Take a break from your fun in the August sun to ask yourself: what do I really know about this giant glowing globe of plasma shining down on my picnic/game of Ultimate Frisbee/clothing-optional beach right now? Given that the Sun is what makes life on Earth possible, it's appalling how much misinformation we've been fed about our nearest star. Speaking of our nearest stars: Ken Jennings, that one guy from Jeopardy!, may not be as bright as the Sun, but he's an expert on debunking myths and misconceptions. All month, he'll be lighting up our stellar misconceptions regarding the sun.
The Debunker: Do Sunflowers Turn to Face the Sun?
In English, it's not really clear whether the sunflower is named for the bloom's resemblance to a traditional yellow-rayed sun, or for its reputation for following the Sun across the daytime sky. In some other languages, however, there's no ambiguity. In French, the sunflower is the tournesol—the "sun-turner." In Spanish and Italian, the translation is the same: girasol or girasole. Besides the fact that it produces seeds that baseball players like to spit, this appears to be the sunflower's great claim to fame: everybody knows that it turns its face during the day to track the Sun's movement.