortable mom jeans. But maybe he’ll also follow in the footsteps of some of his predecessors. Here’s a look at some of the interesting paths that 13 other presidents took after retiring from the nation’s highest office.