One student did a project about landfills. Her background research described the importance of preventing the release of certain chemicals into the atmosphere -- chemicals such as dihydrogen
I smiled when I read that. The "evils" of DHMO are part of a famous science hoax, a very funny one that supposedly began more than 20 years ago on the University of California, Santa Cruz, campus. It crops up every so often.
Propaganda opposing DHMO cites the substance's presence in acid rain, use in naval warfare, and the fact that professional athltes can become dependent on its performance-enhancing abilities. Seriously, you should conduct a Google search of DHMO if you haven't seen this list. It's even funnier than that YouTube video showing the dancing Christmas tree surprising the cat. (If you haven't figured out yet what dihydrogen monoxide is, write out the chemical formula. Really? Okay, it's water. Now go tear up your doctoral diploma.)
I used to use the dihydrogen monoxide hoax on the first day of a class I taught about the public perception of science. After distributing a DHMO "fact sheet" detailing its dangers, I'd ask the students to decide the fate of this chemical. Most semesters, between one-quarter and one-half of the students voted to regulate or ban outright the scary-sounding DHMO.
These were college students. Mostly science majors. At Johns Hopkins University. Which must be a smart school because that's where they filmed The Social Network.