10 Unsolved Mysteries Of Science

10 Unsolved Mysteries of Science 10 Before the Big Bang I can’t really think of a bigger scientific question than how everything began

Unfortunately, it’s probably the hardest one to answer The big bang theory, no not that one [show BBT cast], is the established way of explaining how our universe started That’s the idea that all of its elements were squeezed to an incredibly dense pocket and exploded out faster than light speed, populating that space with particles Right or wrong, that’s all well and good as a theory But it still leaves a lot of questions

Like What caused the Big Bang to happen? What was there before it? And what happened to it? Right now, science can only guess The big bounce is another popular theory, which suggests that the big bang followed on from the collapse of another universe, AKA the big crunch, possibly in a cycle That’s a nice idea, but it defies the physical law of increasing entropy and it doesn’t explain how that cycle started 9 Alien Life The universe is a pretty big place

So you’d think that surely there’s alien life out there somewhere Well don’t worry, it’s not just you In 1950, Italian nuclear physicist Enrico Fermi proposed the Fermi Paradox during a conversation with his colleagues The idea is that in terms of pure probability, the universe should be crawling with alien life, and we should have encountered it several times over But conspiracy theories aside, that clearly hasn’t happened

Similarly, American Astrophysicist Dr Frank Drake proposed the Drake equation in 1961 [too detailed to explain – show formula on screen] to estimate the number of alien civilisations in the universe Even the most conservative estimates suggest around 15,000 civilisations, but Drake’s original calculations suggest 28 quintillion One solution comes from the MIT astronomer John Ball’s “zoo” hypothesis, which suggests aliens have avoided us until we’re ready, kind of like the Prime Directive in Star Trek

Either that, or we just don’t know how to receive alien communications Who knows? 8 The Cambrian Explosion Evolution is far from a straight line In fact, there was a several billion year period where life was limited to simple organisms forming a gooey carpet on the seafloor But then, roughly 540 million years ago, something truly bizarre happened

In a period of just 80 million years, that gooey mass turned into a vibrant ecosystem of familiar creatures in what’s called the Cambrian Explosion They had eyes, brains, mouths, everything you need to be a terrifying prehistoric predator But how did this happen in such a short space of time? Scientists have absolutely no idea Some scientists have suggested that an environmental shift massively increased the oxygen makeup, while others have suggested a major improvement like sight sparking a wave of other evolutionary developments But with such little knowledge about the chemical makeup of the ocean floor even today, it's all speculation at this point 7

Sleep Rest is one of the most fundamental processes in pretty much all living beings Even simple animals like Jellyfish need a nap now and then So you would think that by now we would know everything there is to know about sleep We do know quite a lot, like how to promote healthy sleeping habits or what happens when you're sleep deprived But we still don’t really know why all animals have evolved to endanger themselves by being unconscious for a big chunk of their lives

Thanks to a 1907 experiment into sleep deprivation in dogs, we know that there is a chemical basis for inducing sleep, which was at the time called ‘hypnotoxin’ And recent research into genetically tired mice suggests that the gene SIK3 could control sleeping But all of that is just the tip of the iceberg The data is there, but the logic is mostly still a mystery 6

ASMR If you’ve spent a decent amount of time on the internet, you might have come across the strange phenomenon that is Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response, also known as ASMR The term refers to the tingling sensation your brain feels in response things like soft whispering, scratching sounds or close personal contact It only really made its way onto the scientific radar recently, after sites like Youtube exploded with ASMR content and testimonies about their relaxing qualities But research is starting to unravel the mysteries of how and why it works For one thing, the first ASMR study in 2015 found a link between ASMR and relief from insomnia and feelings of stress

But since then, more detailed studies have found that the brains of people who experience ASMR light up in different places to others while listening to it It’s suspected that ASMR is related to synesthesia, the phenomenon where people can ‘see’ sounds But ultimately, it’s completely uncertain 5 Planet 9 Back in 2006, the solar system dropped down from nine planets to eight when pluto was demoted

But now it looks like we might have another challenger in the ring Or maybe not No one’s quite sure In any case, astronomers Konstantin Batygin and Michael E Brown proposed in 2016 that there’s a super-planet on the far edge of our solar system

It could be as much as ten times the size of earth and twenty times neptune’s distance from the sun The theory is based on observations that celestial bodies beyond neptune experienced a gravitational pull that didn’t fit with our current model of the solar system In other words, something else was acting on them It’s a nice theory, and one that could very well be true, but we just don’t have any proof in either direction If planet 9 does exist, it’s so dim that we can’t observe it with current instruments

But the math is there, so we’ll just have to see 4 Consciousness In pure scientific terms, the human body is a biological machine So why is it that the parts of that machine come together in a way that gives us a sense of our own existence, in a way that other biological beings don’t? It could easily be the case that our body functions like a well-programmed robot, but for some reason there’s a conscious being under the surface Philosopher and cognitive scientist David Chalmers calls that the so-called ‘hard problem’ of consciousness

He says that even if we solved all the ‘easy’ problems, like how we react to stimuli and process information, we still wouldn’t know how humans have a sense of experience, or being, inside their own heads And it’s not just a fundamental question of neuroscience The hard problem could have troubling implications when it comes to artificial intelligence If we can’t explain the ‘hard problem’, we can’t know if we have created truly conscious machines 3

Dark Matter & Dark Energy It’s pretty easy to look up into the sky and marvel at just how much stuff there is out there But what if I told you that the visible universe makes up just five percent of its contents? In fact, the other 95% is made up of dark matter and dark energy No one has ever actually observed dark matter in any form That’s because it doesn’t interact with light or radiation, so it’s impossible using existing instruments That means we don’t really know what it is, but we know it exists since it has a gravitational effect on regular matter

There are a few ideas to explain what makes up dark matter, like Axions and Weakly Interacting Massive Particles These theoretical particles only interact with gravity, so they could fit the bill Then there’s The Kaluza-Klein particle, which theoretically exists and affects the universe, but in an unobservable 5th dimension Right now though, it’s anyone’s guess 2

Origins of life The origin of life on earth is one of the fundamental questions of science, and one that has perplexed scholars for centuries But a lot of scientists think they’re on the right track when it comes to abiogenesis, or in layman’s terms, life from nothing Evidence suggests that life began at a microbial level around three point seven billion years ago That’s only around eight hundred million after the earth was created So with not much more than a speck of a fossil, it’s mostly speculation and theory

The biggest problem for abiogenesis is the molecular chicken and egg You see, both protein and DNA need each other to replicate and create life, but neither can exist in the first place without the other The most widely accepted answer to that problem is that self-replicating RNA preceded DNA and proteins But that still doesn’t explain how molecules as complex as RNA first appeared 1

Matter-Antimatter Asymmetry When the big bang created the universe as we know it, there should have been equal amounts of matter and antimatter particles, each of which has the same mass but opposite charge When the two collide, they should destroy each other, leaving nothing but energy behind But there’s a bit of a problem Since according to the laws of physics, matter and antimatter are always created in pairs, the two should have left the universe as nothing but an expanse of energy But we’re still left with one particle of matter in every billion from the big bang

That’s what forms the universe The standard model of physics allows for a small amount of difference between matter and antimatter numbers, but nowhere near the amount in our universe However, scientists at the Large Hadron Collider have managed to recreate decays in certain types of baryon particles that demonstrate real world asymmetry That could be the first step to understanding why we have matter That was 10 Unsolved Mysteries of Science

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