Science mis-education

Some great stuff from a page full of lies we teach pre-college students, including why the sky is blue:

The sky is blue for a very simple reason: air is not a perfectly transparent material. Instead it is blue! The sky is blue for much the same reason that a cloud of powder is white. Powder isn’t invisible. Throw some dust into the air on a sunny day and you’ll see a visible white cloud. But what happens if you could throw some AIR? You might think that a cloud of air would be invisible. You’d be wrong. Air isn’t invisible, instead its molecules scatter light in the same way that any small particles do. Air is a powdery-blue substance.

I loved seeing that this page includes a lot of subjects I argued with my father over when I was a kid. The “air is blue” thing always struck me as obvious, and pressure differentials never seemed as convincing a mechanism for airplane lift as simple angle of attack.

If there’s a general lesson here it’s that you should stick to the simple models until you find gaps they really fail to explain. Not every observable phenomenon is a teaching case for modern physics…