Monday, April 14

 

Tuesday, September 25

The Debunker: Can You See the Great Wall of China from the Moon?

by Ken Jennings

In honor of the late Neil Armstrong and the Apollo astronauts, we’ve asked Jeopardy! champ Ken Jennings to run down some common misconceptions that lots of people still believe about the moon. Did you know it’s not even made out of green cheese? Science ruins everything.

Moon Myth #4: The Great Wall of China Is the Only Manmade Object Visible from the Moon.

This myth was always slightly silly. From the surface of the Moon, the Earth only looks about four times bigger than a full moon does to us, so that’s about the size of a jam jar lid held at arm’s length. The lunar explorers of the Apollo era described the Earth at that size as a brightly lit swirl of blue and white and brown—they had a tough time making out continents, much less a brown line only 30 feet wide. That would be like claiming to see a human hair from two miles away.

read more…

 

Tuesday, September 18

The Debunker: Is The Moon Bigger Nearer The Horizon?

by Ken Jennings

In honor of the late Neil Armstrong and the Apollo astronauts, we’ve asked Jeopardy! champ Ken Jennings to run down some common misconceptions that lots of people still believe about the moon. Did you know it’s not even made out of green cheese? Science ruins everything.

Moon Myth #3: The Moon Is Larger In The Sky When It's Nearer The Horizon.

This impression is so convincing that it can be hard to convince people that it is, in fact, a psychological phenomenon and not an astronomical one. Don’t feel bad: even Aristotle was so suckered by the illusion that he thought it must be caused by atmospheric effects or something. But no: if we go by physical factors alone (refraction and actual distance), the Moon actually appears 1.5 percent smaller when it’s rising or setting! So why does it look so much bigger?

read more…

 

Tuesday, September 11

The Debunker: Do People Go Crazy During A Full Moon?

by Ken Jennings

In honor of the late Neil Armstrong and the Apollo astronauts, we’ve asked Jeopardy! champ Ken Jennings to run down some common misconceptions that lots of people still believe about the moon. Did you know it’s not even made out of green cheese? Science ruins everything.

Moon Myth #2: Human Behavior Gets Nuts During a Full Moon.

Fully 45 percent of American college students, according to one survey, believe the old saw that a full moon makes people a little wacky. This idea dates back to the ancient Greeks. They observed the near-correlation between the length of the lunar cycle and women’s menstrual cycles (a link that’s still controversial, but which many statisticians now believe to be an evolutionary coincidence), and they knew that the Moon’s orbit tugged at the ocean tides. In that case, why couldn’t it tug on the fluids in human brains and bodies as well? In fact, the Moon’s phases were so closely tied to the way the ancients saw mental illness that our word “lunatic” comes from the Latin “luna,” meaning Moon.

read more…

 

Tuesday, September 04

The Debunker: Is There A "Dark Side" Of The Moon?

by Ken Jennings

Last month, Neil Armstrong died at age 82. One of the best test pilots of his generation, Armstrong thought that his chances to be an aviation pioneer had passed him by in 1947 when his future colleague Chuck Yeager became the first human to fly faster than speed of sound. That all changed when he entered the space program, of course, and in 1969, Armstrong made history when he became the first man to walk on the moon. (If that doesn’t ring a bell to you kids, just picture the astronaut on the MTV Video Music Award.) The day of his August 31 memorial service was, appropriately enough, a “blue moon”—the second full moon in the same month, an astronomical oddity that won’t happen again until 2015. In honor of Neil Armstrong and the Apollo astronauts, we’ve asked Jeopardy! champ Ken Jennings to run down some common misconceptions that lots of people still believe about the moon. Did you know it’s not even made out of green cheese? Science ruins everything.

Moon Myth #1: I’ll See You on the Dark Side of the Moon.

It should be obvious that, indeed, one half of the Moon is always lit by the Sun, and one half is dark. But, despite the impression you may have gotten from bad science-fiction movies and prog-rock albums, it’s not always the same side...



read more…