Everyone knows at least one old wives' tale (or 75). These superstitions are both doubted and depended on, but because there is a decent amount of skepticism surrounding old wives' tales as a whole, it's worth a closer look into which are true, right? Right. As it turns out, there are a surprising number of true old wives' tales.
For instance, look at Galileo! His ideas about space were doubted for 300 years before they were adopted as facts. Now, throwing a noodle against the wall to determine its readiness isn't as insightful as the layout of our solar system, but somebody's great-great-great grandma deserves some credit for the perfect pasta. And while eating bread crusts won’t give you curly hair and putting salt in water won’t make it boil any faster, not everything you were told as a child was false. Here are a few old wives' tales you can count on. (Spoiler alert to the gossips: itchy ears didn’t make the list).
Eating Right Before Bed Causes Vivid DreamsPhoto: Mary Smith / Flickr
You slam that last piece of pizza as the credits to Stranger Things roll. You brush your teeth, slip in your retainer and begin to doze off. Next thing you know you're running down the corridors of Hogwarts, late to the most important meeting of the year, wearing no pants.
Is this nightmare a result of the Upside Down, or something a little harder to digest? According to Livestrong, eating right before bed is directly correlated to an increase in brain activity. Your metabolism is working overtime and your brain is too, causing a notable spike in the vividness of dreams. One study by Nature Education focused solely on the effects cheese had on participants' dreams. Because this type of dairy contains an amino acid associated with peaceful brain activity, the scientists broke down the different types of cheeses and their respective effects on those being studied. Take a feta look at the results here.
Red Skies at Night, Sailor's DelightPhoto: Nick Kocharhook / Flickr
This tale might be the oldest in the books. It is referenced in the Bible, after all. This adage has been used for centuries to alert sailors of incoming weather conditions, though it's only practical in areas where weather systems travel from west to east. Here's how it works: when dust particles get captured in the atmosphere by high pressure, the blue light dissipates, leaving the red light to paint the sky. If those particles cause a red sky in the morning, the sailors know that a low-pressure system, or storm, is likely to follow. A red sky at night indicates that the sinking air and potentially dangerous weather has passed.
Heartburn While You Carry Means Your Baby's Hairy
There are approximately one trillion pregnancy adages to go around, but this one happens to be true. In 2007, researchers at Johns Hopkins University conducted a study in an attempt to cut the tall tale down, but they were met instead with an overwhelming amount of evidence proving its validity. Eighty-two percent of the women with severe heartburn during pregnancy gave birth to especially hairy babes. It turns out the hormones that are known to cause heartburn in pregnant women are the same ones thought to affect fetal hair growth.
A Wooden Spoon on a Pot of Water Prevents It from Boiling Over
Like cooks in the kitchen, some bubbles are more stable than others. According to a study done at the University of California, Berkeley, different materials create bubbles with membranes of varying thickness. This thickness determines the stability level of the bubble. The bubbles in a pot of boiling water are quite unstable, so when they meet the wooden spoon, which is a hydrophobic (or water resistant) material, the bubbles pop, and the water level falls back into the pot. The second reason it works is because of the temperature of the spoon. When the bubbles, which are filled with steam, come into contact with something below 212° F, they re-condense into water and weigh the rising bubbles down.