"well everybody knows THAT!"

Part of what we do is to be aware of lots of stuff, from soup to nuts and over time we build a file of things that well “everybody knows” or we think we do. I was reading my new copy of Scientific american and came across a couple of things that “everybody knows” (and I thought I knew too) that were just flat wrong. Its a never ending quest for accrate knowlage, and to that end i present the following (doing my best rod serling imatation) for your consideration.

The speed of light, how fast is it?

The USA has the fattest adults as a precentage of the popluation.

the object here is not to google it and find out but put down your “everybody knows that” knee jerk answer.

knee jerk speed of light 186000 miles per second… cant remember the metric equivalant though i probably had to use that more in physics…

dont quite understand the population question though…

is this about hueristics… rules of thumb etc… thing that designers should just know?

Its about what you think you know can hurt you…a lot. On the speed of light question the correct answer is “it depends” your right in a vacume its 299792458 meters per second but in water its 224844344 meters per second and it a bose-einstein condensate ti can range from zero, to 17 meters per second to disapperaing and re appearing (big news for quantum computing btw). ON the fat adult question the answer is shocking, mexico 71% of women and 66% of men in egypt it is 59.1% both above USA. Whats this all mean, well i thought I KNEW the speed of light and i was CERTAIN that the USA was fattest, and because i KNEW i would have gone in with preconcieved notions on any design.

moral bering do the research. right?

Yup, and the stuff that “everybody knows” is the one that is most important to do…