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Popular Science Myths

5 Frustratingly Popular Science Myths

Neil deGrasse Tyson takes the cake for sassiest science communicator in the galaxy (also, for best space tie). Neil, host of Cosmos on Fox, had his badass-trophysicist self on full display during his South by Southwest keynote on March 8.

He gave parenting tips ("keep letting your kids break stuff — it is a source of curiosity") and explained there is a "genetically encoded force" that makes us curious about the universe ("we're the only animals that are comfortable sleeping on our backs . . . When we wake up, the first thing we'd see is the sky!"). There's a lot to learn from Neil, and we'll divulge more when our full interview with the astrophysicist himself is up! But before then, let Neil demystify some of the most frustratingly popular science myths.

  • "It's darkest before dawn." Neil: "No! It's at midnight your time."
  • "Summer is when the Earth is closest to the sun. Neil: "Australia, which is experiencing Winter at the same time as you, is the same distance!" The Earth has seasons because of its tilted axis.
  • "What goes up, must come down." Neil: "That's because you're not throwing it hard enough! If an object leaves the Earth's atmosphere, it'll just go on and on and on . . .'"
  • "The sun is yellow." Neil: "It's white! If the sun was yellow, snow would be yellow. But . . . generally . . . it's not."
  • "Something that is heavier will fall faster." Neil: "That's not true! This is an experiment you can do yourself! I'll do it right now with my boot."
Image Source: Getty
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akcihlar akcihlar 1 year

haha. yellow snow...

ragush ragush 1 year

Hi artglick. I'm not seeing your point. If I use the earth and moon as the objects, then the force of gravity is much larger. However, in F = ma where m is now the mass of the moon, the mass is proportionately larger, but the resulting acceleration will be the same as using the earth and a smaller object.

brianj123 brianj123 1 year

so i discussed this my dad and he explained:

Heavier objects fall faster is a myth because of the equation F = GmM/r^2, where F is the force of gravity, G is the gravitation constant, m is the mass of the falling object, M is the mass of the earth, and r is the distance between the masses. Physics tells us that a force acting on a mass with cause it to accelerate according to F = ma. Set the two equations equal to each other, and the mass of the object, m, cancels. Hence, the acceleration of the falling object is independent of its mass. A feather and a baseball in a vacuum will fall at the same rate.

brianj123 brianj123 1 year

because the earth will move towards the moon?

brianj123 brianj123 1 year

is that due to the velocity of the moon's orbit?

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