Nope! 3 Things That Work the Opposite of What You Think
Intuition can often lead us astray, especially with things that are "obvious". Questioning them can uncover opportunities.
Entrepreneurs can create opportunities by questioning the things that everyone “knows” to be true. It’s by rejecting surface level explanations that innovators can uncover true problems and deeper solutions.
In the same way, when we rely on conventional wisdom about the world without digging any deeper, it’s surprising just how wrong we can be.
Here are 3 things that work completely the opposite of how you think they do:
1. Boat Anchors: the anchor isn’t actually what holds the boat in place
Most people have seen a boat anchor either in person or on shows like “Popeye,” where the titular sailor throws overboard a large black iron anchor that holds the boat in place. That is entirely wrong.
The reason the boat doesn’t move isn’t because of the anchor itself; it’s the chain that connects the boat to the anchor - also known as the rode - that creates friction that drags on the ocean floor. It’s not a straight line of chain; you end up putting out hundreds of feet of chain, and part of it dangles like a curve while the rest lies at the bottom of the ocean. Usually it’s a 5:1 or 7:1 “scope” (the ratio of rode/chain to the depth of water). If you’re in 30 feet of water, you may put out 150 to 200 feet of rode with most of that lying on the ocean floor. This is what keeps the boat from moving, and the anchor’s main purpose is actually to keep the rode in place.
2. Pirate Eyepatches: it’s not about covering up an eye injury
Many assume that pirates wore eyepatches to hide eye injuries sustained in battle, but in fact, most pirates were covering an entirely healthy eye. The eyepatch was actually worn strategically to improve their vision.
A pirate on the deck of a ship would cover one of their eyes with an eyepatch so that they would only see daylight through one eye. Then as soon as they’d go below deck where there was little-to-no light, they would quickly slide the eyepatch to their other eye. The dark-adapted eye would already be adjusted to the lack of light below deck, and so the pirate would be able to see clearly right away.
It takes approximately 20-30 minutes for the human eye to switch from light to dark conditions - an unwelcome scenario for pirates who are constantly moving between decks - and there’s no way to accelerate this process other than through the use of an eyepatch. While the eyepatch-wearing pirate loses depth perception because they’re only using one eye, they gain the ability to quickly see in very different light conditions.
3. Traveling to the Sun: it’s way easier to get to Pluto than to get to the Sun
Once you get to outer space, you need to be careful about falling towards the sun because it’s constantly pulling us towards it, right? Nope – it turns out it is ~10x harder to hit the sun than it is to get to Pluto!
Earth is orbiting around the sun with a tangential velocity of 30 kilometers per second (km/s) so that as we fall towards the sun, we continually miss it (this is how all orbits work). To hit the sun, you have to somehow decrease your tangential velocity down to 0 km/s so that you can fall straight towards the sun without looping around it. While hitting the sun requires a delta-v (change in velocity) of 30 km/s, to get to Pluto you only need a delta-v of 25 km/s, as its tangential velocity is 5 km/s.
Take a look at the video below from “Minute Physics” (Ubiquity Ventures is a sponsor of this and several other nerdy YouTube channels) to learn more about why traveling to the sun is so counterintuitively difficult:
Back to startups: as an entrepreneur, you’re disrupting industries and changing the future. However, it’s important to beware of falling into the trap of accepting conventional wisdom as irrevocable truth; as we’ve shown in the three examples above, the reality can be the opposite. Often, it’s best to forget the lessons of the past and all hearsay, and to instead try to drive things to their origin to think through how they work for yourself.
Ubiquity Ventures — led by Sunil Nagaraj — is a seed-stage venture capital firm focused on startups solving real-world physical problems with "software beyond the screen", often using smart hardware or machine learning.
Are you pushing software beyond the screen? Using smart hardware or machine learning to do something in or understand the real world? Let’s talk!
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