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CosmosUp | February 7, 2023

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5 False Conceptions About Space

By | On + -

A lot of people have some pretty big misconceptions about space. To be fair, very few of us have ever been, there’s a lot more to study before anybody really knows what’s actually going on up there, and movies tend to give us the complete wrong idea. In the interests of setting things straight, here are 5 common misconceptions about space, and the truth behind them. 


People Explode

Perhaps one of the oldest and most common misconceptions is that we would explode if exposed unprotected to the vacuum of space. The logic here is that, since there is no pressure, we would simply bloat and pop, like a balloon that flew too high. But it may shock you to learn that humans are far more resilient than balloons.

Jut like we don’t pop when jabbed with a needle, we wouldn’t pop in space—our bodies are just too tough for it. We would bloat a bit, that much is true. But our bones, skin, and other organs aren’t fragile enough to give way and burst unless something is actively tearing them. In fact, several people have already been exposed to extremely low pressure environments when working on space missions. In 1966, one man was testing out a space suit when it decompressed at 120,000 feet. He lost consciousness, but did not explode, and made a full recovery.

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  1. Fredrik Bonde

    You would lose heat in space, albeit slowly, by radiation. That’s the reason why ISS have those big radiators.

  2. Simon

    Actually, most comets have 2 tails. One tail reacting to the solar wind as you described, the ion gas tail, the other due to ablation when larger particles are shed behind the comet due to solar heating, the dust tail.

  3. Scott

    The amount of scientific inaccuracies in this article are beyond me. Learn what plasma is and thermal dynamics before you start making articles about ridiculous concepts.

    “So the Sun does give off light and heat, but there is no conventional fire involved at all. It is simply a giant, warm glow.”

    Yup a warm glow of several thousands of degrees of super heated gases called plasma, yeah no fire but isn’t just a warm glow. At least explain what plasma is to people.

  4. paul van den Bergen

    The gaseous tail of comets is so nebulous and thin as to be almost indistinguishable from a vacuum. If you were inside it you wouldn’t be able to tell. They are bright because they are big, many 1000 ‘ times bigger than the nucleus of the comet.

  5. Jeff

    Awkward! Black holes are not planets. They are actually dead stars.

  6. BGriffin

    The title is one of few things in this article that got reasonably close to the truth.
    A better name would be;
    “More Misconceptions Than You Want to Count”.
    It would be a good idea to clarify that the article serves as an example of the misconceptions and does not delve into why the ideas are wrong, nor offer any well vetted alternatives.

  7. TomW

    The big misconception I often have to debunk is ”there’s no gravity in space”. People thinking that spacecraft just hang there in weightlessness, not understanding what an orbit is, and thinking that rockets just go straight up into space and once they’re out of the atmosphere that’s it!

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