Science Misconception Podcast

Here, you can download my Podcast series. You may listen to these podcasts on your computer, mp3 player, iPod, or on a phone. © 2008*

The first series is on science misconceptions. These misconceptions are pervasive amongst students and many block students from learning the correct explanation for the concept. The collection will grow so check back frequently. For great videos about science misconceptions, go to and view the two series, A Private Universe and Minds of Our Own.

If you have ideas for misconceptions that are not listed here, please email them to MICHAEL HORTON.

Note: If you arrived at this webpage through an internet search, please realize that all of the statements below are FALSE. Do not quote them as being true.
To listen, simply click on the link. To download the files, right click and select "Save Target As." star3.gif= New

46) Combustion reactions are endothermic because it takes energy to get them started
(Remake of a previous podcast, "Burning a candle is endothermic because you have to light it" that had an error in it)
ENDOTHERMIC.mp3 transcript: endothermic.doc

45) The Earth's Magnetic north pole is in the north near the geographic North Pole.
MagneticNorthFmp3.mp3 transcript: MagneticNorthPole.pdf

44) Iron compounds are not magnetic and Compounds do not exhibit the properties of the elements that compose them
IronCompoundsF.mp3 transcript: IronCompoundsareNotMagnetic.pdf

43) The Earth is a perfect sphere and The Earth is much fatter around the equator
EarthSquashedF.mp3 transcript: EarthisSquashed.pdf accompanying PowerPoint: Squashed Earth Misconception.ppt

42) Series of heat and temperature misconceptions
1) Heat rises
2) Hot air rises
3) Atoms get bigger when you heat them up
4) Temperature and heat are the same thing
5) Sweat cools you off in the same way as pouring cold water on you
6) An object at 0 degrees has no heat
7) When you touch a cold object, it transfers some of its coldness to you
8) All ice is 0 degrees Celsius
HeatTempF.mp3 transcript: HeatMisconceptions.pdf

41) Misconceptions related to mirrors and reflection
1) A plane mirror reverses objects from left to right but not top to bottom
2) If you move far enough from a plane mirror, you can see your whole body
MirrorsReflection.mp3 transcript: MirrorReverses.pdf

40) Series of respiration misconceptions (edited with mistake corrected)
1) Respiration and breathing are the same thing
2) Air is mostly oxygen
3) The air that we exhale has no oxygen in it
4) Plants photosynthesize and animals respire
5) Burning a candle under a glass can prove that air is 20% oxygen
RespirationCorr.mp3 transcript: RespirationCorr.pdf

39) Series of lightning misconceptions
1) Car tires protect you from lightning
2) Rubber-soled shoes protect you from lightning
3) Lightning rods work by attracting lightning strikes
4) Cloud-to-cloud lightning is the most common type
5) Lightning never strikes the same place twice
6) Ground-to-cloud lightning is more common than cloud-to-ground
LightningF.mp3 transcript: MisconceptionsAboutLightning.pdf

38) "Lava rocks are magnetic." and "All meteorites are magnetic."
LavaRocksAreMagneticF.mp3 transcript: LavaRocksAreMagnetic.pdf

37) "Science says that bumblebees cannot fly."
BumblebeesCannotFlyF.mp3 transcript: BumbleBeesCannotFly.pdf

36) "Chemicals are either soluble or insoluble" and "Like dissolves like"
SolubilityFin.mp3 transcript: Solubilitymisconceptions.pdf

35) "A hydrogen balloon can lift twice as much as a helium balloon because it is half as dense."
HydrogenBalloonFin.mp3 transcript: HydrogenBalloon.pdf

34) "Carbon-14 (radiocarbon) dating is used to determine the age of dinosaur fossils."
Carbon14Dating.mp3 transcript: Carbon14Dating.pdf

33) "Mars is red."
MarsisRed.mp3 transcript with links, photos, and more info: MarsIsRed.pdf

32) "The moon is bigger on the horizon because it passes through more atmosphere and is magnified."
MoonHorizon.mp3 transcript: MoonHorizon.pdf

31) "Friction always opposes the direction of motion."
FrictDirection.mp3 transcript: FrictionDirection.pdf

30) "Infrared and heat are the same thing."
InfraredHeat.mp3 transcript: InfraredisHeat.pdf

29) Big Bang misconceptions including, "All galaxies are moving through space away from us", "The Big Bang occurred at the center of the universe", and "We can see to the edge of the universe."
BigBang.mp3 transcript: BigBang.pdf

28) "There is no gravity in space, that's why the astronauts float around."
NoGravity.mp3 transcript: NoGravityTranscript.pdf

27) "Hot peppers are hot and mints are cold." and "All nerves sense pain."
HotPeppers.mp3 Transcript:HotPeppers.pdf

26) "Hair stops growing at a certain length and starts growing again when it is cut." and "Hair grows back thicker after it is cut."
Hair.mp3 Transcript: Hair.pdf

25) "Christmas/Holiday lights are wired in parallel."
ChristmasLights.mp3 Transcript: ChristmasLights.pdf

24) "Ice is slippery because of the pressure of the ice skates." or "You can cut ice in half with a wire because of the pressure."
SlipperyIce.mp3 Transcript: IceSkates.pdf

Below this line, files are lower quality because I was recording them in the car while driving to my former office in Orange County (not recommended).

