Tuesday, August 12, 2008

List of Common Misconceptions

Per one of my favorite web resources, Wikipedia. Here are a few examples:

1. Christopher Columbus's efforts to obtain support for his voyages were not hampered by a European belief in a flat Earth.[3] In fact, sailors and navigators of the time knew that the Earth was spherical, but (correctly) disagreed with Columbus' estimates of the distance to the Indies (see Flat Earth). If the Americas did not exist, and Columbus had continued to the Indies (even putting aside the threat of mutiny he was under) he would have run out of supplies before reaching them at the rate he was traveling.

2. The Coriolis effect does not determine the direction that water rotates in a bathtub drain or a flushing toilet. The Coriolis force is relatively small; it appears over large scales (like weather systems) or in systems such as the Foucault pendulum in which the small influence is allowed to accumulate over time. In a bathtub or toilet, the flow of the water over the basin itself produces forces that dwarf the Coriolis force. In addition, most toilets inject water into the bowl at an angle, causing a spin too fast to be affected by the Coriolis effect.[33]