Monday, August 24

The Debunker: Is the Earth Closest to the Sun in the Summer?

by Ken Jennings

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: Is the Earth Closest to the Sun in the Summer?

Yes, the Earth is closer to the sun in the summer! But only if you live in the Southern Hemisphere. If you're not Argentine or Australian, read on.

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Tuesday, August 18

The Debunker: Are Sunspots Dark?

by Ken Jennings

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: Are Sunspots Dark?

You've probably seen images of sunspots, patches on the face of the Sun where strong magnetic fields are keeping the Sun's normal convection in check. As a result, less energy flows from the Sun's hot interior up to the photosphere, and we get those cool, dark spots—almost black, in the NASA photos you're probably picturing. The effect on the "solar weather" is noticeable enough that some scientists have linked sunspots to climate changes on Earth.

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Tuesday, August 11

The Debunker: Do Sunflowers Turn to Face the Sun?

by Ken Jennings

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.

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Tuesday, August 04

The Debunker: Is the Sun Yellow?

by Ken Jennings

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: Is the Sun Yellow?

You'd think you'd be on pretty safe ground calling the Sun yellow, wouldn't you? It certainly looks yellow. Scientists call it a "yellow dwarf." Even Superman says he gets his super-powers from Earth's yellow sun—so much brighter than the red sun of his native Krypton.

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Tuesday, August 26

The Debunker: How Often Did Lassie Have to Rescue Timmy from a Well?

by Ken Jennings

Dog lovers: could there be a better month than August to salute our canine companions? After all, August 10 is the day poor Rin Tin Tin died, and it’s the day Snoopy celebrates his birthday, in a 1968 Peanuts strip. Two weeks later, on August 26, it’s National Dog Day, according to the Animal Miracle Foundation & Network. To celebrate the dog days of summer, we’ve unleashed Jeopardy!’s Ken Jennings, who will correct some of man’s worst misconceptions about man’s best friend.

 

The Debunker: How Often Did Lassie Have to Rescue Timmy from a Well?

Comedians have often poked fun at the remarkable communication skills of TV’s heroic collie, Lassie. Despite not speaking English or having opposable thumbs, Lassie is always able to get help appropriate to the specific evil has befallen her master. In the traditional version of this joke, a few quick barks from Lassie are enough for owners to get the picture: “What’s that? Timmy fell down a well?”

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Tuesday, August 19

The Debunker: Can Dogs See Colors?

by Ken Jennings

Dog lovers: could there be a better month than August to salute our canine companions? After all, August 10 is the day poor Rin Tin Tin died, and it’s the day Snoopy celebrates his birthday, in a 1968 Peanuts strip. Two weeks later, on August 26, it’s National Dog Day, according to the Animal Miracle Foundation & Network. To celebrate the dog days of summer, we’ve unleashed Jeopardy!’s Ken Jennings, who will correct some of man’s worst misconceptions about man’s best friend.

 

The Debunker: Can Dogs See Colors?

Fans of the children’s book hero Encyclopedia Brown may remember the 1966 classic “Case of the Boy Bullfighter,” in which we learn that young Miguel Sebastian must have lied about his dog being able to see the color red—because dogs are color blind! A humiliated Miguel returns his ill-gotten loot, a stolen tooth collection, and has his mom repair the seat of Charlie’s red pants. A happy ending!

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Tuesday, August 12

The Debunker: Are French Poodles Really French?

by Ken Jennings

Dog lovers: could there be a better month than August to salute our canine companions? After all, August 10 is the day poor Rin Tin Tin died, and it’s the day Snoopy celebrates his birthday, in a 1968 Peanuts strip. Two weeks later, on August 26, it’s National Dog Day, according to the Animal Miracle Foundation & Network. To celebrate the dog days of summer, we’ve unleashed Jeopardy!’s Ken Jennings, who will correct some of man’s worst misconceptions about man’s best friend.

 

The Debunker: Are French Poodles Really French?

With their affectionate personalities, big brains, and hypoallergenic coats, poodles are one of the most beloved dog breeds on earth. In the United States, they were the most popular breed for much of the late 20th century, and still hang in the top ten today. Poodles are well-known as the national dog of France, where they’re called caniches—and what could seem more French than a dainty white poodle at a dog show, its fur sculpted into ridiculously stylish puffs, its nose haughtily in the air?

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Tuesday, August 05

The Debunker: Is a Dog’s Mouth Really Cleaner Than Yours?

by Ken Jennings

Dog lovers: could there be a better month than August to salute our canine companions? After all, August 10 is the day poor Rin Tin Tin died, and it’s the day Snoopy celebrates his birthday, in a 1968 Peanuts strip. Two weeks later, on August 26, it’s National Dog Day, according to the Animal Miracle Foundation & Network. To celebrate the dog days of summer, we’ve unleashed Jeopardy!’s Ken Jennings, who will correct some of man’s worst misconceptions about man’s best friend.

 

The Debunker: Is a Dog’s Mouth Really Cleaner Than Yours?

You’ve probably heard the old saw about the counterintuitive cleanliness of a dog’s mouth. It often gets trotted out by embarrassed pet lovers when they catch the look of disgust in your eye as their Irish setter’s tongue has its way with their hands/face/tonsils. Sure, sure, this is a mouth that spends all day grubbing around in dirt, feces, its own genitals, other dogs’ butts, etc., but somehow it’s so clean you can eat off of it. Right.

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