Eine Kleine Nichtmusik

Witty and pertinent observations on matters of great significance OR Incoherent jottings on total irrelevancies OR Something else altogether OR All of the above

Friday, August 31, 2007

It Ain't Necessarily So

I've always taken an interest in those "things everyone knows" which then turn out to be urban myths. For example, not long ago I was about to make a reference to the paediatrician who was forced from her home by an angry mob who confused the word with "paedophile", when I thought I'd check it. Here's an example of the original story, and here is a good survey of the ways it's been embellished.

So this article in Scientific American (August 2007 in the print edition) grabbed my attention at once.

I'm not sure whether the bit I liked best was the reasons pencils wouldn't have been a good choice, or the fact that the USSR ordered the same pens for use on Soyuz.

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