5. Macs and Viruses
Misconception: Apple Macs don’t get viruses
While it is true that Macs almost never get viruses, it is also true that there are some in existence. First of all there are Macro Viruses which infect Microsoft Word and Excel documents. Because Word and Excel are available for the Mac also, this means that they can be potentially harmful on Macs as well (thanks Microsoft). As of writing, Apple recognizes four possible viruses for Macs, though they are seldom seen. The reason for the low number of viruses is that the Mac operating system is based on a Unix subsystem which usually prevents the average user from running software with sufficient privileges to allow harmful software to cause damage.
4. Hitler’s Motorway
Misconception: Hitler created the autobahn
Many people believe that Hitler and the Nazis conceived of the idea of the first Autobahn (essentially a large motorway) in Germany (and the first laned free public motorway in the world). But in fact the autobahn was built in 1931 and opened by Konrad Adenauer, the Mayor of Cologne. This was two years before Hitler became Chancellor of Germany. Interestingly, however, the very first motorway (unlaned) was the pet project of a dictator: the Autostrada dei laghi was inaugaurated on the 21st of September 1924 in Milan during the rule of Benito Mussolini.
3. Plane Toilets
Misconception: Planes dump their toilet waste while up in the air
Not only do planes not dump their waste mid-flight, it is also impossible for them to do so short of some kind of catastrophe which causes the waste tanks to explode open (because the valve is on the outside of the plane). When toilets are used on a plane, the waste is dumped into a special tank. The waste remains in the tank until the plane lands, and then special ground crew members pump the tanks. So now you can rest safe in the knowledge that you don’t need to watch out for flying chunks of frozen poop when a plane flies over you. In case you are wondering about the sucking noise toilets on planes make, a vacuum is used to allow the toilet to be flushed with less water and because plumbing cannot rely on gravity alone in an aircraft in motion.
2. First Video Game
Misconception: Pong was the first video game
Computers are much older than many people think and when you talk about the very first game, most people tend to think of Pong. Pong was invented in 1972 by Atari and it was an arcade style game that featured two opposing paddles and a ball with which you played virtual tennis. It was the first commercially successful video game and it launched the video game industry. But… Twenty years earlier (in 1952), another game was created. It was called OXO and it was a noughts-and-crosses (tic-tac-toe) type game which was played on the EDSAC computer. It was made by Alexander Douglas for his PhD thesis at Cambridge University. It is quite astonishing to think that the very first computer game was created nearly sixty years ago!
1. The Web / Internet
Misconception: The web is the Internet
This is a very common misconception, most likely brought about due to the fact that most people use the web as their almost exclusive method of using the Internet. But in fact, the Internet technically began to exist in the form we know it on January 1, 1983 when its predecessor (Arpanet) began using TCP/IP – the system of network communication still used today. The web was invented by an Englishman called Tim Berners-Lee in 1989. The World Wide Web is made up of servers (which serve the pages) and clients (like Firefox, Safari, and IE) which display the page. The Internet is the set of technologies beneath the web which enable the web to exist. If the Internet didn’t exist, the web would not be able to function; if the web didn’t exist, the Internet still would. Other programs that use the Internet which have nothing at all to do with the web are email, IRC (Internet Relay Chat), most internet messaging programs, newsgroups, BitTorrent, telnet, FTP, etc.