Top 5 Science Myths
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Top 5 Science Myths

Our science department got together to tell you about the science behind why five of the big science myths out there are false!


1. MYTH: California will someday “fall into” the ocean.

FACT: The San Andreas Fault is not a subduction zone (a place where one plate moves under another plate). The San Andreas Fault is where two plates—the Pacific and North American Plates—are moving PAST each other, not over and under each other. The land west of the San Andreas Fault is moving northwest. Eventually it might end up near Alaska, but it isn’t going to break off and fall into the ocean.


2. MYTH: The blood in your veins is blue.

FACT: All blood is red. Some people believe (and the way textbooks color veins doesn’t help) that blood in our arteries, “oxygenated” blood, is red while “deoxygenated” blood is blue. Wrong! Blood is never blue. Oxygenated blood is bright red and deoxygenated blood is more of a maroon color. The reason our veins look blue is because of the way light penetrates our skin and which wavelengths are absorbed and reflected. Veins are close to the skin, so we see them as blue because blue light doesn’t penetrate the skin as well, so more blue light is reflected from veins than red light.


3. MYTH: There is a “Dark” side of the moon.

FACT: While it is true that there is a “far” side of the moon there is no “dark” side of the moon. The moon is “tidally locked” to the Earth, meaning the same side of the moon always faces the earth. The far side isn’t always dark, though. Half of the moon is always in sunlight, and half is dark. The parts that are bright and dark are always changing, which is why we see the different phases of the moon. During a “new” moon the part of the moon in complete daylight is the far side. During a full moon the far side is in complete darkness. In about 50 billion years the Earth will also become tidally locked to the moon, so one side of the earth will always face the moon, just like one side of the moon always faces the Earth now.


4. MYTH: The Earth is at the “center” of the universe.

FACT: The Earth holds no special place in the universe, other than being our home.  If that is the case, why does everything in the universe appear to be moving away from us?  The reason for this is that space itself is expanding (as it has been since the Big Bang).  Since space itself is expanding no matter where you are in the universe it will appear that everything is moving away from you (think of dots on a balloon—if you draw the dots and then inflate the balloon, as the balloon gets bigger all the dots move away from each other).


5. MYTH: The Earth is only 6,000 years old.

FACT: There is a belief that since the Earth is only 6,000 years old, humans were living at the same time as dinosaurs.  Actually, our best scientific evidence shows the Earth is about 4.6 billion years old.  Geological Evidence (the layers in the Earth as well as plate tectonics), evidence from chemistry and physics (carbon dating and argon dating), as well as biological evidence (tree rings and mutation rates in DNA which lead to change over time) all show us that the earth is billions, not thousands, of years old.

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