Is your information full of bull? | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, September 22, 2017 / LAST MODIFIED: 08:36 PM, September 22, 2017

ALMOST USEFUL LIFE HACKS

Is your information full of bull?

Have you heard of the test that found a certain type of water, that we also drink, could become radioactive in a way? It is the usual water except when heated in a microwave oven it could become a liquid capable of death and mutation. It was killing off plants. What is worse, it was proving to be an utter nuisance by not really turning anyone into a super-powered being. I have read in books how this happens all the time, in all the comic books. 

Such a story circulated on the internet scaring some people, rightfully so. How do we survive without water? Do we drink cow urine like some of our neighbours in India? What if the cow previously drank microwaved water? 

The story goes as such: a little girl, possibly adorable to make the story more palatable, conducted a scientific experiment. She watered a couple of plants using water boiled by conventional stoves and water that was microwaved. Seven days later you can guess which one died. And the myth was born. 

I came to know of it when a friend got visibly upset that I was taking the shortcut of boiling mugs of coffee using a microwave. Microwaving coffee is the best way to do it. It is fast, makes the milk froth nicely, and if you overdo it, the coffee will spill out on the glass tray for easy cleaning, two out of 10 times. My friend was very concerned that I might get radiation poisoning. He read it online, that exact story mentioned above. 

Turns out, it has as much substance as a Pitbull song. Long story short, microwaves work by vibrating the molecules in water so they heat up. Similar to an inactive person trying to exercise to a Pitbull song. Your fatty bits start vibrating, your body heats up, and you eventually shut down the music in disgust. Ever tried microwaving a dry biscuit? It doesn't really work because there are very little, if any, water molecules to dance around in there. 

Does it stand any chance of turning you into the Incredible Hulk? Er, no. Microwaves use electromagnetic waves to make particles dance around and heat up. They are not radioactive. And water heated up is just hot water. It does not become Coca Cola or cow urine, one of which does kill plants. 

Everybody, for a while, was blindly sharing, clicking, re-sharing, and making microwave ovens all across the world very sad. This was on the most-searched list for a while. And on the very same Google search page, there were also multiple other sites offering counter-logic and scientific reasoning. Yes, Google search results span more than one page, but almost no one clicks past the first. People are that impatient to appear full of knowledge. 

With two billion active Facebook monthly users, 238 million on Twitter, and 1.5 billion on YouTube, people are impatient to get socially interactive. Two-thirds of young people get their first introduction to news via Facebook posts. Are you one of those? 

Some stories are obvious. If it suggests dinosaurs are on the loose or a new vaccine has given a person three legs, then it is kind of really possibly absolutely not true. Unless they are talking about Axe Cop whose partner is a T-Rex with machine guns for arms. Now that should be real, but the only reality is that it is the most awesome comic/cartoon ever to come out of the mind of a five-year-old. 

For vaguely scientific-sounding stories, look for verified sources. Surprisingly, more accurate news items are now heard from comedians than actual news stations. Jimmy Kimmel, Jon Stewart, and Stephen Colbert will quite likely give you actual news. If they are not talking about radioactive water, it is probably nothing to worry about right now. People are more likely to share images with celebrities, as in the case of Denzel Washington for his support of Trump. It was a Facebook trending story and was completely fake. 

Have you tried Snopes? They verify urban legends and myths. They even broke down the microwaved water story with a full blown test. All plants survived. None became mutant monsters sadly. 

Or at the very least, Google with the words 'hoax' and 'fake story' as part of the search. Don't be sheep blindly clicking and sharing links. And keep making coffee in microwaves unless I post how I have turned into a cool/grotesque mutated hero/villain. Till then, always question your information. 


Ehsanur Raza Ronny is a confused dad, all-round car guy, model car builder, and cartoonist. He is also Editor of Shift (automobiles), Bytes (technology), and Next Step (career) of The Daily Star.

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