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Science Kills Magic: Awesome Things With Boring Explanations

Science Kills Magic: Awesome Things With Boring Explanations

By Melissa Albert

The world is a wondrous place, filled with unexplained phenomena, terrifying sea life, the mysterious remains of dead civilizations...and a bunch of jerks with graphing calculators, determined to take all the fun out of the weird and the wonderful. Because disillusionment loves company, here are a few seemingly awesome things, made completely lame under the harsh light of reality:

Sea Monkeys: Miraculous, tiny sea creatures that hatch overnight from a packet of "magic crystals"? "So eager to please, they can even be trained"? SIGN US UP IMMEDIATELY. Wait, never mind. Those aren't adorable miniature sea families, they are tiny, disgusting brine shrimp! Yes, sad to say, "magic crystals"=brine shrimp eggs. And you'll be unsurprised to learn that brine shrimp cannot be taught how to fetch. They can, however, learn to play dead. They're really good at it, usually within days of hatching.

Fairy rings: According to people who know how to have a good time, these circles of toadstools spring up wherever fairies have danced on a moonlit night. According to people who have been disinvited from our birthday party, fairy rings are caused by harmless fungus growth patterns. Sorry to ruin your summer/sense of childlike wonder.

Mexican jumping beans: We've already been conditioned by fairy tales to believe in the magical properties of beans, and beans that actually hop around seem to prove the point. Alas, these are nothing but seed pods housing tiny moth larva. Eventually, the larva will push its way out and hatch. Maybe the fact that you can get these at the airport should've been a tip-off that they aren't as enchanting as they seem.

Mood rings: Okay, so no one has actually considered these "cool" since 1997. But at the time they seemed so insightful! "Still sorta...blackish blue," ring-owners would think, squinting at their mood stone. "I guess I must just feel stressed/relaxed all the time! That makes perfect sense!" Beyond not really doing anything, these rings continue to disappoint when you discover how they're supposed to work: they contain an element that changes color based on the temperature of your skin—not the most nuanced indicator of mood. We're especially confused by some of the color translations. Brown = bored AND dramatic AND upset? Maybe brown only happens when you're watching an extra lame episode of CSI.

DAMMIT, SCIENCE. You're such a party pooper. What other awesome mysteries have been ruined by science?

Topics: Life
Tags: science, urban legends, funny things, myths, logic, mood rings

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About the Author
Melissa Albert

Melissa Albert reads books, worries about other people’s dogs (they look thirsty), and eats horrible candy for fun and profit. When not wearing her extremely tasteful Sparkitor hat, she’s an editor for the Barnes & Noble Book Blog. You can find her on Twitter @mimi_albert, or in the hot pretzel section of your local cafeteria.

Wanna contact a writer or editor? Email contribute@sparknotes.com.