Tag Archives: misconceptions

176. Walking Corpse Syndrome

Not a sufferer of Walking Corpse Syndrome

Also known as Cotard’s Syndrome, this rare mental condition has a very bizarre way of changing one’s outlook. It is usually a side-effect of a previous mental illness but occasionally the result of head trauma. What it actually does is make the sufferer believe that they are dead, non-existent or in even rarer cases, immortal.

They simply are convinced that they are in essence, a walking corpse, or ghost. Some conclude, just because it is hot when they gain consciousness, that they have died and gone to hell, even though life goes on normally around them.

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Posted by on July 29, 2011 in Articles, Trivia


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171. So Many Flags

The 15 stripes flag

For the majority of its life, the United States flag has had far less than 50 stars. In fact the number tends to move a lot, since its inception the United States flag has changed 26 times.

The original was only 13 stars and 13 stripes, that lasted for 18 years. The Vermont and Kentucky joined, the flag was changed, increasing the number of stripes to its maximum. 1975 to 1818 America managed to have 15 stars and 15 stripes. then more states joined and someone, namely President James Monroe, decided to take away the two extra stripes and just add a new star for each state.

Thanks to the rapidly increasing number of states, the United States did run through flags very quickly, in fact there have been nine flags in total which have only been in use for a year before being phased out. Unlike Denmark which has had the same flag for at least 500 years.

In this vein, one can praise the United States for being prepared; in case some new states are suddenly added the United States Army Institute of Heraldry has ready-designed flags with up to 56 stars. The current American one has lasted 50 years, nothing compared to Denmark, but a long time for the U.S. In fact it is their flag with the longest ‘lifespan’ so to speak. Maybe it’s time to change it. Possibly add a state here, or take one away, the possibilities are endless.

Bonus Fact : There are 6 U.S. flags on the moon, that’s more flags than any other nation – for the moment at least.

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Posted by on July 10, 2011 in Articles, Misconceptions, Trivia


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166. ‘Clever Hans’ the Mathematical Horse

In the early twentieth century there was a spectacle, a horse called ‘Clever Hans,’ whom the owner claimed could add, subtract, multiply, divide, work with fractions, tell time, keep track of the calendar, differentiate musical tones, and read, spell, and understand German. Truly a spectacle, bolstered by the sudden interest in animal intelligence thanks to the then fairly recent publication of Darwin’s, ‘On The Origin Of Species.’

Propelled by this interest ‘Clever Hans’ quickly gained repute and fame for both himself and his trainer, Wilhelm Van Osten, a mathematics teacher and an amateur, but in this case successful, horse trainer. Van Osten held spectacles for which he never charged entry, he would gather a crowd, ask Hans a question and Hans would tap the answer out until the right number was reached. For example he would ask,’If the eighth day of the month comes on a Tuesday, what is the date of the following Friday?’ The Hans would tap his hoof the requisite number of times(in this case 11).

Question could be submitted either verbally or in written form. The success of the spectacle allowed ‘Hans’ and van Osten to travel widely across Germany and in fact the whole event was featured at one point on page six of the New York Times. Then came queries, exactly how did the horse do it? Due tot he popularity and wide speculation the German board of education put together a committee of 13 people in order to test the scientific claims being made. They were known as the Hans committee. Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted by on July 5, 2011 in Articles, Misconceptions, Trivia


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165. The Pitch Drop Experiment

Pitch is a very tough substance, used to waterproof boats and traditional burning torches. At room temperature you can shatter it with a hammer. The black substance, so dark that it is the source of the term ‘pitch-black’, seemed to be a solid at room temperature; Professor Thomas Parnell disagreed, and set up one of the longest science experiments ever, to prove his point. This became known a the ‘Pitch Drop Experiment.’

The preparation itself took years, in 1927 he prepared a sample in a sealed funnel, then heated it. Three years later it had cooled and settled down. In 1930 the bottom of the funnel was cut, giving the pitch free sway to plummet downwards under the effects of gravity. So began one of the slowest drips the world has ever witnessed. Each drop takes between eight and nine years to form, but form and fall they did. Professor Thomas Parnell only ever lived past two drops of pitch before his death in 1948. The experiment continued without him.

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Posted by on July 4, 2011 in Articles, Trivia


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152. Can I Make A Sun Out Of Anything?

As you may have noticed, the sun is rather hot, at its minimum temperature it reaches temperatures as low as those found in the core of the earth. That massive thermonuclear ball in the sky is enough to heat up our whole planet, even with 12 hour breaks.

The sun works hard to produce our heat. There is one odd thing; as long as you keep the mass the same, you can make a sun nearly as hot as our own. The key happens to be the results of so much mass, the force of gravity and the pressure it exerts.

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Posted by on June 21, 2011 in Articles, Trivia


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144. Gone Pear Shaped

The earth is officially ‘pear-shaped’ – not a round sphere as is commonly believed. Now do not get the wrong idea about this, it is not shaped like some huge interstellar fruit, that, while interesting would be plain ridiculous. It is barely pear-shaped, but pear-shaped enough.

Let us start at the beginning. We used to think the earth was flat, in the case of the Mayans we thought it had 4 corners and was placed on the back of a giant crocodile in a lily pond which in turn was on top of five different coloured trees. Then around 2200 years ago the Greeks, specifically Eratosthenes calculated that the earth was round and even made a fairly accurate estimation of its circumference.

Then comes Columbus. As you can tell, he did not discover that the world was round, it had been known for well over 1000 years before he was even born. He in fact set out to find a new and better trading route with parts of Asia, and failed. He did however succeed in another way by correctly believing the earth was shaped like the aforementioned cosmic fruit. In fact he claimed that he didn’t discover a better trading route to Asia because of the bulging part of the pear near the stalk. To be clear the earth does not have a stalk, but it is definitely a little pear shaped.

You see, the earth is irregular, some parts are rock, some are water and others are melted rock. This means it stretches when forces are applied to it. First thing, the earth spins,the equator spinning the fastest. This means more force on the equator and causes a bulge.

That’s the reason the earth is not round, now here comes the pearification. The earth is irregular remember, so it stretches bizarrely, this means it is not an oblate spheroid or a squashed sphere. Instead the bulge is not on the equator but just south. So now you know, the earth is pear-shaped, or Piriform if you want the correct adjective.

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Posted by on June 13, 2011 in Articles, Misconceptions, Trivia


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143. The Pain of the Painless

Congenital insensitivity to pain(CIP), an extremely rare condition in which a person can touch, feel heat and perceive moment. It just happens that they cannot feel pain, it is genetic. It seems like a blessing on paper, ‘No pain! Huzzah, now I can drink really hot Tea and look cool.‘ Ignore that false logic; it is a disability and make no mistake, it is a serious one.

Pain is when your body and the world collaborate to perform basic psychology – negative reinforcement. Something happens, you feel pain, pain is bad so you don’t do thing again. It is this logic and defence system that teaches us not to poke at our eyes or put our hands into fire. Without the nervous system warning them, those with the condition struggle. Even with the most attentive mindset the number of small cuts and bruises amassed is extraordinary. The oddest part of the condition for many outsiders is not the more rapid accumulation of damage, it’s the fact that unless they look at it, the injury will go on unnoticed. One child suffering from the condition, Gabby Gingras, broke her jaw at age 2 and it went unnoticed until it became infected 6 weeks later. The consequence was 6 weeks on an IV drip.

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Posted by on June 12, 2011 in Articles, Misconceptions


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