The March List of “Scientific” Rumors: are sandstorms coming through openings of the Three North Shelterbelt? Can anesthetic sevoflurane knock people out immediately?


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, 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. The “openings” of the Three North Shelterbelt send away the haze and bring in sandstorms


The Three North Shelterbelt was “cracked open” to blow away the haze, so sandstorms have been blown in.


First of all, the Three North Shelterbelt was not “cracked open” but instead continuously remediates the natural ecology. The Three North Shelterbelt Program is the first state-level key forestry ecological project ever undertaken in China and has completed 30.14 million ha of forestation conservation areas in total over the past 40-plus years, with the forest coverage ratio in the project area increased from 5.05% to 13.57%. The national desertification monitoring results show that the desertificated land area within the project area has been decreasing since 2014, with the average annual sandstorm days reduced from 6.8 to 2.4.

Secondly, scientific analysis shows that it is impossible to totally rely upon the Three North Shelterbelt to address the important task of eliminating sandstorms. Although capable to block strong winds and adsorb part of sand and dust, words cannot completely prevent sand and dust flying high in air. When a heavy sandstorm forms, if the wind speed reaches 30m/s (force 11 wind), coarse sands (diameter of 0.5-1.0 mm) would fly dozens of centimeters above the ground, fine sands (diameter of 0.125-0.25 mm) 2 meters above the ground, silt (diameter of 0.05-0.005 mm) 1.5 km above the ground and clay participles (diameter of less than 0.005 mm) even higher. The height of the Three North Shelterbelt is generally merely 10-20 meters, making it impossible for it to completely block inbound sand and dust.

But the Three North Shelterbelt still plays a positive role of wind prevention and sand fixation. Although the scope of effects of shelter forests on the entire wind field is limited, they would have certain effects on local, near-ground and small-scale wind fields and have an active, positive role in wind prevention and sand fixation. By planting trees, both the sand-fixing and water-impounding effects of vegetation root system inhibit sand movements. In addition, shelter forests can also reduce local wind fields and also have improving effects for local sand blowing.

2. The quantum technology has been very mature and widely applied


On today’s markets, various “quantum commodities” appear in a continuous stream. This suggests that quantum technology has been very mature and products incorporating such technology are already accessible to thousands of households.


The common characteristic of these commercially available “quantum commodities” is high price and self-claimed “powerful function”, with miraculous descriptions of “scientific principles” even more eye-catching. Indeed, the so-called “quantum + daily-use article” slogan generally freeloads on the concept and tell stories, even possibly suspected of fraud.

 “Quantum” is a physical concept that was brought forward by German physicist Max Planck in 1900 as the indivisible smallest unit describing physical quantity in the microcosm. The quantum theory researches such as quantum mechanics have been progressing very fast and are currently mainly applied to quantum communications, quantum computing and quantum precision measurement, but not yet practically applied in other fields. Quantum water, quantum insole and quantum eyewear all utilize the quantum concept.

How to discriminate whether a piece of commodity has on earth incorporated quantum technology or not? This depends upon whether it uses the coherence, superposition and other characteristics of quantum. If not, it freeloads on the concept. A simpler way to identify is to simply remember that the quantum technology has not yet been applied in public life for now.

3. Staying up late can be made good by “compensatory sleep”


Those who frequently stay up late can recover their sleep deficit by compensatory sleep during weekends.


The effects of sleep deprivation are mainly physiological and psychological. Physiologically, sleep deprivation would cause increased blood pressure, decreased digestion function, decreased memory ability, endocrine disorder, cardiovascular diseases and diabetes, etc. Psychologically, sleep deprivation would cause people to suffer stress, anxiety, depression, agitation and irritability, among other phenomena.

Sleeping habits are largely influenced by individuals and whether one’s sleep is healthy can generally be judged in three aspects, i.e., sleep timing, sleep length and post-waking feelings. Specifically, sleep timing is preferably around 10 PM, sleep length is 7-8 hours and there should be no poor mental state, drowsiness, fatigue, deteriorating memory or bad emotions after waking. If the quality of sleep is poor, the risks brought by sleep deprivation at ordinary times cannot be reduced even by sleeping more at weekends. Studies show that test subjects who lack sleep at ordinary times and undergo restorative sleeps at weekends tend to have poorer specific insulin sensitivity of muscles and livers. That is to say, if one sleeps less at ordinary times and wants to make good by sleeping more at weekends, it might instead aggravate metabolic disorders. In such circumstances, one is advised to immediately seek medical attention from hospitals in order to improve the sleep state, instead of blindly “catching up on sleep”.

4.  “Whitening injection” can work instantly


Numerous medical institutions have offered ‘whitening injection”, which can work instantly to help skin thoroughly get whitened. 


At present, all injection-type skin whitening products are neither reliable nor have been approved by the national authorities. For example, tranexamic acid, a main component of a common “whitening injection”, is a coagulant, which is generally used as styptic during perioperative period. There is still no scientific conclusion on whether tranexamic acid can on earth whiten skin. But one thing for sure is that long-term, high-dosage injection would cause the risk of thrombus.   

There are many people using imported beauty products purchased by agents online. These products have not been approved by the State Drug Administration and might cause infection, rejection reaction, allergic reaction and skin fester once entering human body.

The desire to look attractive is universal, but it is inadvisable to try promotions from vendors without second thought. Plastic surgery should be conducted on the premises of safety and no harm to health, but not at the sacrifice of protective functions.

5. Anesthetic sevoflurane can “knock people out” immediately


The “immediately effective” knockout drops as depicted in films and TV shows are true, one of which is sevoflurane.


Sevoflurane is one of the most clinically used anesthetics, but its use is not as simple as “covering one’s nose”. In clinical application, doctors usually would perform inhalation induction using “tidal volume method” or ‘vital capacity method”, in which a normal adult would enter the unconscious state required for surgical anesthesia by wearing a respirator and inhaling 5%-8% sevoflurane for about 2 minutes at the phase of induced anesthesia.

As sevoflurane is highly volatile, an enclosed ventilation circuit that continuously provides anesthetics such as anesthesia apparatus is required in its use. In daily life, it is highly difficult to maintain inhalation of sevoflurane of a certain concentration and inhalation for a certain period of time, so the condition of “passing out at smell and for a long period of time” as depicted in films and TV dramas is formidably difficult to occur.

An analysis from the perspectives of physical and chemical properties and pharmacology shows that all inhaled narcotics at present are impossible to make human consciousness disappear within several seconds. In fact, compared with the “passing out at smell” that people fear, the danger of oral intake of narcotics should even more raise public alert, as perpetrators in most of crimes involving use of narcotics would blend knockout drops into drinks and foods to “trap” victims.

6. Image recognition software is both convenient and reliable for digging wild vegetables


Don’t know any wild vegetables? That’s OK, you can dig wild vegetables in the field by simply downloading a plant recognition software into your cell phone.


It is very dangerous to “identify wild vegetables” for eating using image recognition software. When using such software, the software is highly likely to misjudge if necessary information about flowers and fruits are missing in pictures. Eating poisonous wild vegetables such as cowbane, short-tube lycoris and celandine by mistake is likely to cause body discomfort, even endangering life.

Moreover, wild vegetables are not artificially bred and therefore contain high oxalic acid content, making it easy to cause kidney stone, ureteral calculus and gallstones. It needs to be particularly noted that fiddlehead among wild vegetables contains alkaloid and “ptaquiloside”, which component is highly carcinogenic and the eating of which by mistake must be avoided. 


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