I realized a little later that all the following misconceptions have to do with being outside one's comfortable element, so I put them all under that category. It was really interesting and actually beneficial to read up on these topics, especially because they'll give me some insight later in my life.
Two of the topics I will broach have to do with swimming, something that I am not that great at, as I haven't had a lot of practice growing up; our house doesn't have a swimming pool, so my family resorted to going to the YMCA, but it didn't always work out. I felt just the slightest bit more prepared after educating myself on these subjects.
People who are drowning are commonly portrayed in movies as people flailing around in the water, calling out for help and waving their hands. It's almost always obvious to onlookers, and someone immediately sends for help. In this case, drowning isn't seen as a very big issue because people are thought to make a big scene out of things.
In truth, drowning is very inconspicuous, and is extremely dangerous in real-life cases. Someone who is drowning isn't able to raise their arms or yell loudly to get attention. They resort to using what's called the 'instinctive drowning response'. It's not voluntary; it's what the brain automatically turns to as it's final call for help. Their arms weakly try to vertically paddle in the water as they try to tilt their heads back long enough to take a breath. Their legs stop moving, and their bodies are in an upright position.
Lifeguards and other trained professionals are taught to recognize these signs and quickly take action. Any abrupt motions such as waving, splashing around, and yelling usually show distress, but not necessarily drowning.
I am 99% sure I won't be faced with a problem such as this one, but it's interesting nonetheless. Science fiction has really messed with the facts about what happens when someone is in space without the proper equipment or covering. I've heard the usual- that person will explode, their innards will start boiling- those kinds of things. What people haven't heard is that none of these are true.
Although it's common knowledge that people can't breathe in space, what happens to someone who can't breathe isn't very well known. The first thing that would happen is something called ebullism, which is when bubbles start forming in bodily fluids, causing swelling of the skin and bubbles in the blood.
Clarification: blood doesn't begin to boil- bubbles simply begin to form as a result of the lower pressure in the environment. There is also a loss of oxygen in the tissue, along with circulatory failure. The lungs also begin to collapse, but still release water vapor, which cools and turns into ice in the throat.
Lots of people like to defend shark attacks by saying that the shark mistook the person for a seal or another sea creature. While great white sharks are known to be responsible for the most attacks on humans, they are certainly not aggressive animals.
In fact, the way a shark approaches a seal and the way it approaches a human are entirely different. A great white will violently and abruptly break the surface when attacking a seal, but will attack humans in a more relaxed manner, closer to its normal pace.
However, the reason for its attacks are fallacious- a great white shark has keen eyesight and can distinguish between colors quite well. They can easily tell that a human being is not a seal. Sharks simply bite for identification of the object in question, not to eat or bite without justification. These are called "test-bites". Sharks are also known to bite buoys and other unfamiliar things floating in the water, including humans and surfboards.
This specific blog post has been really interesting to do. It was fun to work in areas that I'm not very familiar with, and I'm really looking forward to the category of the next group of misconceptions.