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I was convinced that I could invent a machine that would pressurize wood, but denying it oxygen, it would not burn, but melt. I'm still not convinced it's impossible. :-)
When I was really young, I used to lock myself in the bathroom and mix together toothpaste, mouthwash, soap, ...whatever, thinking I was doing chemistry and I was going to discover some whole new compound no one has ever seen. Generally I just made a mess in a Dixie cup, but the good news is that I did end up with Ph.D. in Biology, so it wasn't a total loss.
I used to believe that the water used by firefights to put out fires was special water...not regular everyday water, but special, powerful water to put out fires.
I was convinced that chemistry lessons consisted of the teacher standing at the front, saying things like "And now add the green slime to the pink stuff," causing a colour change or an explosion. Actual chemical elements, compounds, etc, never crossed my mind.
I was also convinced that plutonium was green, glowing, and worse still, harmless.
I was born in 1952. and had to watch all the post WW2 monster movies with my older brothers. I just knew that anything involving radium would turn me into a wart-ridden deformed monster in only a few hours.
At my 8th birthday party I was given an alarm clock as a gift, and it had those ominous little green bits around the numbers. Not wanting to be rude, I wrapped it in about three pairs of socks and a sweater or two, and stuck it WAY back in a dresser drawer, just to make sure that I wouldn't wake up with my lips sloughing off.
I think my Mom finally found it when we moved, about six years later.
My son's little friend would not believe that ice cubes were simply frozen water. He was sure there was some secret formula.
I had heard that coal can be made into diamonds. I thought this was because there was a diamond inside every piece of coal.
So I did the only logical thing: rinse off a charcoal briquette in the sink until it became a diamond.
I never stopped to think that, if diamonds were this easy to obtain, why we had a whole bag of potential diamonds in our backyard and yet we weren't millionaires. I thought I had made some sort of fantastic, nobel prize-winning discovery.
I used to think that pneumonia and ammonia were the same thing. When my friend's mother was using a sink full of ammonia to clean some old combs, I thought we were all going to catch "ammonia".
Once I watched Saved By The Bell on tv and Screech and Kelly were lab partners. (keep in mind, I was about five when this was on.) Well, Screech poured some liquid into a test tube and the mixture began to fizz over and eventually explode all over them. Due to this, I believed that mixing any two liquids would cause an explosion. Therefore, I was terrified to pee in the toilet so I peed in a bin liner for about a week until my sister discovered it in my closet. I was also convinced I would die when my mum mixed the Kool- Aid with water to thin it.
When I learned about acid rain in school, I thought that it would burn and dissolve everything in its path. I had nightmares about acid rain dissolving my house and burning me to death.
As soon as I was tall enough to reach the taps on the bathroom sink, I decided to conduct an experiment seeing what happened if you mixed hot water with cold water, thinking maybe that nobody had tried it before. The results were profoundly disappointing, although I have no idea what I was expecting to happen.
I really did used to believe that if you held a tin tray above a boiling kettle then the moisture that collected on the tray was actually melted tin. I used to spend hours boiling the buggars - and could never understand why the tray got any smaller!
Whats worse is that I even tried to explain this to my mum who just looked at me in bemusement, but never tried to tell me that I was wrong. Is it possible that she believed it too?
When we were studying chemistry and the teacher talked about selenium, I thought that selenium was named after a Mexican pop star Selena who died during my childhood.
I used to believe that the liquid that causes glowsticks to glow was radioactive and would kill me if I got it on my skin. My mother took my friend and I to a carnival when we were about 7 and kept breaking them to make ourselves glow. Not wanting it to stain our clothes, she told us that any more would kill us if we touched it. I didn't want to go near a glowstick until 4 years later when my 6th grade science teacher said otherwise.
On a very long museum trip through the gem section, my mother told me that the floride in toothpast comes from florite, the purple crystal. I remember running through the gem section pointing out every 'toothpaste rock' to her. I didn't find out this was a trick until I was about 17 or 18
When I first learned about the periodic table of the elements I thought the elements were numbered in the order they had been discovered!
When I was a kid, I had railroad tracks running though my backyard. When I'd walk back there, I'd find little pieces of coal. From science class, I knew that if you put enough pressure on coal, it would turn into diamonds. I put so many pieces of coal on the tracks, but I never did find any diamonds...
I had learnt in school that carbon dioxide turns lime solution white...so if you blow into lime water, it will turn milky. After that everytime mom made nimbu pani (lime juice), I'd spend hours blowing into it, waiting for it to change colour.
I used to believe that if you put water in test tubes it would turn into whichever chemical the test tube was designed to make, so i was really dissapointed when i got one of those perfume making kits (with test tubey type things) and my mixture of water and water did nothing!
When I was young, I figured out why yawns were "contagious." When someone yawned, they sucked in a lot of oxygen, leaving less for everyone else in the vicinity, so people nearby had to yawn too, to get more into their lungs. I still sorta believed it into my 20s.