The December 2020 “scientific” rumors list unveiled

2021-01-07

The monthly “scientific’ rumors list, guided by Beijing Association for Science and Technology, Beijing Municipal Cyberspace Administration Office and Beijing Internet Association and jointly released by Beijing Association of Science and Technology Journalists and Editors and www.piyao.qianlong.com, is supported by the Science Communication Committee of China Science Writers Association, the Society of Science Editors and Journalists of China Evening News, Shanghai Science and Technology Communication Association and Beijing Science and Technology Information Institute.

1. Reconstituted milk is ‘fake milk” without nutrition and can be called as “gutter oil” in milk

Rumors:

Reconstituted milk is a kind of “fake milk” without nutrition and can even be called as “gutter oil” in milk.

Truth:

This notion is totally scientifically ungrounded. Fresh milk is milk within 24 hours of being separated from cow; reconstituted milk, also known as “recombined milk”, is milk liquid derived from mixing dried or concentrated dairy products with water evenly in a certain proportion. Compared with fresh milk, the production process for reconstituted milk incorporates an additional step of high temperature sterilization, but almost having no effects on the main nutritional components (such as protein and calcium).

People drink or eat dairy products mainly to supplement protein and calcium. Protein in dairy products, once entering human body, is mainly decomposed into peptide and amino acid for absorption into human body. Although the processing process of reconstituted milk includes a high-temperature sterilization step, which would change the protein structure in milk, amino acid that comprises protein would not change as a result, so high-temperature sterilization has little effects on the nutritional value and digestibility of protein in reconstituted milk. In addition, calcium in reconstituted milk, once heated, might only have its dissolved state affected, but not the absorbance of calcium by human body.

The National Food Safety Standard: Fermented Milk(GB 19302-2010), the National Food Safety Standard: Sterilized Milk (GB 25190-2010) and the National Food Safety Standard: Modified Milk (GB 25191-2010) all specify in different forms that reconstituted milk can be used in production of dairy products and that it is a regular product that the state allows to product. Reconstituted milk is a dairy product that can provide human body with nutrients such as protein and calcium. Currently, products made from reconstituted milk on the markets generally contain sugar and essence, therefore it is suggested that consumers choose relatively suitable dairy products based on respective circumstances.

2. Quantum computers are already in position to replace classic computers

Rumors:

The “Jiuzhang” quantum computers developed by China have realized “quantum hegemony” and are already in position to fully replace classic computers. 

Truth:

On December 4, 2020, a research team comprising Pan Jianwei and Lu Chaoyang from University of Science and Technology of China constructed 76-photon quantum computing prototype called “Jiu Zhang” in collaboration with CAS Shanghai Institute of Microsystem and Information Technology and National Research Center for Parallel Computer Engineering Technology, thus realizing rapid resolution of “Gaussian Bose sampling” that has practical prospects. According to the existing theories, this quantum computing system processes Gaussian Bose sampling one hundred trillion faster than the currently fastest super computers, i.e., what is completed by “Jiuzhang” within one minute takes one hundred million years for super computers to complete.

But it should be noted that this research breakthrough does not mean quantum computers can fully replace classic computers. Quantum computers can outperform classic computers only when processing specific problems for which efficient quantum algorithms can be designed. For problems without quantum algorithms, such as the simplest addition, subtraction, multiplication and division, quantum computers have no advantages of whatsoever.

It is safe to say that “Jiuzhang” has established a milestone in the process of computer development, but there is still a long way to go. After realizing the quantum superiority, the next objective is to endeavor to develop programmable quantum computers capable to process numerous problems of practical value as soon as possible through a series of technological breakthroughs. 

3. In case of a high-rise building catching a fire, go down by elevator or run up towards the top of the building

Rumors:

In case of a high-rise building catching a fire, the occupants in the building must lose no time to escape by going downstairs by elevator or simply run up towards the rooftop for hiding in a race against time.

Truth:

Beijing Municipal Fire and Rescue Brigade specifically pointed out through its official release platform that it is prohibited to take elevators in case of fire but the safety passages should be used for evacuation from high-rise buildings. 

In case of a high-rise building catching a fire, occupants should never escape by elevator. It is because after a fire takes place, power supply to elevators is highly likely to be cut off within seconds, leading to occupants in elevator cars being trapped. At a fire scene, elevator shafts are equivalent to big chimneys, into which a huge amount of fume would flood, making it extremely easy to cause “chimney effect” and suffocate occupants in there to death by strong smoke and toxic gases.

Running upwards is an unwise choice either. After a fire occurs, smoke moves upwards and faster than the vast majority of occupants, possibly causing occupants to inhale a large amount of fume too.

The correct way is to try to run downwards as fast as possible via the fire escape and leave the building if occupants are on lower and middle floors of the building. When escaping, it is a must for escapers to lower bodies as much as possible and cover mouths and noses with wet towels whenever possible.

If situated on middle and high floors of an office building, find the refuge floors as soon as possible. According to the national building fire protection specification, high-rise buildings more than 100 meters tall shall contain refuge floors and the floor interval between two refuge floors would generally not be more than 15 floors. In case of a fire, occupants may enter the refuge floors as soon as possible, awaiting evacuation and rescue.

In case of a two-story building, another alternative is to secure a fixed component inside the house with a rope and then bind the body and slide down. But it must be remembered that this escape method cannot be used for occupants on the third floor or higher.

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