10 Science Misconceptions and Myths

Myths are always interesting to hear. The more outrageous the myth is, the more it is retold.

Science is one field where myths and misconceptions are always present. Name an object or phenomenon and there will be a myth or misconception about it. Here are some fascinating myths and misconceptions about science.

Myth #1: Sugar makes children hyper


Sugar is found in most foods. It is of course used in chocolate, soft drinks, juice and many other everyday foods. Sugar is a carbohydrate that is the most important source of energy for the body, especially the brain and nervous system. But contrary to what most of us know, sugary foods don’t affect your children’s behaviour according to various studies.

The idea was first suggested by Benjamin Feingold’s anecdotal evidence in his 1973 study. Although researchers still haven’t found a complete explanation to this theory, many of them concluded that sugar does not lead directly to hyperactivity in children.

Myth #2: Lightning never strikes the same place twice


Lightning is an electric current created from the opposite attraction of the positive charges from the top of the clouds and negative charges from the bottom of the clouds and strikes the ground of the Earth. According to the myth, lightning will strike a certain location only once. Myth. The fact is, it can strike any place or even strike the same place again and again.

Myth #3: Polaris, the North Star is not the brightest star in the sky


The universe has more than 100 billion galaxies and each galaxy may have more than 100 billion stars. Polaris is ranked as about the 45th brightest star in the Ursa Minor constellation, Sirius being the first. The brightness of the stars is measured based on their magnitude from one to six. Sirius has a -1.46 absolute magnitude while Polaris has a -3.58 absolute magnitude. But changes in Polaris’ brightness has been observed, and it appears to be 2.5 times brighter today than in Ptolemy’s time. In fact it is the brightest star in the constellation of Ursa Minor today.

Myth #4: All bats are blind


The common belief is that bats can see only at night or that they see using sound. However, they actually can see and even have cone cells at the edge of their retina that improves their vision at night. The reason why bats fly at night is that they have hairless wings which would dry out during the daytime. But others say that it is because they eat at night so they come out to catch a number of flying insects for food.

Myth #5: Photographic memory


Photographic memory is like looking at a photograph and being able to retrieve every piece of detail you saw when you need to. But this has never been proven to exist. Few adults have very good memory skills but they don’t seem to have a photographic memory, nor is it connected with their intelligence level but only a combination of innate abilities, familiarity, and learning style. Don’t be confused with “eidetic” memory because unlike photographic memory, it exists. You have an eidetic memory if you have the ability to retain a vivid afterimage in your mind after a short time of exposure to a picture, sound or object before it fades away.

Myth #6: Stars twinkle


A star is a luminous ball of gas, made up of mostly hydrogen and helium, held together by its own gravity to look like points of light in the night sky. Stars do not actually twinkle, it’s just how we see them from the Earth’s surface. Light from a star passes through the moving air in Earth’s atmosphere and makes it appear as though the stars are twinkling. This is called “astronomical scintillation”.

Myth #7: Velocity = speed


Velocity and speed both measure how fast an object can move a certain distance, but there’s a distinction between them that people seem to forget. Velocity measures the rate at which an object can move a certain distance in a given direction, while speed simply measures the rate at which an object can move a certain distance.

Myth #8: Human beings have five senses.


Humans have more than just the standard list of five senses. In fact, we have at least nine and some researchers think we have twenty. In order for humans to detect the characteristics of the environment around them they need to have “sensors” including temperature, kinesthetic, pain, balance, vibration senses and other various internal stimuli.

Myth #9: Galileo invented the telescope


Many inventors claimed to have developed the telescope, Zacharias Hanssen, Jacob Metius and Galileo included. However, the invention was actually credited to Hans Lippershey who was a spectacle-maker in Germany in the late 1500s and early 1600s. Lippershey’s original telescope consisted of two convex lenses and a concave eyepiece lens. Hi filed the patent for the instrument in 1608. Galileo, an Italian astronomer, physicist, engineer, philosopher and mathematician, has been linked to the invention of the telescope for his contribution in the improvements to the instrument.

Myth #10: John Glenn was the first American to reach space


John Glenn is a former U.S. Marine Corps aviator, engineer, astronaut and US senator. He became the first American to orbit the Earth after being selected as one of the Mercury Seven in 1959 to fly the Project Mercury spacecraft. In 1962 Glenn flew the Friendship 7 mission, which was the first manned orbital mission of the United States, but prior to this flight he had served as a backup pilot for Alan Shepard.

Glenn became the third American in space. Alan Shepard, one of the Project Mercury astronauts, was the first American in space. He named his capsule the Freedom 7, which was the first American human spaceflight mission.

Shepard also became the fifth and oldest person, at the age of 47, to walk on the Moon. Alan Shepard retired in 1974 and became a successful businessman and sadly died of leukaemia in 1998. While John Glenn became the US senator in 1974, he is the only person among the seven astronauts still living at the age of 94 years old.


Our common beliefs will always be challenged, but as long as you love searching for knowledge you’ll always find the right answer.

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