23) "Projectiles have zero acceleration at the top of their trajectory."
ProjectileZeroAccFin.mp3 transcript: ProjectileZeroAccTranscript.doc

22) "Oxygen rich blood is red, oxygen-deprived blood is blue." BLUEBLOOD.mp3 transcript: BlueBloodTranscript.pdf
Untouched picture of red food coloring looking blue through milk: BlueBlood.JPG

21) "There is a dark side of the moon" DarkSideMoon.mp3 transcript: DarkSideMoonTranscript.pdf

20) "Opposites Attract" Opposites.mp3

19) "The Earth's surface is rough." EarthRough.mp3

18) "Airplanes get their lift from the Bernoulli principle." Bernoulli.mp3

17) "The primary colors are Red, Yellow, and Blue."
PRIMARYCOLORS.mp3 transcript: Primary Colors.doc

16) "40 degrees Celsius is twice as hot as 20 degrees Celsius." 40DEG.mp3

15) "Air friction slows a car down and makes space ships red hot upon re-entry."
AIRFRICTIONCAR.mp3 transcript: AirFriction.doc

14) "Atoms get larger when they are heated."

13) "The seasons are caused by the earth being closer to and farther from the sun." and "The Earth's orbit is highly elliptical."
SEASONS.mp3 transcript: Seasons.doc
Word document to accompany seasons misconception podcast.

12) "The material to make a tree comes from the soil." TREEMASS.mp3

11) "Battery acid leaks out of old batteries." BATTERYACID.mp3

10) "Boiling water bubbles are made of a) hydrogen b) oxygen or c) air." BOILINGWATER.mp3

9) "Fish breathe the oxygen from the H2O (water)" FISHBREATHE.mp3

8) "I have seen a picture of the Milky Way spiral galaxy." MILKYWAY.mp3

7) "Oil and water repel each other."
OILWATERREPEL.mp3 transcript: oilandwater.doc

6) "The oxygen that we breathe comes from the rain forests." OXYGENRAINFOREST.mp3

5) "You can cool your house down by opening the refrigerator door." REFRIGERATOR.mp3

4) "Salts and salt solutions have neutral pH." SALTSARENEUTRAL.mp3

3) "Sound is a transverse wave . . . I've seen it on the computer." SOUNDTRANSVERSE.mp3

2) "Water molecules are wet. Rock molecules are hard." WATERMOLECULESWET.mp3

1) "Race cars have wide tires to provide more friction." FRICTION.mp3

*All of the information on this page belongs to Michael Horton, copyright, 2008 under intellectual property laws. You may use the podcasts and transcripts for your own information, in school classrooms, and you may link to this site from your own. You may not use them for commercial gain, download them and put them on your website, or modify them and play them in public. For permission to do anything else with these files, contact Michael Horton,

Search terms (ignore this, it is just to make it easier to be found on google, altavista, etc.):
Carbon radiocarbon dating is not used to determine the age of dinosaur fossils mars is not red the moon is not bigger on the horizon because it passes through more atmosphere and is magnified friction does not always oppose the direction of motion infrared and heat are not the same thing big bang misconceptions there is no center of the universe we cannot see to the edge of the universe there is gravity in space hot peppers are not hot mints are not cold not all nerves sense pain hair never stops growing hair does not grow back thicker after it is cut christmas holiday lights are not wired in parallel ice is not slippery because of the pressure of the ice skates you can cut ice in half with a wire, but not because of the pressure the earth's surface is not rough the earths surface is not rough airplanes do not get their lift from the bernoulli principle the primary colors are cyan magenta and yellow the primary colors are red green and blue the primary colors are not red yellow and blue 40 degrees celsius is not twice as hot as 20 degrees celsius air friction does not slow a car down air friction does not slow cars down air friction does not make space ships craft hot upon re-entry reentry atmosphere atoms do not get larger when they are heated the seasons are not caused by the earth being close closer to the sun in summer the seasons are not caused by the earth being farther from the sun in winter blood is not blue the material to make a tree does not come from the soil batteries do not lead acid alkaline batteries acid burning a candle is not endothermic boiling water bubbles are made of water vapor boiling water bubbles are not made of hydrogen oxygen air fish do not breathe the oxygen from h2o you have not seen a picture of the milky way galaxy the oxygen that we breathe does not come from the rain forests you cannot cool your house down by opening the refrigerator refridgerator door sals and salt solution do not have neutral ph sound is not a transverse wave sound is a longitudinal wave water molecules are not wet rock molecules are not hard race car tires are sticky large tires no friction there is no dark side of the moon spectrum of solubility acceleration of a projectile is not zero at apex peak top of trajectory like doesn't dissolve like lifting power hydrogen balloon helium balloon lifting capacity gas filled balloon car frame protects you from lightning rubber soled shoes do not protect you from lightning lightning rods do not attract lightning strikes cloud to ground intercloud intracloud lightning is most common lightning does strike the same place twice lava rocks are not magnetic high in magnesium not from core science can explain how bumble bees fly not fixed wings respiration and breathing are not the same thing air is not mostly oxygen air is mostly nitrogen the air that we exhale still has oxygen in it plants photosynthesize and respire steel wool and graduated cylinder 20% oxygen air candles water air oxygen