Don’t be too surprised, but scientific myths are all around us. And we believe in many of them.
Science still has no answer to many questions. However, this is not the only reason for the emergence of myths to explain the lack of information. Sometimes, even though something has already been scientifically proven, people remain ignorant of it. To break the chain, we have collected ten of the most famous scientific myths we believe.
Myth: The highest mountain on Earth is the Himalayas, and the highest peak is Everest
Fact: If we consider the altitude relative to sea level, Everest is actually the highest peak. But in practice, the leader is not in Asia but in Hawaii. The extinct volcano Mauna Kea rises to 10,203 meters. You may be wondering why then Mount Everest (8848 m) is mentioned in geographical textbooks? The reason is that most of Mauna Kea are underwater. But this is not the highest mountain in the solar system. It is located on Mars, and it is called Olympus Mons. The peak is an extinct volcano, 27 kilometers high.
Myth: The largest desert on Earth is the Sahara
Fact: If you look at the definition of a desert, you will immediately understand why this is actually a myth. The desert is a geographical area where rainfall is minimal, and therefore living conditions are challenging. You may be surprised to learn that about a third of the land is desert or semi-desert. Thus, this includes the polar deserts. The largest one on Earth with an area of 870,000 square kilometers is Antarctica.
Myth: Lightning never strikes twice in the same place
Fact: We don’t even have an explanation for how this myth came about. Probably because lightning is a relatively rare occurrence and does not often fall past you. In fact, lightning can and will strike the same place twice, whether during the same storm or even centuries later. For example, the Empire State Building in New York is struck by lightning an average of about 25 times a year. That is why skyscrapers need to be supplied with heavy equipment to prevent damage.
Myth: The highest waterfall in the world is Angel in Venezuela
Fact: And here the situation is the same as with the peaks. Angel is indeed the highest waterfall, but… on land. The tallest waterfall on Earth is underwater, and it is located at the bottom of the Danish Strait between Greenland and Iceland. We bet you didn’t expect that. Oddly enough, there are rivers, waterfalls, and lakes in the oceans. Unfortunately, we know very little about them because it is challenging to study and photograph them. We can’t tell you what this waterfall is called because it doesn’t have a name, but we know its height – 3505 m.
Myth: The rainiest country in the world is The UK
Fact: Hardly anyone in the UK likes the weather, but while it’s always humid and cold there, it’s far from the rainiest country. In London, about 500 mm of rain falls annually. For comparison, in other European cities such as Rome (760 mm), Milan (1000 mm), and Genoa (1100 mm), the figures are twice as high. The rainiest place on Earth is Cherrapunji in the Himalayas, India. Due to the nature of the monsoons, there fall about 12,000 mm per year. Did you know these scientific myths?
Myth: The longest river in the world is the Nile
Fact: This is not 100% proven. The reason is that the Amazon River, which is the deepest and has the largest catchment area globally, has not been fully explored. Due to its small population, lack of roads, and inaccessible areas, the vast sections of the Amazon that have not been probed can make it a leader in length. Some scientists estimate that the Amazon is between 6,250 and 6,800 km, while others claim to cover 7,000 km. For comparison, the length of the Nile River is 6650 km. Which of the two is the real champion we will probably find out in the coming years.
Myth: The saltiest lake on Earth is the Dead Sea
Fact: As with the deserts, the winner is on the icy continent. It is unknown why Antarctica is excluded from such rankings, but it is a fact that the saltiest lake on the planet is located there. It was discovered quite by accident in 1961. Two scientists were impressed that despite the sub-zero temperatures, the lake has no ice cover. The water in it is so salty that it does not freeze even at -50 degrees Celsius. Its name is Don Juan. These scientific myths are really killing us.
Myth: All trees are supplied with water thanks to their root system
Fact: In the African desert of Namib, in the territory of Namibia and Angola, there is a unique plant called Welwitschia. It is suitable for living in extremely difficult conditions in one of the most ancient deserts. It obtains water not through the roots but through the leaves, which absorb moisture and deliver it to the root system buried in the dry sand. Its leaves are up to 8 meters long, and in periods of great drought, the plant looks dead. As the climate improves, its vital functions gradually return. The Welwitschia usually lives about 500-600 years, but there are two millennia old specimens.
Myth: The Moon has a dark side
Fact: This is entirely untrue. It is not clear why so many people consider this a fact. Probably because we see only 59% of the Moon’s surface from Earth, while 41% remain hidden from us, but this does not mean that this part of the Earth’s satellite is shrouded in impenetrable darkness. The reason is that our planet and the Moon have a synchronous rotation around their axis, and therefore a part of it always remains hidden from us.
Myth: Some animals can predict natural disasters
Fact: The presence of such an ability in animals has not been scientifically proven. However, they have highly developed senses. Their hearing, sense of smell, and vision are usually many times more developed than humans. They also have highly developed instincts. When they see an impending danger, the animals simply run away without thinking, while people perceive what is happening more emotionally and often panic and waste time. That is why natural disasters often kill far fewer animals than humans.
Were you surprised by the debunking of these scientific myths? Congratulations, you are already an exception to the rule. And you know for sure that the seemingly correct answer is not always the right one.
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