21 Things science is unable to explain
Science has long been able to explain many of the mysteries of the world we live in, but there are still some things out there that even the smartest people can’t explain. From the behavior of ants to what makes people fall in love, these mysteries may just be solvable with the right knowledge, or maybe they’re just things science will never figure out on its own. Here are eight such things science can’t explain . . . yet.
So if you love science and find yourself fascinated by the wonderful mysteries of the world, read on to learn more about 21 fascinating things science can’t explain!
1) Colour Coded Rainbows
Some light refracts within raindrops, resulting in a multi-hued phenomenon known as a color-coded rainbow. While it looks like an optical illusion or a trick of nature, scientists haven’t figured out why it happens. They do know that it only occurs when light enters water droplets at certain angles. But nobody knows why some colors appear and not others. Nobody also knows exactly how far away we have to be from a rainbow for our eyes to perceive its true colors. While some consider these mysteries science cannot explain, others consider them reminders of how much there is still left to learn about our world and beyond.
2) Why Do We Dream?
If you’ve ever awoken from a dream in a cold sweat, feeling like you narrowly escaped some serious danger, you know that dreams can seem eerily real while we’re experiencing them. In fact, one of Freud’s fundamental theories of psychoanalysis is that dreams are externalizations of unconscious desires and conflicts that emerge during REM sleep. But why do we have dreams at all? We still don’t know for sure, but there are two general schools of thought: Freud's psychoanalytic model and Hobson's activation-synthesis theory. Hobson's theory says that dreaming occurs when random brain activity (hippocampal neurons firing) is captured by parts of our memory system and synthesized into stories.
3) Magnetic Personality
Researchers are now getting a better idea of what’s behind our curious fascination with magnets. Though it’s been known for decades that some metals have a measurable magnetic attraction—even though they lack magnetic domains—this phenomenon, known as ferromagnetism, is still not fully understood. But in recent years, researchers have discovered that some organic molecules also exhibit an attraction to magnetic fields. These materials seem to be able to remember their magnetization even after they’ve been subjected to extreme heat and pressure.
4) Do Plants Have Feelings?
Plants respond to threats by releasing chemicals that protect them from insect attacks, but it’s unclear whether they have feelings like we do. Plants react to environmental stimuli just like animals, but they don’t have nervous systems—which begs the question: how do they interpret these events? Does a plant with leaves in two different locations receive two sets of stimuli and act independently, or is there some sort of integrated brain or communication between plants that allows them to react in sync? Regardless of whether plants experience emotions, they sure do seem to be aware of what's going on around them.
The Bermuda Triangle, like so many other areas around earth, is home to several underwater pyramids. Those that are close to land tend to be quite small, while those in deeper waters are much larger. While science is largely unable to explain how these formations came about, they have been found in locations all over Earth. In fact, researchers have discovered them as far away as Malta. The most famous underwater pyramid—the Bimini Road—was found off of Bimini Island in Florida and was reportedly made of huge limestone blocks that rise out of a sand bottom at a 45-degree angle. There are numerous theories surrounding why these pyramids exist and some believe that extraterrestrials may have built them.
5) The Universe Doesn’t Actually End
Although space may appear to have a horizon, it actually goes on forever. And we really mean forever. The Big Bang didn’t start at a certain point in space, leaving a finite amount of material; rather, it created more and more until all of what we know was there from its inception. In other words, if you travel far enough in any direction, you will eventually reach whatever came before our known universe—and then keep going until you reach whatever exists after. This is known as Olbers’ paradox (named for 18th-century German astronomer Heinrich Wilhelm Olbers), which says that an infinite and eternal universe must be infinitely bright or infinitely dark—but either way would be fatal to life as we know it.
7) Placebo Effect
The placebo effect is an incredibly powerful thing. It’s not easy to measure scientifically and it relies a lot on self-reporting, but anecdotally it’s pretty clear that people who believe something will happen tend to experience a placebo effect. One of my favorite examples of the placebo effect involves a study where researchers asked two groups of patients if they believed that receiving an injection would relieve their pain (we don’t know which group was tested with placebos). The researchers then injected one group with real morphine and another with a saline solution; they found that more than twice as many patients in both groups reported relief from pain when they believed they had received morphine—even though none of them actually did.
