6/26/2015

50+ Unanswered Questions in Science


 
Recently read an article purporting to present the 20 Most Significant Unanswered Questions in Science.  So of course I immediately started thinking about all the questions that didn't make the list.  Obviously, every tiny science specialty is going to have its own list of unanswered questions, most of them so content-specific and obtuse that civilians haven't a hope of understanding them.  Even so, a quick bit of brainstorming is all it takes to realize just how much we don't know about even the big things; throw in a quick survey of other articles on the internet, and you get the following list.  What major unanswered questions have I left out? Let me know!  
  1. Unanswered questions about biology/neurology
    1. What is the biological basis of consciousness?
    2. Just how far can we prolong life?
    3. Can cryogenics work?
    4. Are GMO foods safe?
    5. To what extent will we be able to use technology to enhance human functioning?
    6. Can we regenerate body parts?
    7. Why do we dream? What happens when we dream?
    8. How do we store/retrieve memories?
    9. What is "junk DNA"? What does it do?
    10. How did life on earth begin?
    11. Can we eliminate pain? should we?
    12. What caused the Cambrian explosion?
    13. What is intelligence? Just how plastic is the brain? How "fixed" is IQ?
    14. What are the neural causes of mental illness?
    15. What is the evolutionary explanation for homosexuality?
    16. Can we cure cancer?
    17. What organisms remain undiscovered on earth?
  2. Unanswered questions about our earth
    1. How bad will climate change get?
    2. What's going on inside the earth?
    3. What drives plate tectonics?
    4. What causes our magnetic poles to wander (and occasionally reverse)?
    5. Can we control the weather? Should we?
  3. unanswered questions questions about the universe/physics?
    1. How did the universe begin?
    2. Will the universe end?
    3. Is the universe finite or infinite? If finite, how big is it, and what lies beyond?
    4. What is the shape of the universe?
    5. What is dark matter? dark energy?
    6. Is there a universal theory of everything?
    7. Is time travel possible?
    8. Are we alone in the universe?
    9. Will we ever colonise space?
    10. Why hasn't all matter been destroyed by antimatter?
    11. Are there forces that move faster than light?
    12. What are black holes?
    13. Are there additional dimensions? How many?
    14. What does our discovery of the Higgs-Boson portend?
    15. Where do astrophysical neutrinos come from?
  4. Unanswered questions about chemistry?
    1. what's the relationship between weak force and strong force?
    2. How many elements exist? Are elements higher than 137 possible?
    3. Can we make an efficient biofuel?
    4. How do we effectively tap the sun's energy?
    5. Is cold fusion possible?
    6. Are there as-yet undiscovered states of matter?
  5. Unanswered questions about math
    1. Why are prime numbers so weird?
    2. Will all the Millennium Prize Problems ever be solved?
    3. Can everything be explained by math? 
  6. Unanswered questions about technology
    1. Just how smart can computers get?
    2. Can we create sentient technology? Will machines ever become conscious?
  7.  Unanswered questions about metaphysics
    1. Are ghosts real?
    2. Do humans have souls?
    3. Is there such a thing as free will?
    4. Does ESP exist?
    5. Does any rule exist that doesn't have at least one exception?

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