The Top Ten Myths Debunked

We've all heard them. We've even believed some of them. Some are actually known as "common knowledge." Until now.

Vince's Blog takes on the ten worst myths and misconceptions that are believed and spread on a daily basis.

10. Cucumbers Reduce Under-Eye Bags
Cucumbers contains special ingredients that reduce the bags under your eyes.

Reality: While a cool cucumber may feel relaxing on the eyes, there is no special ingredient that reduces bags. Rather, the cooling effect of the water in the cucumbers, combined with increased humidity, temporarily reduces swelling. So, any cool, damp object would do.

9. Freezing Water in Plastic Bottles Releases Toxic Chemicals
When water is frozen in plastic bottles, dangerous chemicals such as "Dioxin" and released into your drinking water.

Reality: Freezing actually works against the release of chemicals. Chemicals do not diffuse as readily in cold temperatures, which would limit chemical release, not promote it.

8. We Only Use 10% of our Brains
The average human only uses 10% of his or her brainpower, leaving the other 90% in untapped potential.

Reality: Brain imaging techniques such as PET scans (positron emission tomography) and fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging) clearly show that the vast majority of the brain does not lie dormant. While certain functions may use only a small part of the brain at one time, any sufficiently complex set of activities or thought patterns will indeed use many parts of the brain.

Just as people don't use all of their muscle groups at one time, they also don't use all of their brain at once. For any given activity, such as eating, watching television, reading Vince's Blog, or daydreaming, you may use a few specific parts of your brain. Over the course of a whole day, however, just about all of the brain is used at one time or another.

7. Tapping a Soda Can Will Prevent it From Foaming When Opened
Before enjoying a carbonated beverage, tap it a few times on the top or side to prevent it from foaming up.

Reality: The fizz gets into carbonated drinks through a process which forces carbon dioxide and water together under pressure. The high pressure maintained inside the can or bottle forces the carbon dioxide to stay incorporated in the liquid around it. When you open the can, you reduce the pressure and gas is quickly released from the liquidin the form of bubbles or foam. Shaking the can unbinds the carbonation from the solution, leading to greater bubbles and fizz, as we all know from past juvenille practical jokes on Uncle Theo.

Tapping the can does nothing to force the carbonation back into the solution and gains you little outside of looking silly to Vince's Blog readers.

6. You Can See The Great Wall of China from the Moon
Astronauts can look back fondly at the Earth and see the Great Wall of China.

Reality: Visibility of the Great Wall reaches its limits at about 200 miles above the Earth's surface. The moon is roughly 237,000 miles away, and, by the way, is not made of cheese.

5. Water Swirls Down a Drain in the Opposite Directions Depending on Your Hemisphere
Water in a pan, sink, or toilet rotates counter clockwise in the northern hemisphere and clockwise in the southern hemisphere due to the Coriolis Effect, which is caused by the rotation of the Earth.

Reality: The twisting effect of the Coriolis force is real and does influence certain large things like the movement of air masses, but the effect is so small that it plays no role in determining the direction in which water rotates as it flows down the drain. Toilets and sinks drain in the directions they do because of the way water is directed into them or pulled from them.

4. Men Think About Sex an Average of Every Seven Seconds
Being the obsessed horndogs they are, men think of sex so much it averages once every seven seconds while awake.

Reality: While proving a negative is difficult, if not impossible, the data disagrees. According to the Kinsey Institute's FAQ , "54% of men think about sex every day or several times a day, 43% a few times per month or a few times per week, and 4% less than once a month."

3. A Penny Dropped From the Empire State Building Would Kill a Person
Even a small coin becomes a dangerous weapon when dropped from exceptionally high buildings.

Reality: My high school physics teacher, Mr. Starrs, taught me that force equals mass times acceleration (F=MA). While a penny dropped from that height will reach 60-70 miles-per-hour, factoring in wind resistance, it simply doesn't have the mass to do any major damage to the majority of your body. Decent amount of speed, very little mass. A safe or piano, yes. Penny, no.

2. KFC Restaurants Removed the Word "Chicken" from its Name Because it Uses Genetically Altered Chickens
KFC was forced to drop "Chicken" from its name because the crispy meal you're enjoying is no longer a true chicken.

Reality: KFC dropped "Fried" from its name for obvious reasons. Since "Kentucky Chicken" doesn't have a great sound to it, "KFC" was the logical choice. The company website for KFC contains numerous mentions of "chicken" and there is no such restriction by any mysterious government entity in place.

1. Heat Lightning
During very hot summer nights, the intense heat will cause lightning to flash in the distance.

Reality: What's referred to as "heat lightning" is actually lightning from a thunderstorm too far away for thunder to be heard. It's the same lightning you see up close, but appears on the horizon as a flash.

This is one of the more stubborn myths out there, with a very broad belief base, and it's gets stronger every day. During the next storm, the regular run-of-the-mill lightning you see will be being perceived by distant others as "heat lightning" and the cockroach-like myth will spread some more.

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