Historical Events  Science
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

Will stay in water till boiled


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

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.

Historical Events  Science
Jet Engines

How are Jet Engines in passenger aircraft fixed?

MMDE: Jet engines fully underneath the wings

Current: Jet engines forward of the wings

People have noticed something odd about the placement of the engines on passenger jet aircraft.

They remember them being fully undermneath the wings, but are suprised to see today they are forward of them, and have been for many years. 

This needs some explanation, because in earlier designs different positions were being tried out, so indeed some would be directly under the wings, and even some above them, for example. There's a detailed discussion on Reddit where various knowledgeable engineers, etc explain the variants of the aircraft over time, but still the feeling amongst some is the new position is a surprise.

Historical Events  Science
Great White Shark

How many humans had been killed by a Great White Shark prior to JAWS in 1975?

MMDE: thousands

Current: 11

They've been around for 400 millions years, and evolved into the perfect killing machine so long ago they haven't changed since - but it was only in 1975 that the world came to really fear the great white shark when the movie JAWS came out. 

The popular idea at the time was that, over human history, thousands of even tens of thousands of humans had been killed by them. Many are surprised to find that the figure, for documented deaths of humans due to the great white shark up to then, was only 11.

Stories of sailors being attacked by sharks in wartime torpedoed battleships are plenty, but these don't involve the great white shark.

Historical Events  Science
Early electric car

First car to hit 100 kph in 1899?

MMDE: Not an electric car

Current: An electric car

When people hear the first car to hit 100 kph was electric in 1899, they think you're joking and might as well have said it was powered by the Flux Capacitor from "Back to the Future".

However, it's true, and it's an example of what some people point to as a Mandela Effect sub class termed "tech before it's time", where inventions which should be much more widely known due to their nature seem to suddenly appear in history from nowhere.

The speed record was achieved at Achères, Yvelines near Paris in France with 105.882 kph. No speeding tickets were issued ;-)