Busted: Top 5 Tech Myths, Web Hoaxes and Pranks

How True are these Myths?

– Having Diet Coke and Mentos together will make your ‘Stomach Explode’.
Cell Phones Blast and Catch Fire if you use them while Charging.
– KFC serve ‘genetically manipulated chicken’.
– Do NOT return missed calls from numbers beginning with +375 or +371 because you will be charged between $15 and $30 for every returned call and your contact list and other financial info will be instantly stolen from your phone.

Do you know what’s common between the above sentences? They all are hoaxes and urban myths — all absolutely, positively false. On the other hand, there exist many tech myths and technology hoaxes that are not so easy to confute because at first look, many of them have absolutely logical facts tied to them and hence seem much more plausible than their urban counterparts. Many of these biggest technology myths are actually spread by misinformed or poorly planned scientific experiments or notions that were valid for older technologies but no longer applies. And then there are some myths, which are just the results of excited imaginations and spread similar to a game of telephone but over a much more modern medium — the Internet, which, contrary to one such tech myth, Al Gore did not invent. (It was DARPA). Here we present the top 5 most pervasive technology and computer related myths, hoaxes and misconceptions.

Fully Drain the Battery on Your Smartphone or Laptop to Extend Battery Life

Myth: Rechargeable batteries that are found on your smartphones, tablets and even laptops and notebooks have “battery memories” — they only recharge up to the level of a previous state. If recharged before completely discharged, they won’t recharge to 100%. Hence a cell phone or even a laptop (or notebook) must be at full charge before you can use it and the battery inside of the phone or laptop will be damaged if you take the device off the charger before it reaches full charge or if you use a brand new phone without fully charging it first.

Fact: When this could have been true for older mobile phone batteries, like older Nickel cadmium, today’s modern technology, like lithium-ion or lithium-ion polymer cells, makes sure that this is no longer applicable to these modern day cells. Recharging a Lithium-ion battery is different from nickel-based batteries because there is no battery memory. In fact, shorter battery life has much more to do with heat and use of improper chargers than it does with charge-discharge cycles. Don’t believe us? Apple states that “you can recharge a lithium-ion polymer battery whenever convenient, without requiring a full charge or discharge cycle.”

X-Ray Machines at Airport Can Erase Hard Drives and Memory Cards of your Gadgets

Myth: Several gadget users who travel or plan on traveling may be concerned about their laptop computers, or the media storing their important data getting damaged or erased when scanning them through an X-ray machine at the airport. X-ray machines emit an electromagnetic energy and can damage or destroy electrical equipment or magnetic sensitive data.

Fact: The short answer is a big NO. Let’s hear it from the airport authorities — “Our screening equipment will not affect digital cameras and electronic storage disks, drives and flash memory cards.” Computers, Laptops, Smartphones, Tablets, Digital Cameras and the components within them are not sensitive to X-rays and will not be badly affected when scanned through an X-ray machine. Moreover, unlike traditional camera film that can actually be damaged by X-rays, modern day hard drives and flash cards are not at all sensitive to light and will not be damaged when going through an X-ray.

Password-Protected Wi-Fi is Safe and Secure to Transmit Sensitive Information

Myth: If you are entering a password to access Wi-Fi, then it means that the Wi-Fi connection is totally secure and safe from hackers.

Fact: There are 2 types of password-protected Wi-Fi connections — your home network and all other network that you sign into to connect to the Internet when you’re not at home. Using a password-protected home Wi-Fi network that uses WPA or WPA/2 encryption is safe enough. But, if you are using a WiFi connection when on the road, a password simply enables your entry into the hotspot but it offers no real protection against hackers and crackers and other prying eyes. Hackers can easily launch ‘evil twin’ networks that resemble the real thing and then steal your password. It’s also worth noting that a password at home is also vulnerable to other hacking techniques such as Packet sniffing and for the highly trained, is just as easy  to hack.

More Megapixels = Better Photograph Quality

Myth: This is perhaps the most widely believed myths as far as digital camera and camera on smartphones (and tablets) go. And this one is actually spread by digital camera-makers who tout that somehow more megapixels equal a better digital photo.

Fact: Megapixels on a digital camera have absolutely nothing do with digital picture quality, it only describes the digital photo size. In fact, the quality of a photograph that is taken by a digital camera is defined by the camera’s sensor type and size, its processor and lens optics. The only impact the megapixels make is in the quality of a zoomed-in photo. Hence, the higher the smartphone’s camera resolution, the less grainy picture you’ll get if it is zoomed in. If you only add megapixels without increasing the overall size of the camera sensor, the amount of light reaching each pixel will be reduced, thus adversely affecting the picture quality.

Excessive Cellphone Usage can Fry Your Brain and Cause Cancer

Myth: Regular use of cell phone can fry your brain and cause cancer of various organs. Such claims go as far as to prove themselves by saying that a cell phone can boil an egg within few minutes and since our brain is made of similar egg-like proteins, so… Ok you get the idea. Now, is it completely false or have some truth to it? Let’s find out.

Fact: Cell phones use non-ionizing radiation, which is completely different from the ionizing radiation of x-rays and radioactive material. Cell phone radiation falls into the same band of non-ionizing radio frequency like microwaves use to heat or cook food. However, unlike microwaves, mobile phones do not emit enough radiation energy to damage human DNA or other genetic material so as to cause cancer. However, a scientific study published in the journal Proteomics concluded that some human beings may have cells in their body that are genetically more sensitive to wireless phone radiation. Also, signals emitting from your smartphone can interfere with your pacemaker, hearing aid, or defibrillator.

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