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13 Facts You Probably Learned In School That Are Actually False

Pluto is still a planet *in our hearts,* though. (Inspired by these answers on Quora.)

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1. The Great Wall of China can be seen from space.

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IN REALITY: According to NASA, the Great Wall isn't really visible to the unaided eye from orbit, and especially isn't visible from the moon. You can, however, see it in radar images taken from space.

2. Electrons revolve around the nucleus of an atom.

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IN REALITY: Electrons don't actually orbit the nucleus in neat little elliptical paths, like in the GIF above. Instead, they likely undulate around the nucleus in a complex series of ripples. Read way more here.

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5. Columbus was an innocent explorer who was only trying to discover the new world.

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IN REALITY: Many scholars now agree that his four voyages around the Caribbean were marked by pillaging and a fledgling slave trade that looked a lot like genocide.

Writes the Telegraph: "Columbus seized men, women, and children to take back to Spain and parade like circus animals. Most died on the voyage, and all were dead within six months. This spurred him to be more ambitious on his second voyage, in which he selected 550 of the best specimens he could find, and allowed his men to take whoever else they wanted, which turned out to be another 600. The journey back to Europe was so debilitating for the captives that Columbus ended up throwing over 200 corpses overboard. There are no records of what happened to the 600 taken by his men."

On later trips, Columbus and his fellows Spaniards brutally slaughtered and enslaved native inhabitants in search of gold.

6. Humans have only five senses.

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IN REALITY: We have more than five ways of perceiving the world. Some other human senses include hunger or thirst, movement, pressure, itchiness and that feeling you get when you know have to pee.

7. Lemmings hurl themselves off cliffs in droves.

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IN REALITY: One lemming, according to legend, will throw itself into the sea to commit suicide, and the others will blindly follow. You can trace this legend back to Disney, which depicted this alleged lemming behavior in a

1958 documentary called White Wilderness. Biologists, who argue that lemmings don't commit mass suicide in real life behavorial patterns, say Disney staged the footage by "placing them on turntables to create a frenzied migration effect and then herding them off a cliff and into the water."

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9. Robert Frost's "The Road Not Taken" is about self-reliance and forging your own path.

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IN REALITY: Frost's last stanza reads more sarcastically in context:

"I shall be telling this with a sigh

Somewhere ages and ages hence:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I —

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.

As Orange is the New Black's Piper opines on the show: ""So the point of the poem is that everyone wants to look back and think that their choices matter. But in reality, s--t just happens the way that it happens, and it doesn’t matter."

10. The blood inside your body is blue, and that's because it's deoxygenated.

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IN REALITY: Blood is always red, even inside your veins; veins appear blue under the layers of your skin. Your subcutaneous fat absorbs low frequencies in light, leaving only the highly energetic blue light to pass through your skin.

11. There's no gravity in space.

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IN REALITY: Gravity is everywhere in the solar system. On Earth, we feel gravity because it's pulling us towards the floor or ground. In space, shuttles are in a state of continuous free-fall towards earth, so astronauts appear weightless because they and the shuttle are falling at the same speed.

12. We only use 10% of our brains.

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IN REALITY: Though at certain moments we may only be using 10% of our gray matter, there's absolutely no evidence that we have hefty portions of unused space. "It turns out though, that we use virtually every part of the brain, and that [most of] the brain is active almost all the time," Barry Gordon, a neurologist at Johns Hopkins, says. "Let's put it this way: the brain represents three percent of the body's weight and uses 20 percent of the body's energy."

"What are some 'facts' still being taught in school, that have been proven to be false?" originally appeared on Quora: The best answer to any question.

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