Now You Know

7th January 2015


Here is a list of 10 commonly held beliefs which are actually myths. If you didn’t know before, you do now!

1. Romans used the vomitorium to empty their stomachs so they could keep eating

In fact, the word was used to describe the passageways in amphitheatres through which thousands of people would pour in and out of stadiums.

2. Bulls hate red

Bulls, like other cattle, are colour blind when it comes to red. It is believed that it is instead the motion of the bull fighter’s cloth which provokes the animal.

3. Iron maidens were medieval torture devices

Iron maidens were actually invented in the 18th Century and evidence suggests they were curiosities displayed in museums and circuses, posing as authentic devices. However, they have been used as a means of torture and evidence has been found of their use even in this century.

4. Chewing gum stays in your stomach for seven years

As it is indigestible, chewing gum passes straight through the body like any other small object. However, there have been cases where large volumes have been ingested causing obstructions in the bowels, so it’s not advised!

5. Water rotates in different directions in different hemispheres

Not true. The idea is that the rotation of the Earth affects the path of moving objects (like water) – this is called the Coriolis Effect and is a real thing. However, the idea that it affects water draining is just a myth and has never been proved. Many things can impact the way water rotates down the plug hole and you will probably see it moving in different directions if you check multiple sinks in the same house!

6. Goldfish have a 3 second memory

Several studies have proved that a goldfish’s memory can be measured in months, not seconds!

7. Muscle turns to fat when you stop exercising

Muscle and fat are comprised of different types of cells so this is not possible. The myth probably came about because people who exercise a lot eat a lot. If they stop exercising but don’t adjust their diet they will gain weight and fat because they are not burning off the amount of calories they used to.

8. Shop bought red meat is full of blood

Most of the juice you get when you cook meat is not blood, but water from the meat mixed with myoglobin which is a protein. The same effect can be seen when you cook white meat like chicken – only this time the liquid is slightly milky in colour.

9. The tongue map

There are no different sections on the tongue for each taste (bitter, sour, sweet, salty and – sometimes included – umami). The map was an early 19th Century invention based on researched which recognised that different areas of the tongue registered flavours to different degrees. However, research since then has found that all flavours can be tasted on all areas of the tongue and the difference between intensity is negligible.

10. Alcohol keeps you warm

Actually, it drops core body temperature. Alcohol only makes you think you are warmer because it dilates warm blood vessels near the skin, which could be quite dangerous if you don’t realise how cold you are!

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