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Urban Myth Roundup

December 2, 2005

Scientists have long derided the notion that getting cold could give you a cold. But a new study seems to prove them wrong.

Transcript

BOB HIRSHON (host):
Bundling up to prevent colds. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Your grandmother has been vindicated—bundling up in winter can help protect you from catching a cold. That’s according to researchers at Cardiff University’s Common Cold Centre. Volunteers who put their feet in ice water for 20 were three times more likely to catch a cold over the next 5 days than were volunteers who kept their feet warm. The researchers suggest this happens because coldness constricts blood vessels, shutting off the supply of infection-fighting white blood cells.

But while your grandmother may have been right, those classic Western movies were not. Research published in the journal Nature has shown that drowning in quicksand is impossible. The scientist collected a sample of quicksand and found it had twice the density of water, meaning that humans would sink only partway.I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.