– By Hashim Khan
It is surely a mystery how rumors are born. A mere statement, an incorrect one too, spreads among the public like a virus, eventually reaching so many people that they start to believe it! And the next thing we know, everyone is convinced it is true. So think twice before saying ‘Everyone can’t be wrong’.
A significant part of our knowledge is based on rumors, and through our question yesterday, we hope to eliminate at least three of them. The time has come to shed some light on some of the things we thought we knew.
Yesterday, in QUIZ WHIZZ, we asked you:
Which of these widely believed statements is actually a fact?
a. Great wall of China is visible from the Moon
b. Hair and nails continue to grow after death
c. Goldfish have a memory span of 30 seconds
d. Sharks can suffer from Cancer.
More than half of you voted for option (a) and the least number of votes were given to option (d)
The Great Wall of China is not visible from space! Yes, you read it right the first time! Although the Great Wall is, admittedly, very long (it runs for over 1,500 miles), there’s no way you can see this structure from space. You can’t even see the Great Wall from low orbit. No astronauts have reported seeing human-made objects from space. Although this statement was probably hyperbole made to explain how enormous the Wall is, the fact remains: you can’t see the wall after clearing 180 miles of atmosphere.
Hair and nails do not continue to grow after death! Somewhere along the way, a rumor was started that hair and nails continue to grow after death – leading to nightmares worldwide of opened caskets featuring foot-long fingernails and mountains of hair.
Hair and nails only look like they have grown after death. The skin around these areas begins to lose water and shrink, giving the hair and nails the appearance of having grown. The fact is, when you’re dead, not much is going to be happening growth-wise.
Goldfish do not have a memory span of 30 seconds! The play Dying Goldfish features a line of dialogue that helps propagate this common myth: “A goldfish has a memory of only thirty seconds, so when it’s dying it thinks it’s been dying all its life.” Some even thought that the goldfish memory span lasts only several seconds.
In reality, goldfish have a memory span of up to three months. They can be taught to follow a routine and can tell time!
No prices now for guessing which option was actually a fact! It was probably the least common statement of them all and that is because it is actually true!
Many scientists over the years have worked, published, and earned their livelihood propagating the fact that Sharks don’t get cancer and that is why they can be used to cure cancer! The fact, however, is that although they have a lesser tendency than us humans, Sharks can suffer from cancer!
So as it turns out we have wiped out four of the commonly believed science myths!
Congratulations and thumbs up to those who got it right! Stay tuned for the next question, 10 pm on Monday.
– The writer is an Executive member of NUST Science Society and a sophomore at School of Chemical and Materials Engineering.