Mankind has come a long way over the last 10,000 years or so and science, in particular, has seen huge developments in just the last 100 years.
Yet, for all the things that we have learned, there are many other things that still leave scientists scratching their heads bemusedly.
Here we share with you 15 mysteries that currently leave scientists stupified. The answers to each of these problems are simply beyond our abilities at this moment in time to figure out.
We think it's good that there are still things that we don't know about the universe. It means we still have plenty to discover.
1. What Happens If You Fall Into A Black Hole
There are three theories about this: the first says you don't notice until you cross the event horizon, the second says you get stretched out like spaghetti and the third says you hit a firewall and get incinerated. For any of them to be right would mean that other laws of physics, as we know them, are wrong.
2. Where Does The Energy Come From?
Cosmic rays hit the earth all the time and there is a limit, "the GZK limit," which dictates the maximum energy they can have. However, in Japan at the Akeno Observatory, they have proven that this limit is regularly broken. Nobody knows why.
3. Why A Tomato Has More Genes Than You Do
You have fewer than 30,000 genes. Tomatoes have more than 30,000. Why? Great question, but one nobody can answer. This problem is known as the "C-Value Enigma" and has been taunting biologists for decades.
4. Where Emerging Lines On Mars Are From
In hot weather on Mars, lines like these appear on the surface of the mountains and they travel in a downhill direction. They disappear in cold weather. As far as we can tell, they have no water component, but that's as much as we know.
5. How The Placebo Effect Functions
The placebo effect is well documented. It means that you can be given treatment that is non-medicinal and if you believe it will work, in about 70% of cases it will work. Scientists are completely unable to work out why this is true.
6. Why It Was So Hot In The Eocene Epoch
If you were to go back to roughly 56-34 million years ago, you would be in the Eocene Epoch. One unusual thing about this time was how hot it was. The temperature at the poles would have been roughly 15-20 centigrade. We don't know why this should have been, though.
7. Whether There's Life On Mars
We sent the Viking probe to Mars to see if there was life. It ran three tests. One said "yes," two said "no." It was decided that meant there was no life on Mars. Then in 2012, other scientists looked at the Viking data and showed it to be problematic, and now we're back to "don't know if there's life on Mars."
8. Why The Sun's Surface Is Cooler Than Its Atmosphere
The surface of the sun reaches about 5,000 degrees centigrade, which is very hot. However, it's nowhere near as hot as the sun's atmosphere (corona) which is 2 million degrees centigrade. There's no clear reason as to why this should be the case.
9. Where The First Liquid Water Came From
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Go back about 3.8 - 2.4 billion years, and the sun would have been much weaker than today and would not have provided enough heat to melt the ice on earth. Yet, liquid water was still found on earth at that time. Nobody can explain why.
10. How Long The Coastline Of An Island Is
Coastlines are fractal. That means every time you zoom in on an aspect of a coastline, it becomes a more complex version of the pattern you observe on a larger scale. So while anyone can estimate the length of an island's coast, no-one can measure it with any accuracy.
11. Where Are The Extra-Terrestrials?
This is a tricky question. Given there are trillions of stars in our galaxy and that some must have earth-like planets which have evolved life and some proportion of those lifeforms must have developed interstellar travel, why have we never met any aliens?
12. Why Are Magnets Bipolar
All naturally existing magnets have a North and a South pole, and even if you cut them in half, the resulting halves will have two poles. Theory says that magnetic monopoles (a magnet with just one pole) should exist, but while they can be made in a lab, nobody's ever found a monopole in the real world.
13. Where All The Phytoplankton Went
Phytoplankton are tiny organisms which live in the sea. In parts of the Antarctic, there are perfect conditions for them to live and yet, they don't live there. Scientists would love to know why.
14. Where All The Lithium Went
Scientists working on data from the Big Bang are unable to find about two-thirds of the Lithium that should be in the universe. Where it went is a mystery.
15. Why Blue Whales Have Less Cancer Than People
Given blue whales are much bigger than people, you'd think they'd get cancer more than us, but they don't. There is no relationship between the size of an animal and the frequency at which it suffers from cancers. This is called "Peto's Paradox."
Aren't those incredible mysteries? Of course, they won't be mysteries forever. One day, science will solve them. It's just a question of when.
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