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Common misconceptions thread

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Old
11-29-2012, 04:22 PM
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Common misconceptions thread

So here's the idea: post a common [scientific] misconception, then explain how the system REALLY works.

Examples of good topics might include:
- equal transit theory for generating lift
- the phrase "centrifugal force" being considered always incorrect

Sound good to anyone?

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Old
11-30-2012, 07:53 AM
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TasteofFlames
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This one drives me nuts: Theories DO NOT get promoted to laws. They do two different things: laws explain how, theories attempt to explain why. Or, as I was taught - Laws define, Theories describe. They are distinct, scientific concepts. Both are held as scientific fact and supported by tons and tons of data. For example, there is both a law and theory of gravity (well, multiple theories, because gravity's...weird). Here's a good, short article on the matter.

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11-30-2012, 04:45 PM
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It doesn't always stop raining before a tornado hits. In fact, here in Dixie Alley, rain wrapped tornados are FARRRR more common.

There's really no way to explain WHY, but it's just the way it is.

And yes...Lightning DOES strike in the same place twice.

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Old
11-30-2012, 04:51 PM
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Might as well post a surprisingly entertaining Wikipedia article for this one:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of...misconceptions

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12-01-2012, 06:21 PM
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Just gonna copy my response from the "Enormous Black Hole Discovered" thread.

Quote:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Plan The Parade View Post
Are there any stars that are big enough to go supernova and cause a black hole of this size? This seems very unprecedented.

It also makes you realize that, if a black hole appeared anywhere close to our solar system, we are screwed (unless nuking black holes works).
Here's something that I'll add to the common misconceptions thread.

Black holes are not magic vaccuum cleaners. If faraway giant star does not have enough mass right now to suck in the earth, then it will still not have enough mass to suck in the earth when it collapses.



If the sun somehow turned into a black hole with the exact same mass, none of the planets would be sucked in. The orbits would be almost the exact same.
To add to the above:

Black holes were theorized first as a very good approximation of a stellar body from far away. It wasn't until several (can't remember dates) years later that people realized that this very useful approximation had ugly, ugly properties when you got very close to it.


They created this approximation because Einstein's field equations for GR are horrendously scary.



Moral of the story: from far away (ie: outside the event horizon), treat the movement and gravitational effect of a black hole the exact same way as you would treat a star of equal mass.

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12-14-2012, 02:45 AM
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I could list a host of mental health ones. Then again, I can just write a new post

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12-14-2012, 08:13 PM
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Light years measures distance, not time.

Some guy in Pokemon. However, people seem to forget that... If they know what a light year is.

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12-14-2012, 08:17 PM
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Quote:
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I could list a host of mental health ones. Then again, I can just write a new post

What?

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12-17-2012, 07:35 PM
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Blood isn't ****in blue

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12-17-2012, 07:52 PM
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Originally Posted by Unaffiliated View Post

What?
He might mean things like schizophrenia is a sign of possession by the devil... Though, they're not really a misconception anymore.

Tourettes causes you to involuntary swear. It does cause this, but not as much as people seem to think. Or at least I've been told that.

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12-19-2012, 02:03 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Analyzer View Post
He might mean things like schizophrenia is a sign of possession by the devil... Though, they're not really a misconception anymore.

Tourettes causes you to involuntary swear. It does cause this, but not as much as people seem to think. Or at least I've been told that.
Tourettes Syndrome can cause involuntary swearing. But Tourettes is really just having a motor or vocal tic, which can be swearing, but in most cases aren't.

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12-19-2012, 02:20 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Analyzer View Post
He might mean things like schizophrenia is a sign of possession by the devil... Though, they're not really a misconception anymore.
.
Schizophrenia is a good one because not a lot of people have it. It's a common label thrown around (it's a bit rare kind of like multiple personality syndrome). And most people really don't know what schizophrenia is.

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Old
12-19-2012, 07:07 AM
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I'll have to find it somewhere, but there was a study/experimentation where it was found that you could actually make people schizophrenic (temporarily, of course). Something to do with exposure and reaction and how we predict the upcoming events.

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12-22-2012, 04:13 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jevo View Post
Tourettes Syndrome can cause involuntary swearing. But Tourettes is really just having a motor or vocal tic, which can be swearing, but in most cases aren't.
That's whay I'm saying, but I see I worded it completely wrong.

Quote:
Originally Posted by the8bandarmadillo View Post
Schizophrenia is a good one because not a lot of people have it. It's a common label thrown around (it's a bit rare kind of like multiple personality syndrome). And most people really don't know what schizophrenia is.
From what I've seen it's mostly labelled on people who (for a lack of better word) appear crazy. They will even appear to suffer from tourettes, in that they randomly say things.

Schizophrenia is hard to diagnose, or at least I'd say so, because how does one prove there are two (or more) personalities living in one person ?

I have read an article about a man who could speak Spanish perfectly at one moment and then not know a word the next.

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12-22-2012, 05:22 PM
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The "rare earth" elements arent rare.

The placement of the lanthanides and actinides series on the bottom of the periodic table has nothing to do with chemistry but makes it more compact to save paper.

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12-22-2012, 05:41 PM
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Oxygen is actually a very reactive, dangerous substance. The only major beneficial form is O2.

