Bad Science

We've all heard expressions and stats that just seem to "make sense," so we don't bother to check them out. It turns out there are a lot of misconceptions floating around. We're here to break down a few examples of what we like to call "B.S." That's...Bad Science!

Myth: A Penny Dropped from the Empire State Building Will Kill You

You may heard somewhere that penny, tossed from the top of a tall building by a careless or malicious person, can become a lethal projectile by the time it reaches the ground. Rest assured, though, that when you’re walking around Philadelphia’s Center City district, you can feel free to look up and admire the sights without fear of that happening. As detailed in an article published in 2012 in Scientific American, University of Virginia physicist Louis Bloomfield did experiments in which he used wind tunnels and helium balloons to simulate what would happen if a penny was tossed from a skyscraper. As it turns out, the small, flat coin is cushioned by air resistance on the way down, so that it flutters to the ground the way a leaf would. If it did hit you in the head, you might feel a light impact, but that’s about it. If the air resistance somehow was miraculously eliminated, the penny would accelerate to a speed of slightly more than 200 miles per hour—which might cause some damage, but wouldn’t penetrate the hardness of your skull.

Myth: Peanuts are Nuts

Considering that there’s a "nut" in the word peanut, it’s easy to make the mistake of thinking that peanuts are nuts. Actually, the website of the Peanut Institute explains, peanuts don’t grow above-ground on trees the way that walnuts, almonds, and other true nuts do. Instead, peanuts -- along with beans and peas -- are legumes, which are edible seeds enclosed in pods. Peanuts are produced by plants that have green, oval-shaped leaves and yellow flowers and stand only about a foot-and-a-half in height. When the flowers are pollinated and lose their petals, the budding ovaries of peanut plants grow downward, and the peanuts develop under the ground. It takes about four to five months for peanuts to develop. But even though they’re not nuts in a biological sense, the Institute notes, peanuts are considered a nut for nutritional purposes. As such, the legumes actually are the most popular nut in the American diet, with peanuts and peanut butter amounting to about two-thirds of consumption.

Myth:  House Flies Only Live For One Day 

The common house fly, Musca domestica, which originated on the plains of central Asia, has adapted well to being around people, and feeds on our  food and garbage, in addition to other even more disgusting stuff that we won’t get into. In addition to annoying us with their buzzing, though, house flies are a potential health threat, because they spread diseases ranging from dysentery to tuberculosis by picking up viruses, bacteria and other pathogens and transmit them to our things that we eat, according to the website of the University of Florida’s department of entomology and nematology. House flies can survive in climates ranging from tropical to temperate, and thrive in both urban and rural environments, so it’s pretty tough to avoid them. Maybe that’s why we like to console ourselves with the thought that they’re punished for the unpleasantness they cause with a tragically short lifespan of just a day. The problem is, though, that isn’t really the case. According to the World Health Organization, house flies typically live for two to three weeks, but in cooler climates, they can survive for as long as two to three months. 

Stay tuned for more #BadScience myth-busting!