8) Reverse Speech
Reverse speech is a technique that involves taking an audio recording of speech, playing it backwards, and studying what comes out. The idea is that reverse speech uncovers hidden messages within the original recordings that people aren’t aware of while they speak. These hidden messages are generally believed to be from one’s subconscious mind and to hold powerful information about one’s thoughts and feelings. People who study reverse speech believe it has many applications, including use in law enforcement, as well as for personal insight. Reverse speech cannot currently be scientifically proven or disproven because there isn’t enough research supporting its existence. If you want to try listening for yourself, Reverse Speech Analyzer software is available for free online. Scientists haven't figured out exactly what reverse speech is or why we're capable of doing it yet—so, for now, it remains a mystery
9) The Expanding Universe
Theoretically, if you took a ruler and went outside on a clear night, and looked up at one of those stars—our sun, for example—and then looked back with that same ruler 100 years from now, it would look like our sun had moved. It’s not really moving. The universe is just expanding (hence explaining why everything seems to be moving further away all of a sudden). But we don’t know exactly what’s causing it. That’s why astrophysicists continue to search for an explanation. Right now their best guess is that dark energy—which makes up about 70 percent of our known universe—is responsible for causing it all.
10) Why Planets Don’t Collide
Scientists still don’t fully understand why planets don’t seem to crash into each other. Given that we now know of more than 3,000 of them, perhaps that’s not surprising. With hundreds of billions of stars in our galaxy alone—and trillions and trillions of galaxies in total—the odds are there are plenty more planets out there. This number only increases if you include exoplanets (those orbiting stars outside our solar system). So even if a planet does have an orbit at similar distance to another, it doesn’t mean it will crash into its sibling neighbor.
11) How did life start?
The origin of life is one of humanity’s deepest questions. It’s also one we haven’t even come close to answering yet. Scientists have long believed that life began in a warm little pond, a primordial soup where simple organic molecules formed into polymers, or chains of similar molecules. Eventually these polymers self-replicated and gave rise to more complex entities, which eventually led to life as we know it. But how did these polymers evolve from nonliving matter? There are still some missing links in that explanation.
12) Human mind is still a mystery
The mind is a strange thing. It's an odd concept to wrap your head around, but everything you've ever done or thought has happened in just three pounds of matter between your ears. This little mass contains more neurons than there are stars in our galaxy, so it's not surprising that scientists still don't know exactly how it works. Our inner workings remain one of science's biggest mysteries, but here are 20 things we do know about our brains—the majority of which will make you feel very, very small.
13) How do dreams work?
What we call dreaming is, from a scientific standpoint, an epic fail. Our brains spend about six hours every night happily dreaming away while our bodies lie motionless in a chemically induced coma. What purpose could all that sleep-induced craziness possibly serve? Science has no clue. I know you're waiting for me to crack wise and call it some kind of primeval evolutionary trait meant to protect us from saber tooth tigers or whatever—but if I did, I'd be wrong. Dreaming was long thought to have some adaptive advantage because of its prevalence across multiple species, but then scientists discovered that most mammals don't actually dream and there's no evidence it's even necessary for survival. In fact, scientists aren't even sure what state of consciousness people are in when they're dreaming. So why do we do it?
14) How did galaxies form?
We know that massive stars end their lives in a supernova explosion, which can produce an expanding remnant of gas and dust. If there's enough matter around these remnants, gravity takes over and clumps it together to form a new galaxy. But how do we get from a single dead star to a massive cluster of millions of stars? A new study published in Science attempts to answer that question using computer simulations. It finds that gravity alone may not be enough to pull everything together - so if you're hoping for an easy answer, you're probably going to be disappointed. Instead, it appears as though supernovae may just be part of a cycle that keeps building on itself over time.
