There are heaps of things we take as facts in our daily lives that are actually not true. It’s not until we really take a close look at them and use science and reason carefully without giving in to our subconscious tendency to lazily make snap decisions, we can see the truth behind the assumptions and tricks.
There is no gravity in space?
This is an extremely common misconception probably due to seeing astronauts ‘floating’ in space ships when in orbit. In reality though there is heaps of gravity in space – how do you think the moon stays in orbit around us and we stay in orbit around the Sun? It’s gravity of course! It’s just that when a space ship is in orbit the contents of the space ship are also in orbit and both the spaceship and the contents are falling towards Earth at the same rate.
Imagine being in a box and dropped from very high up, the box and you would be falling towards the Earth at the same rate but from your perspective you would appear to be floating inside the box. This is exactly the same as an orbit, except orbiting objects have enough sideways speed to fall past the Earth as they fall down, so they’re always missing the Earth but also always falling.
Here is a link to NASA’s fantastic demonstration of Newton’s cannon that gives an intuitive understanding for how orbits work.
Chemicals are bad for you?
Chemicals get a bad wrap in popular culture. Many people consider the word “chemical” to mean “something that is made in a factory and is bad for you” but in chemistry all it really means something that can be studied by chemists or used in a chemical reaction. This means that everything is made of chemicals including water, ‘natural’ foods, and even you reading this are just a big bag of different chemicals. Certainly some chemicals are really bad for you but some are super duper healthy!
What are goosebumps/goosepimples?
At first glance they seem super weird – what possible reason could we have for getting bumpy when cold or scared. Well, they would’ve made a lot more sense for our hairier ancestors. Goosebumps are actually a contraction of a small muscle at the base of hair follicles and are designed to fluff up hair. This fluffing up could do two things – keep the animal warmer and make them look bigger; perfect for when animals are cold and frightened. Unfortunately, our ancestors lost most of their fur when running around Africa a few hundred thousand years ago because it was too hot and we needed to sweat. Now we still have the goosebumps reaction from getting cold or scared but we no longer have the fur that goes with it (or not much of it anyway)!