Historical Events  Science
Historical Events  Science
Leonardo Da Vinci

Not the contact lenses we know today

MMDE: Leonardo Da Vinci did not invent contact lenses

Current: Leonardo Da Vinci invented contact lenses

The idea of contact lenses seems like a modern medical advancement.

As it happens, in 1508 none other than Leonardo Da Vinci described the concept in great detail in his "Codex of the eye, Manual D".

They weren't the small modern eye lenses we know today, but the description proves he was perfectly well aware of the properties of light refraction, and the mechanism required to tune it for vision using a contact substance, his case water.

He wasn't doing this to correct faulty vision, but to enhance what the eye could already see, much in the same way a telescope does.

Historical Events  Science
London Bridge

What made the dodos extinct?

MMDE: Humans ate them

Current: Humans introduced animals which ate their eggs and food

The poor dodo lived for many thousands of years on its island paradise of Mauritius, where it had no natural predators. This meant being flightless was not a problem, but unfortunately this was it's downfall, because within 100 years of humans settling, it was extinct. The widely agreed date for this extinction is 1681.

The popular idea is that humans ate them, and this myth is so widespread it comes as quite a surprise to many to find out it's meat was terrible to eat, and this wasn't the cause of their extinction. In fact it was down to the pigs, rats and even monkeys which humans introduced to the island which then went and ate the eggs, and competed for food, of the birds. 

Historical Events  Science
Apple mouse

Steve Jobs and the Mouse

MMDE: Steve Jobs stole the idea for the mouse from Xerox

Current: Steve Jobs did not steal the idea for the mouse from Xerox

There's a story going round in tech circles that Steve Jobs got the idea for the mouse when he saw a clunky prototype on a visit to Xerox labs in 1979. 

In fact, when the first Apple mouse became available commercially in 1984, a Xerox computer featuring one had been on sale for years. Since you can't steal an idea for which products are aleady available, because they are in the public domain, the notion he did so is incorrect.

He definitely did improve on the physical implementation, making them much easier to use, more reliable, more stylish and much more affordable, but that's a different argument.

Historical Events  Science
British teeth

How do British teeth compare?

MMDE: Amongst the unhealthiest in the world

Current: Amongst the healthiest in the world

There's a popular feeling, outside of Britain for obvious reasons, that British teeth are amongst the unhealthiest in the world.

The BBC covered this and found the results to be surprising.

It found that as far back as 1963 the figure for the average number of missing or filled in teeth was 5.6, but since then the figure has steadily dropped and actually passed that of the US in the mid-1990's.

Movies and TV shows poking fun at this stereotype, such as Austin Powers or The Simpsons, haven't exactly helped the British cause in this respect.

Historical Events  Science
Frog

Will stay in water till boiled

MMDE: Yes

Current: No

Often, you'll hear people describing the pattern of a set of small, incremental changes being made to something, without that something realising they all add up to unnoticed disaster, as the "boiling frog" scenario. Examples might be many small tax changes or laws introduced by a government, which, if it were to do tham all at once, would cause panic. Instead it does them slowly, with each change having very little effect on it's own.

This is said to be how a frog behaves in cold water when you slowly heat it up. The frog stays in until it's too late, whereas if it were to have jumped in when the water was getting warmer, it would have jumped out immediately having seen the danger.

Except it's not true.

Experiments, hopefully which never actually got to hot for our little green friends, show in fact they jump out very early in any case.

Historical Events  Science
First self driving car

First self driving car?

MMDE: 1988

Current: 1968

More tech before it's time, and again this is related to cars. First we had the world's first car phone from 1910, then the world's first car to hit 100kph being electric in 1899 and finally the world's first traffic light being in 1868.

Now it's the world's first self-driving car, which, like these others, most people think are a relatively new invention. Think again - it happened in 1968.

The car is a heavilty modified Mercedes Benz 250 Automatic, and was developed as part of Continental's experimental automotive R&D in the 1960's - the "E-Auto".

The car is controlled by a wire on the roads surface, meaning the occupants didn't need to touch the steering wheel. Sensors in the vehicle could detect when it had veered off-track and make the correct steering changes needed to get it back. 

Historical Events  Science
Banannas

Bananas - Which way up do they grow?

MMDE: Fixed at top, pointing downwards

Current: Fixed at bottom, pointing upwards

Here's a peculiar one - which way up do bananas grow?

Some people are claiming they don't remember them growing the way they appear today, i.e. with the fixed part at the bottom and the fruit pointing upwards, and are pointing to this as an MMDE.

This could get confusing, because therer are some rarer types which do grow downwards. However, the sight of a bunch of "upside down" bananas (as they call them) growing on a tree still hits them as something they were sure they'd have known about.

One reason people seem surprised could be mundane - you always see bunches in supermarkets, grocery stores etc, laid out downwards, so assume that's how they grew in the wild.