5 Mysteries Science Just Can’t Explain


Here’s a well-deserved nod to science. Scientific advances have improved every notable aspect of human existence. Of course, these range from our health and lifespan to air travel to the 5-inch computers we can fit in our pocket.

“The most beautiful thing we can experience is the Mysterious.” – Albert Einstein

But, as incredible as science is – and despite all the leaps forward – there are some things that science just can’t explain. Will science eventually be able to explain everything? Maybe. But for now, scientists the world over remain genuinely puzzled about seemingly inexplicable phenomena.

In this article, we will talk about the five biggest mysteries facing science today. However, let’s start with a tip of our collective caps to the scientists, engineers, and inventors who made some incredible advances.

A Brief History of Science

So, as part of the nod to science, here are some important scientific and technological advances to date:

Date (or approximate)

Invention/Discovery

Paved the way for….

10 million years ago Humans make first tools Tools and machines
1-2 million years ago Humans discover fire Fuel, candles, engines
10,000 BCE Construction of first ships Boats, ships, sea craft

 

8000-9000 BCE Development of agriculture and construction techniques Buildings, aquafers, biofuels, housing

 

3500 BCE The wheel is invented Wheels and axles
3000 BCE Development of first writing tools Pens, typewriters
2500 BCE Production of early versions of paper (papyrus) Paper
2000 BCE Development of early lifting devices Elevators, escalators
1000 BCE The ‘Iron Age’ Iron and steel
c. 150-100 BCE Development of precision, gear-driven clockwork machines Clockwork
c. 50 BCE Design of the water wheel (turbine) Turbines
62 CE Development of steam power Steam engines
700-900 CE The invention of gunpowder and fireworks Ammunition, fireworks, detonation devices
1200 The invention of a flushing device Toilets
1450 Gutenberg develops the printing press Printing
1590 The first microscope is invented Microscopes, electron microscopes
1687 Newton develops laws of motion Motion, gravity
1703 Gottfried Leibniz pioneers the first binary number system Computer programming
1730s-1770s Development of chronometers Satellite navigation, quartz clocks, and watches
1814 George Stephenson engineers the first steam locomotive Steam engines
1830s William Sturgeon develops the first electric motor Electric motors
1840s Development of the electric telegraph Telegraph machines, telephones
1839 Charles Goodyear develops a durable firm of rubber (vulcanized rubber) Rubber, car tires
1850s Louis Pasteur develops pasteurization – a method of heating and killing bacteria Pasteurization
1860s Pioneering of the internal combustion engine by Etienne Lenoir and Nikolaus Otto Car engines
1870s Edison invents the phonograph Record players, sound
1880s Edison patents the incandescent electric lamp Lamps
1890s Louis and Joseph Lumiere patent movie projectors and open the first movie theatres Projection machines, cinema
1900s
The first radio wave signals are transmitted from across the Atlantic Ocean Radio
1908 Henry Ford launches the Ford Model T Automobiles, auto manufacturing
1920s Development of electronic television Television
1930s Robert Watson Watt leads the development of radar Radar
1940s The mass productions of penicillin; development of the first transistors Genetics, genetic research
1950s Jonas Silk develops and tests first polio vaccine Pharmacological research, aversion of disability
1960s Development of ARPANET, the predecessor of the internet Internet conception
1970s Voyager Program Solar System exploration
1980s Tim Berners-Lee creates World Wide Web Internet infrastructure
1990s Mapping of the human genome Genetic research, disease research, and prevention
2000s Stem cell research and programming Disease prevention, disease, and disability research
2010s IBM creates chips that mimic human brains Deep learning

 

By no means is this a comprehensive list. However, it shows us the inventiveness and intelligence of scientists.

Now, what hasn’t science been able to explain (yet)? Let’s go!

Mysteries that Science Can’t Explain

  1. Dark Matter

Even the famed astrophysicist and genius Neil deGrasse Tyson has difficulty explaining dark matter. “Dark matter…I gotta ask what it is, and my best answer is ‘We haven’t a clue (laughs)’…We don’t know what it is.”

Tyson also notes that 85 percent of the Universe comes from the unknown source that is dark matter.

“We add up all the stars, galaxies, planets, comets, black holes, dark clouds, everything that we can (sense), and it doesn’t add up to give us the gravity that we see operating in this universe.”

