Dec 31, 2009

Ten Question for the Non-Rationale in Your Life

Question One;

1) Does Heat rise or fall? a) Rise or b) Fall

Please circle the correct answer, those of you who know the correct answer, please stop laughing and pointing.

This question and the others that follow have been carefully crafted to be obtuse. I have specifically designed them to show what is a commonly believed physical property is not true. Most people will overwhelmingly choose, a) Rise. Our senses will tell us that heat does rise, just place your hand over a candle, there is all the evidence you need.

However heat neither rises nor falls. Look at ice, it rises also and it is colder than liquid water under most conditions. If ice did not rise our world would be drastically different, the oceans would be mostly solid with a thin layer of liquid on top.

So what is going on? Why does heat seam to rise? For the same reason that ships float. Displacement. If something is less dense it takes up more room than that of the denser material and as long as its in a some what liquid or gaseous medium the less dense material will "rise" like a balloon in water or a ship or a iceberg. The air is heated, it expands becomes less dense and rises above the candle also carrying the extra energy or "Heat" with it, making it seam as though the Heat is rising.

The question is a trick question, I know it's not fair, I use it to bring home a point, and the point is, the physical world we live in, is more complex than we can observe with just our basic senses. We need to use science to help us under stand our world correctly. But why use a seemingly underhanded approach?

The best way for someone to learn is to make mistakes. So by setting up the question so that only if they know the basic physics that underly the question will they give the correct answer which is not listed. Then I'm able to explain how a commonly held assumption is actually incorrect. Then in the process get people who normally would not think critically about the world around us, to start.

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