13. Opossums sleep hanging by their tails
You’ve probably seen cartoons—maybe even photos—of opossums lounging upside-down from their tails. While opossum tails are strong enough to grasp branches and even hold the animals’ weight for a short period, adults are too heavy for their tails to support them for long, so they can’t stay like that while sleeping.
14. Sugar makes kids hyper
Don’t blame the cake if your kid is acting out at a party. The “sugar high” theory started in 1978 when one study found that kids with hyperkinesis, a hyperactivity disorder, had low blood sugar, which, weirdly enough, can be a sign of eating too much sugar. That study was later discredited when researchers realized the “abnormally low” blood sugar was actually considered normal. Since then, double-blind studies have shown sugar doesn’t make kids any more hyper than a placebo. If anything, it’s probably your own expectations. One 1994 study found that after five- to seven-year-old boys took a placebo, the moms who were told their sons had eaten a large dose of sugar were more likely to say their kid was acting hyper. Your kid might also just be excited to let loose with their friends at a party. Here are more myths parents need to stop believing.
15. Lightning never strikes the same place twice
Anyone familiar with lightning rods could probably already tell you there’s nothing stopping lightning from hitting the same spot twice. The Empire State Building, for example, once endured eight strikes in 24 minutes during a storm. Even without a lightning rod, there’s nothing keeping lightning away from the spot that just got hit. In fact, the features that made the spot likely to get hit once—height, the presence of standing water, or terrain shape, for example—would be just as attractive to a second bolt, according to the National Severe Storms Laboratory. Learn how you can stay safe in a lightning storm.
16. Common belief in the Middle Ages was the Earth was flat, but it’s really a perfect sphere
Surprise! Both parts of this myth are false. Scholars have known the Earth is round for thousands of years. Greek philosopher first suggested the idea around 500 B.C., though his thought process had to do with the fact that he thought spheres were the perfect shape. Still, Aristotle actually found physical evidence backing up his predecessor’s theory. By the time the first century A.D. rolled around, any educated Greek or Roman believed in a round planet. When Christopher Columbus took on his voyage, the fear was that the oceans would be too big, not that he’d fall off the face of the earth. In perhaps the biggest twist, though, Earth isn’t a perfect sphere; the North and South Poles are flattened slightly. Don’t miss these other 18 lessons your history teacher lied about.
17. Genes determine race
You might think people who look superficially different would have big differences in their genes, but that’s not the case. According to the National Human Genome Research Institute, humans share 99.9 percent of their genes with each other. Even that 0.1 percent doesn’t have any racial markers. In fact, a groundbreaking 2002 study revealed there is more genetic diversity between people of African descent than between Africans and Eurasians. You can use your genes to trace your ancestors’ geography, but that doesn’t directly tie into the race. Case in point: Sickle cell anemia isn’t a general “African” disease, as it’s normally described; it’s more common in West Africans, but also in Mediterranean, Arabian, and Indian populations.
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