15) Is there more than 4 dimensions?
One of Einstein's contemporaries, Theodor Kaluza, developed a hypothesis which suggested that we only inhabit 3 out of 5 dimensions (height, width, depth and time) with an additional 2 dimensions existing on another plane. While it has never been proven to be correct, his hypothesis could revolutionize our understanding of physics in future. Is there more than 4 dimensions? We might have to wait for proof. In addition, Steven Hawking theorized that string theory might explain multiple dimensions. These strings are tiny energetic loops coiled into incredibly small spaces so far as to not have been detected yet by conventional means and is sometimes called membrane theory or String Theory because of their string-like characteristics which exist at each point in these extra dimensions. If strings can exist within other dimensions and act as bridges between different levels/dimensions then theoretically, humans could use these bridges or tunnels as a way to traverse other universes!
16) Where does consciousness come from?
This is a question science cannot answer—at least not yet. We know that consciousness arises from our brain, but how it occurs and what role it plays in our lives are still unknowns. Some researchers believe there is a finite amount of consciousness, while others speculate that we experience only a tiny fraction of what could be available to us. No matter what your take on consciousness may be, you’re probably inclined to agree that it’s an unexplainable thing—but fascinating just the same.
17) What makes us humans different from animals?
There are many things that make us different from animals, but it all comes down to one thing: our brain. One way humans’ bigger brains may have made a difference is in tool use. Some anthropologists believe early humans started using simple tools nearly two million years ago, which could explain why they evolved larger brains than other animals with similar body sizes. The recent discovery of Australopithecus sediba (pictured) may help settle some of these debates—it appears to have possessed humanlike feet, while still having a small brain and apelike teeth. That suggests A. sediba might be an ancestor of both modern-day humans and apes, further muddying any efforts to identify what makes our species unique.
18) What was before the Big Bang?
As Stephen Hawking once said, If we do discover a complete theory, it should in time be understandable by everyone, not just a few scientists. Then we shall all, philosophers, scientists and just ordinary people be able to take part in ...the discussion of why it is that we and the universe exist. Science can explain how life on Earth formed billions of years ago and can tell us with great certainty when life began. But what was before that? What created everything? Why does anything exist at all? We don’t know. In some ways, science can even explain how quantum physics works; but when it comes to understanding why things are as they are now, science has absolutely no clue.
19) What are parallel universes and how are they connected to black holes?
While we have absolutely no way of proving it, many physicists believe that our universe is not alone in its existence. We live in a sea of multiple universes, all existing in parallel to each other. These are called parallel universes or alternative universes and there's some solid science behind them. In fact, for decades now, there have been some rather convincing hypotheses about how our universe might be connected to other universes through what are known as 'wormholes.' Like an entrance from one universe into another. Something that looks like a black hole but isn't really.
20) Do we have only 1 soul or many?
It has long been believed that each of us is made up of two parts: A body and a soul. However, recent scientific evidence and discoveries have led some to question that notion. For example, research conducted in 1998 revealed that during sleep, a portion of your mind remains alert and active while another part enters a state similar to sleep. In other words, you may not be aware of it, but there are times when your soul is awake even though your body sleeps. And if a portion of our minds can stay awake even as our bodies rest, does that mean we're composed of multiple souls? The answer to that question continues to elude science. Scientists aren't sure if we have one soul or many or if each person's physical makeup comprises one complete soul or smaller fragments.
21) Does dark matter really exist?
In physics, matter is any substance that has mass and takes up space by having volume. Dark matter is a hypothetical type of matter that interacts gravitationally with visible matter but not electromagnetically or by any other means. Some scientists think it makes up about 23 percent of all matter in our universe, but others aren’t so sure. To find out if dark matter really exists and what it's made of, more research needs to be done in particle physics. Until then, only time will tell whether or not dark matter really does exist! As Arthur C. Clarke once said: When a distinguished but elderly scientist states that something is possible he is almost certainly right; when he states that something is impossible, he is very probably wrong.