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12-22-2012, 10:58 PM
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Too lazy to do an actual write-up.

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12-22-2012, 11:44 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Analyzer View Post
Light years measures distance, not time.

Some guy in Pokemon. However, people seem to forget that... If they know what a light year is.
just as parsecs are measures of distance, not time, despite what Han Solo says...

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12-22-2012, 11:51 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Analyzer View Post
That's whay I'm saying, but I see I worded it completely wrong.



From what I've seen it's mostly labelled on people who (for a lack of better word) appear crazy. They will even appear to suffer from tourettes, in that they randomly say things.

Schizophrenia is hard to diagnose, or at least I'd say so, because how does one prove there are two (or more) personalities living in one person ?

I have read an article about a man who could speak Spanish perfectly at one moment and then not know a word the next.
schizophrenia is often(mistakenly) used to mean a condition in which a person has multiple personalities but it is actually more like someone who has voices in their head, often compelling them to behave in bizarre ways that make them seem like they are someone else...

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12-23-2012, 12:00 AM
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Hallucinations (such as auditory or hearing voices) aren't even required for a diagnosis of schizophrenia.

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12-24-2012, 02:40 PM
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I have a whole print out of misconceptions I give to my students. I'll try and find it after break and re-post it here. There's a lot.

Also, I'm not sure if this counts as a misconception or not but when I mention that directions such as 'up down left right, north south ect' are not real and don't mean anything in outer-space the students get all freaked out.

In connection to this, is there any established plane? I would assume the ecliptic but is that an official directional line like the equator?


Last edited by Riseonfire: 12-24-2012 at 02:45 PM.
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12-24-2012, 06:21 PM
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This is more of a question than anything.

Can we actually draw a line, or simply a representation of a line? A line has no depth, correct? Which means it has no area. Which means it cannot be drawn or be a palpable object. So there really is no such thing as a line, right? Or am I dead wrong in this?

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12-24-2012, 07:45 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Riseonfire View Post
I have a whole print out of misconceptions I give to my students. I'll try and find it after break and re-post it here. There's a lot.

Also, I'm not sure if this counts as a misconception or not but when I mention that directions such as 'up down left right, north south ect' are not real and don't mean anything in outer-space the students get all freaked out.

In connection to this, is there any established plane? I would assume the ecliptic but is that an official directional line like the equator?
Isn't that because up, down, left, right and North, South, East and West are just human identifications to help make our day-to-day life easier ? In reality, North could be East and so forth.

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Originally Posted by LatvianTwist View Post
This is more of a question than anything.

Can we actually draw a line, or simply a representation of a line? A line has no depth, correct? Which means it has no area. Which means it cannot be drawn or be a palpable object. So there really is no such thing as a line, right? Or am I dead wrong in this?
If you were to draw a line in sand, it would have depth, no ? It's harder to see on a piece of paper. That's if we're thinking along the same lines, otherwise I'm in left field without a glove.

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12-24-2012, 10:28 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LatvianTwist View Post
This is more of a question than anything.

Can we actually draw a line, or simply a representation of a line? A line has no depth, correct? Which means it has no area. Which means it cannot be drawn or be a palpable object. So there really is no such thing as a line, right? Or am I dead wrong in this?
Quote:
Originally Posted by Analyzer View Post

If you were to draw a line in sand, it would have depth, no ? It's harder to see on a piece of paper. That's if we're thinking along the same lines, otherwise I'm in left field without a glove.
what we draw and see and accept as a "line" is actually not a line because by definition a line has only one dimension, which is length. but in order for a human eye to perceive it there must be two dimensions, so anything we see as a line is actually a 2 dimensional representation of a one dimensional object. (and in truth, a line drawn on paper actually has three dimensions, both width and thickness, though these are obviously very very thin dimensions)

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12-24-2012, 11:26 PM
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Ok not exactly on the order of some of these but one that drives me nuts.

Misconception: Lag in multi-player gaming (especially real time not turnbased), is caused by a lack of Download speed. When in fact most "broadband" connections have more than enough Download speed as long as the host server isn't too distant.

Reality: Yes a lack of Download speed can rarely cause lag, but for the most part it's an unstable Upload speed that causes it. Most people who complain about lag are cable users. And cable was designed as a 1-way transmission medium. It's upload is shared, and not even guaranteed by most providers. When your upload speed drops out from under you (with either service) while gaming, that is your presence in the game. Or more exactly your presence in the game added to the the most recent rendition of the game downloaded. MY DSL line is 1/3 the speed of your average cable line, but since it's "dedicated" the upload is very very stable. I can play for hours on end with no disconnects and not a hint of lag. That's not to say cable stinks and DSL is better. Just that faulty upload speeds are more the culprit than anything else. Most download speeds are so fast that even dropped packets can be re-Ack'd. The key is to not drop the packet in the first place.

When I bought my present home, I had both services installed at the same time and tested them in the same servers within minutes of each other. Comcast= all over the place. DSL=rock solid. I worked for two weeks with Comcast trying to solve the problem to no avail. It's my misfortune that my neighborhood is fairly old (late 40's early 50's) and the cable system and its nodes are very old. It's also fairly compact (small capes and ranches on smaller lots), which adds to the problem.

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