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  • Cheryl Tan

Using Phones at Gas Stations Cause Explosions? 5 Tech Myths Most Singaporean Parents Believe

Updated: Dec 17, 2023

“Don’t use your phone at the petrol kiosk, later explode then you know!” Hands up if you’ve ever heard that line from your parents. I believed in it for a while and made sure I locked and put my phone away every time my dad would pull into a gas station, until I Googled it and found that it’s just a baseless myth. So here are five Asian tech myths that you can refute your parents’ nagging with.

1. Using Phones at A Gas Station Might Cause Explosions

Using Phones at A Gas Station Might Cause Explosions
Credit: Lagos State Emergency Management Agency

This myth came from a claim in the 1990s that the microwaves from a phone could generate a spark to ignite petrol fumes. Even the Discovery Channel’s Mythbusters programme tested this out, and found that it’s patently false.

Robert Renkes, previously the executive vice-president of US trade association Petroleum Equipment Institute, explained that it was static electricity from the human body causing sparks when it comes in contact with the petrol pump.

2. The More Megapixels in A Camera, The Better The Photo

The More Megapixels in A Camera,

If I had a dollar everytime someone said “Wa 18 megapixels, means this camera very good right? Photos will come out very nice?”, I might be rich by now.

No, sensors with a higher megapixel count might produce photos with better resolution for cropping and printing, but the sensor quality and lens quality plays a much bigger part in determining whether a photo is good.

3. Everybody Working in Tech Can Fix Computers

Everybody Working in Tech Can Fix Computers

Whenever I tell my middle-aged relatives I’m writing about tech, they ask “so can I call you if I need help with my computer?”. It irks me because even though I’m able to build my own computers and troubleshoot general issues, it doesn’t mean everybody who works in tech will.

What if someone’s job revolves mainly around fixing audio products? They might or might not know how to fix computers, but I’m sure they won’t appreciate being generalised, so don’t do it!

4. Charging Phones Overnight Kills The Batteries

This is a slightly older one; I remember when I was a kid and my parents would never let me plug my phone into a power source overnight because it would degrade the batteries. While it is true that batteries are in a state of constant decay, it’s all about the cycle count.

Modern batteries are generally rated for around 400 charge cycles before the battery starts to show any obvious sign of degrading, and even then, it’s a slow and gradual process. My three year old iPhone 7 Plus Still has a maximum battery capacity of 88%, and lasts a full day on a charge. So go ahead and leave your phone plugged in, batteries can always be replaced anyway.

5. Airport X-Ray Machines Wipe Laptops, Phones Or Cameras

This is another old myth that no longer holds true today. Airport X-ray machines previously did use to damage undeveloped camera film, which resulted in lead-lined bags used by photographers to protect their film.

Modern electronics however, aren’t subject to this. Laptops, hard drives, phones and cameras that use SD cards will be completely safe. I’d be more worried about mechanical hard drives getting jostled in bags and having the moving parts damaged!

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