So, what is dark matter? It’s a “hypothetical form of matter” that, as deGrasse Tyson states, is the “greatest unsolved mystery in the history of astrophysics.” The only thing that science proves is that this dark matter produces gravitational effects that impact galaxies and star clusters.

  1. Sleep

Why do we sleep? “It’s because we’re tired, duh!” Fair enough and, indeed, correct! If only science were that simple!

But what scientists are referring to is this: the need to sleep when you’re tired. In other words, why can’t you feel as tired as you want and stay awake? It’s probably accurate to say that most people would do exactly that if they could. Sleeping takes a big chunk out of our modest 70 to 80-year average lifespan.

Theories abound, of course. Jerry Siegel, a professor of psychiatry at UCLA in Los Angeles, California, explains his hypothesis: “Across species, energy savings is the main evolutionary impulse for sleep.” In the wild, animals that expend their energy quickly are more likely to perish. Well, if nature has taught us anything, it’s that human beings possess an innate and powerful survival mechanism. And, that’s a true fact among other species, also.

  1. Consciousness

Attempting to explain consciousness is akin to trying to sprint across an ice skating rink. We know we’re alive; we know that we exist, right? Right?

For all the advances in science, experts who research that the brain cannot state with any confidence that the brain causes consciousness. In fact, there is a multitude of evidence that points to consciousness existing, at least in part, outside of the brain.

Not only is the subject of consciousness perplexing. Also, it can get just plain weird. Russell Targ, a laser physicist by trade, was tasked by the U.S. intelligence community, including the CIA, Army Intelligence, Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), and NASA to conduct research into remote viewing, the “practice of seeking impressions about a distant or unseen target” using extrasensory perception (ESP).

Targ and his partner, Harold Puthoff of Stanford Research Institute (SRI) successfully conducted remote spying operations for over 20 years. Targ and Puthoff’s research is published in numerous prestigious journals, including the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE).

How is one able to “sense” to “see” something without physically being present? Such a phenomenon is only explainable if awareness – an element of consciousness – exists somewhere outside of the body. “My opinion is that who you are is non-local awareness independent of space and time,” says Targ.

  1. Origin of the Universe

Humans have been asking “Where did we come from?” since the beginning of time. As technology continues to evolve, demand for answers to this question is becoming increasingly vociferous.

The “Big Bang” theory is science’s answer to the question, though the theory leaves much to be desired for some. In simple terms, the Big Bang Theory proposes that the Universe began at a single moment in time and from one point. Eventually, it expanded to the Universe that we “know” today. Most scientists believe that the Universe evolved from a singularity – a “very hot, small, and dense super-force, with no stars, atoms, forms or structures.”

Unfortunately, the Big Bang Theory may never be proven. Then there’s the question, “Where did the ‘singularity’ come from?” But, for now, our collective head hurts.

  1. Intelligent Life (UFOs)

“E.T. phone home.”

With these words, our civilization’s interest in living forms that exist outside of our curious eyeballs reached its peak. Sadly, no Reese’s-Pieces-loving alien that misses home has been discovered.

That’s not to say that there haven’t been sightings. There’ve been plenty. Even some government spacecraft (read: astronauts) and pilots on top-secret excursions have seen weird things fly across the sky. Then there’s Area 51, but we don’t have all day.

We simply do not have any evidence of intelligent life outside of humans. Moreover, it seems that we need proof of everything nowadays. However, there may just be a teensy-weensy problem with the whole “proof” thing.

The SETI Institute, which has been watching for alien activity for decades, uses high-powered, state-of-the-art technology in their mission.

The potential problem? Well, all the expensive observation equipment is designed for use by humans. In other words, humans have created it using what humans understand concerning the properties of the universe (e.g. physics). Any observation must be perceived through human senses and validated using human judgment. The problem? Well, the hypothetical aliens aren’t human!

If intelligent life exists, it’s probably a different species altogether. Such a hypothetical species may have different senses, technology, and means of observation and validation. If it’s an interplanetary species, their technology is probably light-years (pun intended) beyond ours. May be time to rethink our approach. Just sayin’.

science

The Future of Science

In short, there are plenty of things we simply do not understand at this point in human development. Of course, who knows what tomorrow may bring? In the meantime, not understanding some of these things should not cause any of us to fear or worry. We can ponder. We can wonder. And we can even have some crazy theories and interesting discussions about the possibilities. So, embrace the truth that we don’t know everything. However, that fact should not keep us from living positive, full lives.



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