6 Ridiculous Science Myths You Learned in Kindergarten

Right around the time we learn to start questioning the ways of this wonderful world around us, our parents start packing us onto school buses every morning, because who the hell has time for all those obnoxious questions? Let the professionals address the budding curiosity of our children; we've got America's Next Top Model to watch. Teachers are better equipped to deal with those questions anyway, right? Right!

Mostly. Teachers are people, too, and people have this nasty tendency to occasionally lob whatever untruth comes flying at them right back at somebody else like a game of bullshit ping pong. For example ...

(We've got a lot more school-issued B.S. where that came from. Buy Cracked's De-Textbook and learn why everything you know about the founding of America is a lie.)

#6. The Coriolis Effect Controls the Direction in Which Toilet Water Drains

Feng Yu/Photos.com

The Myth:

As soon as we learn that the Earth rotates on its axis, we learn all the cool effects that this has on our lives. It gives us day and night, causes the stars to move across the sky, and causes the swirly to be a completely different hairstyle in Australia than in America. That last one is because of something called the Coriolis effect, which causes toilet water to drain in a counterclockwise direction in the Northern Hemisphere but in a clockwise direction in the Southern one.

Hemera Technologies/Photos.com/Getty
On the equator, toilets don't flush at all. People bury their waste in the yard.

It makes sense: To the people facing down from the North, the Earth moves in a counterclockwise direction, while to the people facing up from the South, the Earth is rotating clockwise, thus causing the water in their respective hemispheres to drain in the direction of their perceived rotation.

The Reality:

The Coriolis effect is totally a thing, and it really does affect the direction in which things spin. Like this:

Hubi/Wikimedia
Say, when you and your enemy exchange grenades on a merry-go-round.

But the sharper-eyed among you might have noticed that, in the diagram above, the object was relatively big in relation to the spinning disc. And that's the trick: In order for Coriolis force to have an effect on earthly phenomena, said phenomena have to be really big. So Coriolis force affects the direction in which hurricanes and cyclones spin, seeing as how those things are massive amalgamations of murderwind, but it doesn't affect your little toilet, no matter how murderish your personal wind may be.

Imre Solt, Stockbyte/Getty Images
Even Dubai's controversial "world's largest toilet" proves immune.

When it comes to the water in your puny porcelain poop throne, Coriolis force does precisely squat. Coriolis force controls freaking weather systems; the only things controlling the direction in which your poop water drains are the shape of the toilet and exactly how badly you just clogged that bastard.

#5. Diamonds Come from Coal

Jeffrey Hamilton/Digital Vision/Getty Images

The Myth:

Everyone knows that if you want a diamond, you have three options: A) go down to your local jewelry store and overpay for it, B) get a hunk of coal, bury it deep in your backyard, and dig up your shiny fresh (and free!) diamond a short 10,000 years later, or C) make a drunken bet with Superman. That's because the two key ingredients in the recipe for diamonds are coal and immense pressure.

John Foxx/Stockbyte/Getty Images
Substitute corn for coal, and you get something even better.

The Reality:

Actually, although scientists can't tell you with absolute certainty what the exact source of modern diamonds are, they mostly agree on one thing: It almost certainly ain't coal.

You see, the basic building block of all diamonds is carbon, not coal. Yeah, yeah, we know coal contains buttloads of carbon, but here's the thing: Scientists have taken a close look and determined that the carbon currently found in the vast majority of diamonds is old. Like, predates-all-of-Earth's-land-plants old. And guess what the source of all of Earth's coal is? You guessed it, smart guy: plants. (Now, diamonds could theoretically be made from coal -- if a coal plant was hit by a massive asteroid or a coal transport ship sank in the ocean and got pulled between continental plates somehow -- just because it's a source of carbon, but it's extremely unlikely.)

Digital Vision./Photodisc/Getty Images
And gold could come from hydrogen. But it usually doesn't.

So why are we so widely taught that diamonds are formed from coal? Possibly because the real explanation is simply too metal to be included in the curriculum. The most prominent method of formation for diamonds goes like this: They're initially formed deep in the Earth's mantle from carbon-rich rocks that suffered skull-pulverizing pressure over eons and are then delivered to the surface via motherfucking volcanic explosions. With a badass backstory like that, we're pretty sure they've been marketing diamonds to the wrong gender all these years. It's an easy mistake to fix. Think of any overwrought Ford truck commercial you've seen, swap in diamonds for that F-150, and boom: You doubled your market.

You know what says "thank you" really well, diamond industry? It starts with "d" and contains "mon," and it's not Djimon Hounsou.

#4. Dogs Can't Sweat (or They Sweat Through Their Tongues)

Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Getty Images

The Myth:

Dogs pant because they can't sweat. Weird, right? For some insane reason, nature saw fit to give man's best friend precisely zero sweat glands throughout their bodies and instead doomed them to flop their fleshy food scooper at the world whenever they need to cool off. Alternatively, you may have heard that dogs do sweat, but only through their tongues ...

Ryan McVay/Digital Vision/Getty Images
And they clean the sweat off using the Coriolis effect.

The Reality:

... which you might recognize as a stupid and roundabout way to say "drooling." It's true, of course, that dogs pant because it helps them cool down when they're hot -- but that doesn't mean their tongue is a giant sweat gland. Nope, all that liquid you disgustedly wipe from your ankle on a hot summer day is good ol' spit. If you see a dog with a damp nose, there's about an equal chance between that dampness being sweat and toilet water. Turns out sweat is most readily visible on a dog's sniffer or on its foot pads, because on most dogs, those are the only places not covered by fur.

soupstock/Photos.com
Rick, on the other hand, gets damp all over.

But don't take our word for it ... ask science. Way back in 1835, after humanity had invented boredom but before we'd perfected basic fucking empathy, some crazy scientists decided to see if dogs sweat by shaving them, strapping them to a board, applying heat pads to their bodies, and injecting them with freaking adrenaline just for good measure. And it turns out that both the heat pads and the panic juice made the dogs sweat from all over their body. Interesting information, to be sure, and we hope it gives you solace in hell, 19th century scientists.

So if dogs are in fact peppered with sweat glands, why the myth that they're unable to sweat? Probably because they don't sweat for the same reason you do. Only the sweat glands on their noses and foot pads are to help them cool off -- the rest are mainly to help them maintain their savory doggy stench.

Thinkstock/Stockbyte/Getty Images
So those scientists just got a bunch of dog stink for their troubles. Ha!

And while we're on the subject of long-held zoological misconceptions ...

(Albert Einstein had affairs with at least TEN different women. Buy our De-Textbook for more stories of pimp-ass scientists.)

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