Archive for the ‘10 Urban Maths Myths Busted’ Category


1. The Popeye Myth

July 9, 2013

The Popeye Myth is that spinach contains lots of iron.

According to Brainpickings website

pic 1 popeye1

Back in 1870, Erich Von Wolf , a German chemist, examined the amount of iron within spinach, among many other green vegetables. In recording his findings, he accidentally misplaced a decimal point when transcribing data from his notebook, changing the iron content in spinach from 3.5 milligrams of iron in a 100-gram serving of spinach, to 35 milligrams.  It was corrected in 1937, but too late the myth was well established.

popeye 2

This study inspired the Popeye Cartoon character who gets  colossal strength eating cans of spinach.

Unfortunately, it was just a maths blooper. The good news is that:

Popeye Myth Busted.

Girl making face at spinach

Spinach does not have that much more iron than other vegetables.


2. You should drink 8 glasses of water a day

July 9, 2013

According to Roy Britt at LiveScience

glass waterglass waterglass waterglass water……….glass water
glass waterglass water
glass water

The claim that you need eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day has been debunked.

Drs. Dan Negoianu and Stanley Goldfarb at the University of Pennsylvania reviewed published clinical studies on the topic and foundno data to suggest people need to stick to the “8 x 8” rule. “Indeed, it is unclear where this recommendation came from,” they write in an editorial in the June 2008 issue of the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology.

The 8 Glasses of Water Myth Busted



3. Chewing Gum Stays in your stomach for 7 years

July 9, 2013

pic 6 chew

According to How Stuff Works

mouth full

Pediatric gastroenterologist David Milov told the magazine Scientific American that he can say “with complete certainty” that gum does not stay in you for seven years.

You will find more than you ever wanted to know about the structure of chewing gum (It’s a rubber-based substance though now mostly synthetic) and it’s digestion at the above website and here.

pic 5 chewy

Sometimes, it feels like chewing gum will stay on your shoe for 7 years!!

Chewing Gum Stays in your stomach for 7 years Myth BUSTED.


4 Chew food 32 times to lose weight

July 9, 2013

pic 7 eat sasha

According to Livestrong


No studies have been conducted.

But they add that eating food mechanically may just create a different sort of eating disorder.

Mind you, with Mathspig cooking, you HAVE to chew 32 times.

Chew food 32 times to lose weight Myth Busted.


5. It takes 43 muscles to frown and only 17 to smile

July 9, 2013

Can’t those scientists count?

baby laugh…….grin…….pic 9 smile.……

According to Shamini Bundell on Null Hypothesis

baby frown 2..angry babuy.pic 8 frown..

….Various experts have tried counting the muscles involved. Mainly they argue over how to define a smile and a frown and come up with different answers.

Either way most of the numbers quoted at you by irritatingly cheerful people are entirely made up.

As Shamini noted “It takes 37 muscles to frown and 22 to smile, but it only takes 4 to reach out and punch someone in the face.”

43 muscles to smile myth and nose busted.


6. Hiccup Cure 1: Counting backwards from 100

July 9, 2013

One hiccup cure involves counting backwards from 100.

That’s maths folks! And maths seems a less painful cure than poking yourself in the eyes, drinking water with your nose blocked, drinking water through your nose or putting your fingers in your ears.
hiccup 21

An extensive post on Wiki How notes:

hiccup 8
‘Interestingly, some of these folk remedies are on the correct path by having at least some basis in the science of the hiccup and singultus. With home remedies, the methods that attempt to relax or stimulate the diaphragm tend to be the most effective.’

hiccup 15

Counting backwards from 100 hiccup Cure

not so much busted as

being as good as any other folk remedy.


7 Hiccup Cure II: Counting Forward

July 9, 2013

There are so many Folk Remedies for Hiccups you would think they cause some kind of madness.

Counting forward in fives is one such cure. It may not help your hiccups but it is good for learning your tables.

pic 12 hiccup cure……pic 11 GET-RID-HICCUPS-huge…..pic 13 paper bag….

hiccup cure 5…………

You will find everything you need to know about the anatomy of the hiccup and one bad-ass cure (involving aforementioned anatomy) here.

Counting forwards hiccup Cure Busted, sort of.


8. You’re never more than 6ft away from a rat

July 9, 2013

This is obviously ridiculous from your own experience. If you stand in the middle of a road or in the middle of a basketball or tennis court or football field and you don’t see a rat as in a rodent then you disprove the myth.

According to Animal Planet:

pic 14 ratCool rat, man!

Many rodent-related myths focus on how many rats exist per capita in any given metropolis — often on par with the human population — but that’s pure farce.

It stems in large part from a coincidental study conducted in the early 1900s, which vaguely pegged England’s rat population at about 40 million — or 1 acre of cultivated land per rat. Since at the time approximately 40 million people lived in England, people have long equated these two unrelated statistics to infer that modern cities contain equal numbers of rats and people.

In other words, this myth has hung around for over 100 years!

pic 15 rat

Rat Myth Busted

Could this be 6 fleas of separation?


9 The Memory of a Gold Fish is 3 Seconds

July 9, 2013

pic 16 goldfish

According to the ABC news this myth was busted by a 15 year old Adelaide school boy named Rory Stokes. He fed his goldfish near a Red Lego brick . The fish started anticipatiing food near the brick. He took it away and replaced it several weeks later. The fish remembered the red brick!!! More here.

pic 17


The Memory of a Gold Fish is 3 Seconds Myth Busted