As we grow older, we realize that even the facts we once believed to be absolute can change over time. This is because knowledge and understanding are constantly evolving. Several facts that we learned about in school may have changed or were taught in a manner that failed to capture the full truth. In this article, we will re-educate ourselves on nine such facts, while maintaining the scientific integrity of the information.

Fact 1: America’s Independence Day:

THEN: America won its independence on July 4, 1776
NOW: America was not officially independent until seven years later, in 1783.

America celebrates its independence on July 4th with parades, barbecues, and fireworks. However, it is important to note that while the Declaration of Independence was adopted on July 4, 1776, and signed by the 13 colonies in August, America was not yet free from Great Britain’s rule. The American Revolution continued until the signing of the Treaty of Paris on September 3, 1783, marking America’s true independence.

Fact 2: George Washington’s Teeth:

THEN: George Washington’s teeth were made of wood
NOW: Washington’s teeth were human teeth from his slaves and also made from ivory.

Contrary to popular belief, George Washington’s teeth were not made of wood. Instead, his dentures were made from a combination of human teeth from his slaves and ivory. While history cannot determine which individuals the teeth were sourced from, written evidence suggests that Washington purchased teeth from slaves and even kept a ledger of these transactions. Slaves during the 18th century sometimes sold their teeth to dentists to earn money, and so it is likely that Washington had these teeth implanted surgically.

Fact 3: Pluto as a Planet

THEN: Pluto is a planet
NOW: Pluto isn’t a planet.

Pluto’s status as a planet has changed over the years. Previously, it was considered the ninth planet in our solar system. However, in 2003, astronomers discovered a larger object beyond Pluto named Eris, which prompted a reevaluation of what qualifies as a planet. Based on size and location, Pluto, along with Eris, was reclassified as a dwarf planet. Although there are ongoing debates on whether to reinstate Pluto’s planet status, currently, it is classified as a dwarf planet.

Pluto is no longer considered a planet.

Fact 4: The Hardest Substance

THEN: Diamond is the hardest substance
NOW: Ultrahard nanotwinned cubic boron nitride is the hardest substance.

Contrary to what we previously believed, researchers have discovered substances harder than diamonds. Wurtzite boron nitride and lonsdaleite were found to resist indentation with more strength than diamonds. However, these substances are rare and unstable. Another contender, ultrahard nanotwinned cubic boron nitride, which was created by compressing boron nitride particles, has also been identified as a harder substance.

Fact 5: Salem Witch Trials

THEN: Witches in Salem were burned at the stake
NOW: They were actually hanged.

Contrary to popular belief, the witches accused during the Salem Witch Trials were not burned at the stake. At the time, New England followed English law, which prescribed hanging as the punishment for witchcraft, not burning at the stake. Burning witches at the stake was a practice seen in Europe, where witchcraft was considered heresy.

Fact 6: Builders of the Pyramids

THEN: Israelite slaves built the pyramids
NOW: Egyptian workers built the pyramids themselves.

Contrary to what some believe, the pyramids were not built by Israelite slaves. Recent archaeological findings indicate that Egyptians themselves constructed the pyramids. Workers were recruited from poor families across the country and were highly respected for their work. These workers were even given burial crypts near the pyramids, demonstrating the level of honor and respect they received.

Fact 7: Folding Paper

THEN: Folding a piece of paper more than seven times is mathematically impossible.
NOW: The record stands at 13.

The notion that folding a piece of paper more than seven times is impossible is incorrect. Britney Gallivan, a high school student, managed to fold a giant roll of toilet paper a surprising 11 times. She discovered that the key was to alternate the folding direction correctly. Students at St. Mark’s School in Massachusetts broke Gallivan’s record by folding paper 13 times.

Fact 8: Great Wall of China

THEN: The Great Wall of China is the only man-made structure visible from space.
NOW: Many man-made places are visible from space.

Contrary to popular belief, the Great Wall of China is not the only man-made structure visible from space. Although this rumor has persisted for a long time, it was finally debunked by the first Chinese astronaut, Yang Liwei. While the Great Wall can be seen under certain conditions, such as with snow or with a zoom-capable camera, there are many other man-made structures that can be observed from space. This includes the lights of large cities, major roadways, bridges, airports, dams, and reservoirs.

Fact 9: Classification of Life

THEN: Five (or three) kingdoms of classification exist.
NOW: There might be as many as eight kingdoms.

When we were in school, we learned about the three main kingdoms of life (animals, plants, and bacteria) or the expanded version of five, which included fungi and protists. However, scientists have now identified more complexity in the classification of life. There are currently six kingdoms recognized in the U.S.: plants, animals, protists, fungi, archaebacteria, and eubacteria. Additionally, there could be as many as eight kingdoms, including further classifications within bacteria and protists.

The Evolution of Knowledge

The knowledge we gain throughout our lives is ever-changing. What we believed to be true in the past may have been corrected, or even misunderstood. By staying open to new information and embracing the evolution of knowledge, we have the opportunity to continually educate ourselves. Understanding these nine facts that have changed or were taught wrongly helps us realize the importance of questioning and reevaluating what we consider to be true.

1. Business Insider