11 Brilliantly Inaccurate Scientific Explanations

A few years back we wrote about a hilarious blog called Fake Science, which deals in intentional pseudo-science. Now, the creator of that blog is unleashing Fake Science 101, a 272-page textbook for the fake-fact-loving science nerd in all of us. We've teamed up with the man behind Fake Science, Phil Edwards, to share some snippets of the book.

1. The Wheel

Scientists' first objective was to invent an easy way to transport goods: the wheel. It would be much easier than rolling things over children who were lying down. However, the round shape of the wheel always gave the cave men difficulty. Their engineering was undercut by the absence of circular objects and the inability to remember exactly what a circle was. This stalled development of both transportation and the coaster.

2. Sir Isaac Newton

Born in the 1600s, Sir Isaac Newton was a renowned physicist. One day, he was sitting under a tree when a round object fell on his head. Like any great scientist, Newton did not run away. Instead, he sampled the round object. It had a red hue and brown stem. He bit into it and was pleasantly surprised. He had just discovered the apple.

3. The Enlightenment

The Scientific Revolution culminated in the Age of Enlightenment in the 1600s and 1700s, during which thinkers and scientists realized they could be far more productive if they turned on the lights. This early American poster demonstrates an Enlightenment era scientific discovery: a chopped-up snake usually dies.

4. The Umlaut Galaxy

There are countless galaxies in the universe, largely because the person in charge of counting them gets distracted around the billion mark. These galaxies each have different traits but are all bound by their gravitational fields and a common cultural background. After German scientists discovered the Umlaut Galaxy, they decided to incorporate it into their own language.

5. The Sun

For millions of years, the sun has been nature’s tanning bed. Perfectly calibrated to give humans a soft brown coating and great highlights, the sun’s function is not purely cosmetic. As this diagram shows, the sun’s triangular rays are always at exactly 46 degrees.

6. Makin’ Babies

Sperm invade the egg, unless this is a leftover picture of Mars. These sperm contain a male’s genetic information and are strongly sexually attracted to the egg. The egg contains a female’s genetic information and is less attracted to the sperm but chooses one anyway because it’s too lazy to keep waiting. If the sperm and egg are in love, based on a relationship of mutual support and respect, they create a new baby.

7. The Statue of Liberty

Did you know that the Statue of Liberty wasn’t always green? Her color changed because of age, but not the same way an old person’s skin does. In the Statue of Liberty’s case, it was something called “rust” that turned her skin green. Before the copper in the Statue of Liberty rusted, she was a brownish hue and wore a lovely gingham.

8. Oil

Known for its use in the manufacture of gasoline, oil is also popular in the hair of executives who sell it. Found underground and undersea, oil is easily detected through a little digging, explosion, more digging, refining, and a second series of explosions. Brave cowboys tamed the oil fields of Texas so we could drive ATVs.

9. The Ocean

Oceans have been important in the past and will become more important in the future, as we continue to melt the polar ice caps so the water doesn’t get too hot. When one ocean covers the entire Earth, geography will require much less class time.

10. Rivers

There are far too many rivers in the world to include in this article, especially since they would get your computer wet. However, notable rivers are so large they can be seen from space, which gives you something to look at once the moon gets boring. This map from the 1800s shows the importance of mapping rivers for navigating trade.

11. Friction

Friction occurs when things get in the way of moving objects or otherwise slow their passage. Low-friction objects can make things slide longer, which is why you’re encouraged to drive on icy roads in order to save gas. High friction can also have positive effects, since sandpaper slides help playtime last longer.

Bleat Along to Classic Holiday Tunes With This Goat Christmas Album

Feeling a little Grinchy this month? The Sweden branch of ActionAid, an international charity dedicated to fighting global poverty, wants to goat—errr ... goad—you into the Christmas spirit with their animal-focused holiday album: All I Want for Christmas is a Goat.

Fittingly, it features the shriek-filled vocal stylings of a group of festive farm animals bleating out classics like “Jingle Bells,” “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” and “O Come All Ye Faithful.” The recording may sound like a silly novelty release, but there's a serious cause behind it: It’s intended to remind listeners how the animals benefit impoverished communities. Goats can live in arid nations that are too dry for farming, and they provide their owners with milk and wool. In fact, the only thing they can't seem to do is, well, sing. 

You can purchase All I Want for Christmas is a Goat on iTunes and Spotify, or listen to a few songs from its eight-track selection below.

What Are the 12 Days of Christmas?

Everyone knows to expect a partridge in a pear tree from your true love on the first day of Christmas ... But when is the first day of Christmas?

You'd think that the 12 days of Christmas would lead up to the big day—that's how countdowns work, as any year-end list would illustrate—but in Western Christianity, "Christmas" actually begins on December 25th and ends on January 5th. According to liturgy, the 12 days signify the time in between the birth of Christ and the night before Epiphany, which is the day the Magi visited bearing gifts. This is also called "Twelfth Night." (Epiphany is marked in most Western Christian traditions as happening on January 6th, and in some countries, the 12 days begin on December 26th.)

As for the ubiquitous song, it is said to be French in origin and was first printed in England in 1780. Rumors spread that it was a coded guide for Catholics who had to study their faith in secret in 16th-century England when Catholicism was against the law. According to the Christian Resource Institute, the legend is that "The 'true love' mentioned in the song is not an earthly suitor, but refers to God Himself. The 'me' who receives the presents refers to every baptized person who is part of the Christian Faith. Each of the 'days' represents some aspect of the Christian Faith that was important for children to learn."

In debunking that story, Snopes excerpted a 1998 email that lists what each object in the song supposedly symbolizes:

2 Turtle Doves = the Old and New Testaments
3 French Hens = Faith, Hope and Charity, the Theological Virtues
4 Calling Birds = the Four Gospels and/or the Four Evangelists
5 Golden Rings = the first Five Books of the Old Testament, the "Pentateuch", which gives the history of man's fall from grace.
6 Geese A-laying = the six days of creation
7 Swans A-swimming = the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, the seven sacraments
8 Maids A-milking = the eight beatitudes
9 Ladies Dancing = the nine Fruits of the Holy Spirit
10 Lords A-leaping = the ten commandments
11 Pipers Piping = the eleven faithful apostles
12 Drummers Drumming = the twelve points of doctrine in the Apostle's Creed

There is pretty much no historical evidence pointing to the song's secret history, although the arguments for the legend are compelling. In all likelihood, the song's "code" was invented retroactively.

Hidden meaning or not, one thing is definitely certain: You have "The Twelve Days of Christmas" stuck in your head right now.


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