5 Common Misunderstandings About Physics

Physics, the science that we’re taught from a young age and get reminded of on a daily basis. We think we know some of the broader points of physics, especially because we’re taught equations as early as kindergarten. However, there are some things that we think that we know, but only actually have most or just part of the story. There are plenty of common misunderstandings and misconceptions surrounding physics. Here are five of the most common that we see on a daily basis.

5. Space = No Gravity

When we think of space, we tend to think that there isn’t any gravity. After all, movies and television shows often refer to ‘zero gravity’ when flying through space. However, there has to be some amount of gravity in all places, and that includes outer space. If there weren’t gravity in space, there would be no orbiting anything. Though the gravity is very minimal, it’s still there. Gravity becomes weaker with distance, which is why it’s lower on planets that are farther from the sun.

4. The Sun’s True Color

Though you should never look directly at the sun, the common thought is that the color is that of a pure yellow or orange. However, the sun doesn’t really have one particular true color. In fact, “The entire sun and all of its layers are glowing,” says professor Christopher Baird of West Texas A&M. “The ‘color of the sun’ is the spectrum of colors present in sunlight, which arises from a complex interplay of all parts of the sun.” With that said, the color of the sun appears to be white since it has all colors.

3. Objects in Motion

We’ve all heard that objects in motion stay in motion. After all, this is a law of physics that was founded by Sir Isaac Newton. There’s a little more to it than that, though. Objects that are in motion will stay in motion at the same speed until they are stopped or slowed down by an unbalanced force. Force isn’t actually needed to maintain speed, which may be a misconception because we spend most of our lives on foot or in cars where don’t really see that aspect of motion.

2. Mass vs. Weight

Often in conversation, you’ll hear people say that mass and weight are the exact same thing. It’s even in the name ‘body mass index’ where we find out our general health from using our weight under the name of mass. However, mass and weight don’t have identical meanings. Mass, by definition, is the amount of matter that an object contains. Weight, on the other hand, is the force that it exerts gravitationally. So, yes, when you are dieting you are losing both mass and weight. However, if you were on Pluto you would weigh much less while still having the same mass.

1. Black Holes

You’ve probably seen dozens of black holes in science fiction by this point, but they’re all just educational guesses as to what they actually look like. The truth is, we have no clue what a black hole truly looks like. They could be large enough to just barely eclipse the sun, or they could be millions of times larger. Let’s just say that it’s a good thing that nobody knows what the inside of a black hole looks like, because it’s probably not good.

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