#BroomstickChallenge

The NASA #BroomstickChallenge

The NASA #BroomstickChallenge

Be prepared to roll your eyes on this one. The latest bit of viralness is the NASA #BroomstickChallenge. To be more precise, this …

I really really, (did I mention “really”) do not need to ask and answer this, but for completeness …

Did NASA really claim that there was a specific day when a broom can stand up on its own because of the gravitational pull?

The short simple answer is “No”.

Good Morning Britain get’s in on the act

The media love stuff like this. Here is a UK example of how it played out …

Did NASA Respond?

Their official response sent to anybody who asked was this …

“This is another social media hoax that exemplifies how quickly pseudoscience and false claims can go viral. While this hoax was harmless, it also shows why it’s important for all of us to do some fact checking and research—including checking in with @NASA and NASA.gov for real science fun facts—before jumping into the latest viral craze.”

They also put out a few tweets …

It is not about twitter and today’s world

There is a long history of things akin to this popping up.

A very old and similar yarn concerns the claim that there are specific days when you can balance an egg on its end. This is supposedly to do with the equinox. This latest broom viral claim is a repackaging of the very old idea that there are specific days when gravity works differently. You can read about the egg balancing myth on Wikipedia.

There is no magic day when gravity works differently. You can balance stuff on any day you choose. Nor is there anything magical about brooms or eggs.

The secret sauce involved in balancing eggs, brooms, or anything else is of course to apply a little practice, and a lot of patience.

For some, doing stuff like this is a hobby and also an art form …

The rock art variation of the #BroomstickChallenge

Summary

Daft ideas can and do go viral. Such ideas are often never challenged and so they become part of “what everyone knows”.

If you seriously doubt the popularity of daft ideas, then hit pause and remember that we live in a world where millions of people sincerely believe that Trump has been especially chosen by God, or that Brexit is a jolly good idea.

A few more #BroomstickChallenge Tweets

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