We live in the epoch of the information explosion. The amount of various information in the world increases with the speed of an avalanche crashing down from a summit. And sometimes it seems that this process is going to be endless. But that’s not all — when acquiring new knowledge our picture of the world changes too. The compass no longer points north, cockroaches don’t survive in a nuclear war, and the blue whale loses its title as the biggest creature on Earth.
We at Bright Side collected 10 facts that you probably learned in school. It’s likely that you have never doubted any of them up until now. Anyway, these facts turned out to be myths.
1. The blue whale is the biggest creature on Earth.
Perhaps you were told in biology lessons that the blue whale is the absolute record-holder among the biggest creatures that ever lived on Earth. It’s true that it is the largest mammal. It can reach more than 100 feet in length and the heart of an adult blue whale weighs about one ton.
However, if we consider all living creatures that inhabit our planet, there is something much larger than the blue whale. It’s a fungus called Armillaria ostoyae that takes up almost 4 square miles in the Malheur National Forest in Oregon. It got the name the Oregon Monster because it strangles the roots of trees and causes their death.
2. Cockroaches can survive a nuclear war.
Cockroaches are one of the hardiest creatures on earth. They can stay without food for a long time and are even able to live without their head for 2 weeks. It seems that they might not even be threatened by a nuclear war. However, scientists Mary H. Ross and D. G. Cochran decided to check this hypothesis in 1963 having studied the effect of radiation on cockroaches in laboratory conditions.
It turns out that cockroaches will be the first creatures who will die in the case of a nuclear catastrophe. The 6,400r. dose killed 93% of all cockroaches. Of course, this dose is more than 10 times higher than the dose that a human can stand (500r.) but the fact that these nasty creatures are not almighty gives us some hope.
3. The common cold is the most widespread illness on Earth.
It seems that there is no person who’s immune to catching a cold in cold weather. But there is a more widespread illness that doesn’t depend on weather conditions. We are talking about cavities. They seem harmless, but they can affect one’s health greatly.
According to an extensive research project supervised by professor W. Marcenes from the Queen Mary University of London, it’s cavities that can become the main headache of modern society. It turns out that 2.5 billion adults and 621 million kids in the world face this issue and it’s a good reason for brushing teeth and visiting the dentist more regularly.
4. George Washington was the first president of the United States. Or the 15th?
It’s a well-known fact that a dollar bill depicts George Washington, the first president of the USA, a talented politician, and a participant in the American War of Independence. But this information doesn’t match because some people call him the first president, while others call him the 15th. Where did this contradiction come from?
The United States Declaration of Independence was adopted in 1776, while George Washington became the head of the country on the April 30, 1789. So a logical question arises: who ruled the country from 1776 until 1789? Other presidents. That’s the reason why some sources cite Peyton Randolph as the first president.
But we should note that Peyton Randolph had the position of ’the first President of the Continental Congress,’ while the position of ’the first President of the USA’ was taken by George Washington.
5. Lady Godiva rode a horse through the city while completely naked to make her husband decrease taxes.
According to the legend, Lady Godiva asked her husband, the Earl Leofric to decrease taxes for the residents of the English town of Coventry in 1040. The Earl agreed with one condition: that his wife would ride a horse across the city while naked. He was sure that Lady Godiva wouldn’t do it, but the big-hearted woman carried through with his request for the sake of the common people.
At the end of the 13th century, King Edward I decided to find out the truth about this story and ordered a study of all the documents of that epoch. It turns out that some taxes really were abolished in Coventry in 1057, but that happened 17 years after Lady Godiva’s ride. Additionally, the first mention of the brave deed of Lady Godiva appeared more than 100 years after her death.
6. Zebras’ black and white coloring is a protection from predators.
Biologists have been searching for years for the answer to why zebras have stripes and there are many theories. According to the first one, the striped coloring baffles predators during an attack and makes a zebra less visible in the surrounding environment. According to the second one, every zebra has a unique coloring and pattern that helps them recognize each other. According to the third version, bloodsucking insects bite them less.
Scientists from the University of California held a research study to find the connection between a zebras coloring and their habitat. It turns out that the higher the average temperature is, the brighter and wider the black stripes are. At the same time, their coloring becomes faint in colder places. The reason is in the fact that black and white stripes heat up differently. So, the altering black and white stripes on the zebra’s skin help them with thermoregulation.
7. Egyptian pyramids are the biggest in the world.
We all remember hearing in school that the biggest pyramid is located in Egypt and is called the Great Pyramid of Giza. Perhaps this is the biggest among the Egyptian pyramids, but there are bigger pyramid constructions in the world.
The biggest pyramid on our planet was built in Mexico. It’s called The Great Pyramid of Cholula or Tlachihualtepetl, which means “made-by-hand mountain” and it exceeds the size of the Great Pyramid of Giza in volume by almost 2 times and in the square foundation by 4 times.
8. The compass always points to the North Pole.
Could there be any doubt regarding the fact that one of the arrows on the compass always points north? And by saying north we mean the North Pole of the Earth. In reality, this is not true. The magnetic field of our planet didn’t always have the orientation from north to south like it does now. It has changed its direction at least 100 times within the last 160 million years.
As a result, the magnetic and geographical poles don’t match. Today, the magnetic North Pole is located on the Boothia Peninsula — it’s the northernmost point of Canada and the arrows of all compasses point toward it.
9. Elephants are the only animals who can’t jump.
It’s true that adult elephants can’t jump despite the fact that they not only have 4 legs, but also knees, tendons, and spring muscles. It’s difficult to lift the huge mass of the elephant into the air. It can’t lift all 4 feet from the ground simultaneously because one of their feet always has to stay on the ground for balance.
But elephants are not the only animals who can’t jump. There are other mammals who also can’t do it, for example, sloths, hippos, and rhinos. Unlike elephants, hippos and rhinos can lift all 4 legs off the ground while running.
10. Vodka was invented by Dmitri Mendeleev.
Mendeleev, the great Russian chemist, wrote a dissertation “On the Combinations of Water with Alcohol” in 1865, but it had nothing to do with vodka. The chemist was studying the changes in the properties of aqueous solutions of alcohol at various concentrations and external conditions. He didn’t pay any special attention to the solution with the 40% alcohol content and its taste characteristics.
This strong beverage was actually known long before Mendeleev’s birth. The word ’vodka’ was first mentioned in 1405 in Poland. At that time, this drink was known as gorzałka (gorzeć — to burn). In 1819, Alexander I of Russia signed the ’Regulations on Vodka’ which included requirements for making this drink, as well as possible mixing options.
Which of these facts was the most surprising for you? Are there any other common facts you learned at school that eventually turned out to be myths? Please tell us about them in the comments!