The Simplest Things That Scientists Still Can’t Explain

February 23, 2017

Scientists are some of the top minds in the entire world, but there are some things that even these great thinkers still can’t understand. Let’s take a look at some of the biggest mysteries that still remain in our Universe.

Why the Universe Exists

[Image Source: NASA]

You may think that the universe exists because of the big bang, or because of a plethora of reasons, but scientists still aren’t sure. There lies a great deal of theoretical framework behind why the Universe exists, but scientists can’t really come to an agreement. Leading ideas propose that the universe comes from an unstable nothingness. This nothingness would be so unstable that it could generate matter and energy that would always come to zero to continue achieving a principle of “nothingness.” This could be accomplished through dark matter, another thing scientists don’t understand [see below].

This universe may also be one in many other universes, playing into the multiverse theory. All of the models that have been developed around the universe’s beginning could be feasible, there just isn’t enough data to prove anything definitively yet. Most of the models don’t offer testable hypotheses, rather they seek to solve the problem mathematically. While mathematical models are fine in theory, they can easily break down in actuality and their validity is hard to prove. So, we don’t really understand why we exist.

Why Blue Whales Don’t Get More Cancer

[Image Source: Pixabay]

Cancer is a mutation of a cell or cells that cause exponential and uncontrolled growth.  Humans actually have higher cancer rates compared to other animals, and scientists really aren’t sure why. Theoretically speaking, given that cancer is understood as a purely probabilistic risk based on the number of cells in a human’s body, animals with more cells should see higher cancer rates. Most animals get cancer, but there seems to be no correlation between cancer rates and the number of cells in an organism. This problem is known as Peto’s paradox. The theory suggests that blue whales should see higher cancer rates based on the fact that they have more cells than any other mammal. Here’s the thing, though predictive models suggest that all blue whales over the age of 80 should have cancer, but that isn’t the case. This has lead scientists to one of two conclusions: either cancer isn’t based on cells and is not purely a probabilistic problem, or whales have an unknown method of fighting off cancer. Neither conclusion has been proven, but either one would present diverging facts from current hypotheses.

How Long Coastlines Are

The measurement of coastlines actually breaks down into a problem of fractals. Every number associated with the length of a coastline is actually just an estimate. This is due to the fact that the length of a coastline actually depends on the length of the measuring stick you use. This problem is called the coastline paradox. Because of this fractal problem, scientists don’t know how long any coastline is, and they could be infinite. If you don’t believe us, check out the video below.

How Bicycles Work

Perhaps the most mind-boggling thing that scientists still don’t understand is just how bicycles work. If you thought that it was because of the gyroscopic motion of the wheels, that theory was disproven in the 1970s. Scientists really aren’t sure why bicycles are able to be so stable when ridden. Ever since the gyroscopic theory was disproven, scientists shifted their thinking to something called the caster effect. They thought that the stability of a bicycle came from the angle at which the front wheel made contact with the ground relative to the frame. However, that theory was proven false in 2011 by researchers at Cornell. The mechanics behind the machine of bicycles can be understood rather simply, whether it be gear ratios or friction. However, when it comes down to the actual mechanism that makes bikes stable, scientists aren’t really sure.

[Image Source: Pixabay]

Dark Matter and Dark Energy

All of the matter that we consider normal, i.e. planets, stars, etc., only account for 4.9 percent of the total matter and energy observed in the universe. 26.8 percent of matter and energy is considered dark. Scientists reached this conclusion due to the fact that on a universal scale, matter is moving faster than it should throughout our universe. We understand that dark matter and dark energy must exist given what we observe in the universe, but scientists aren’t sure what these particles actually are. There is extensive research going into expanding the search for dark matter particles since they make up most of the mass of the universe.

Dark energy presents another problem. The universe is expanding at an accelerated rate. The universe has always been expanding since the beginning, but only until 5 or so billion years ago, that rate was in decline. Now, the universe is accelerating outwards, and scientists aren’t sure where this energy is coming from. There are plenty of models and theories about this, but none conclusive.

How Gravity Works

[Image Source: Pixabay]

Gravity exists, we understand it pretty well. Newton did a great job discovering the force and explaining its principles. However, of the four forces holding the universe together – strong, weak, electromagnetic, and gravity – scientists aren’t really sure how gravity is such a weak force but also so strong. Gravity never disappears throughout the universe, yet it is the weakest of all of the four forces. Each of the four main forces in the universe have their own respective particles that ultimately control each one, except for gravity. Hypothetically speaking, there exists a particle called the graviton, but scientists haven’t found it yet. The other breakdown in our understanding of gravity is that it doesn’t work on a quantum or atomic scale. This is one of the biggest reasons why quantum research and physical research can rarely ever collude.

Gravity can be modeled, the force can be calculated, but since we haven’t found a graviton particle yet, we don’t really fully understand it. If researchers conclude that there doesn’t exist a particle associated with gravity, then much of the science around forces breaks down. Some researchers believe they have found a graviton, but nothing is universally agreed upon yet.

SEE ALSO: NASA Reveals Their Discovery of Seven Exoplanets Around Dwarf Star


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