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CosmosUp | January 20, 2021

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5 False Conceptions About Space

By | On + -

People Freeze

This is one misconception mostly perpetuated by movies. Many films set in space will have a scene where one character finds themselves outside the ship without a suit. They quickly begin to freeze and, unless they manage to get back inside, turn into an icicle and float away. The reality is the complete opposite. You wouldn’t freeze if you were exposed to space, you’d overheat.

We probably all remember those diagrams of convection currents in science class. Water over a heat source will heat up, rise to the top, cool down, sink to the bottom, and repeat. This happens because the water at the top transfers its heat to the air around it, which causes the water to contract, thus becoming more dense, and sinking. In space, as the name suggests, there is nothing to transfer your heat to, making cooling down enough to freeze impossible. So your body will continue to work away, generating heat as it does. Of course, before you became uncomfortably hot, you’d be dead.

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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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