Science Still Hasn’t Solved These Mysteries…

The science community has granted us a wealth
of knowledge that can never be overstated. Things that used to mystify our ancestors
can now be understood and more appreciated. It’s shaped our view of the world, the universe,
the animal kingdom, human psychology — literally everything you know has been helped along
by science and the men and women who dedicate their lives to finding out the whos, whats,
whens, whys, and hows of stuff. We owe them a tremendous debt of gratitude. But with science having that intrinsic aspect
of being ever-evolving, it’s never foolproof or absolute. Built right into the scientific method are
allowances for screw-ups or just plain not knowing something. And you might be surprised that some very
basic parts of life here on our planet totally baffle some of our best and brightest smarties. Here are some examples of mysteries that science
has yet to crack. 10. Why do we sleep? Now here is one you think we’d have nailed
down by now. Almost every single person in the world sleeps
daily (unless you’re a Rolling Stones guitarist). And the answer probably seems obvious to most
of us: we sleep to rest our bodies after the day. We can hold off on food, water, even sex for
days on end, but when it’s sleepytime, nature takes over and our bodies ask for the check. Except it’s not as simple as just needing
rest. Science has educated guesses which include
all sorts of reasons for sleep, like making time for our brains to get things in order
after a long day, to reinforce memories, or to replenish fuel lost while awake. But then you throw in examples of plants and
other organisms that don’t have any brains at all like we do, yet still have “sleep”
patterns similar to ours, and people who have gene mutations which let them function without
much sleep at all, and we begin to see our very limited understanding of why we sleep. 9. How does gravity work? Gravity, as we learn in school, is very simple…
right? There are forces within our planet that pull
things toward the center. So if you throw something in the air, it comes
back down. Gravity keeps you on the ground. It’s also what keeps the planets orbiting
around the sun. This is all very simple, and we’ve known
it since we were able to learn information. So why does science have so much difficulty
explaining it? Basically, gravity is one of four forces in
our universe, which also include electromagnetism, strong nuclear, and weak nuclear. Gravity is the weakest of the four, and while
we seem to grasp the concept of gravity with earthly examples, when things get too small
or too big, like black holes and atoms, that’s when science and Newton’s principles don’t
really make sense. And a simple science experiment you’ve seen
before, where a balloon rubbed on your shirt creates enough electromagnetism to negate
gravity and lift your hair or a piece of paper, shows just how easily gravity can sometimes,
well, disappear. 8. Why are most people right handed? People seem to take notice when someone uses
their left hand for something, as if it’s some kind of freak mutation that’s just
manifested itself. And while it’s rare for someone to be a
natural southpaw (about 10 percent of the world’s population), it’s not quite the
same as running across someone who, say, has horns growing out of their head. So why do people deviate from the norm, in
terms of handedness? Is it a genetic mutation? The environment they’re brought up in? Is it hereditary? Science doesn’t really know, and it doesn’t
even really have an empirically-established way to measure handedness. Science does lean toward genetics, but there
are even problems with that, as some teachers in school force children to become right handed
when learning to write, and there is some data as to cultural and societal factors influencing
which hand becomes dominant. Weirdly enough, we’ve learned why people
become right-handed, but not why right is the “right” way. If that makes sense. 7. Why does anesthesia work? It’s the divine gas that makes people not
have to be acutely aware of their leg being amputated, among other things. The introduction of anesthesia granted patients
the ability to snooze through all sorts of medical procedures, and it’s been a godsend
since the mid-1800s — not only for the patients, but for doctors who had to deal with squirrely,
wide-awake amputee victims. What started as an inhaled ether on its inception
has become a more refined chemical blend that renders the recipient unconscious. But we don’t really know how it does that. Think about it. When you’re asleep, you’re unconscious,
right? But you would sure feel a scalpel opening
you up, wouldn’t you? So why is the anesthesia unconsciousness different? And it’s an even bigger mystery as to how
the diverse chemicals in the anesthetic, ranging from steroids to inert gases, can work together
to achieve such a deep unconscious level that takes you about as close to death’s door
as is possible. It seems that under anesthesia, different
parts of the brain are affected much like a coma patient’s brain would be. All in all, it’s a wonderful tool in medicine
and we don’t really know why. 6. Why do cats purr? “Awwww, it’s because he/she LOVES ME!,”
you likely think to yourself, ignoring the fact that if that cat was a little bigger,
it would probably try to rip your face off. But it’s not a stupid assumption — most
people probably associate the low rumbly purr of the kitty-cat to a feeling of happiness
or contentedness. Science as a whole shrugs and meekly mumbles,
“I dunno.” See, cats also have a tendency to purr when
they’re scared or hungry. Purring probably isn’t a form of communication,
as it’s too low and local to be really effective. Also, in the realm of just pure weirdness,
science has discovered that purring has been linked to bone regeneration. So there are many theories we have for why
kittens just sit there and gently hum their bodies, but most likely it’s just a way
for them to soothe themselves. Kind of like how we laugh for several different
reasons. 5. Why was there a mysterious hum in New Mexico? New Mexico has had a weird history of everything
from nuclear bomb testings to Walter White standing on a dirt road in his tighty-whities. But the residents of the northern town of
Taos have their own strange tale to tell, and it’s in reference to a local phenomenon
called the “Taos Hum.” Since the early ’90s, people in the town
have described some kind of tangible audio event. Some call it a whirring kind of noise, or
a buzz, or a humming in the air around Taos. A professor of engineering at the University
of New Mexico studied the sounds around Taos, and noticed that around 2 percent of the population
was susceptible to the strange hum. That doesn’t mean that they picked up any
unusual sounds while conducting their research. Quite the opposite. Their very sensitive audio recording equipment
and vibration sensors picked up nothing out of the ordinary. The fact that the townsfolk heard differing
kinds of sounds is also of less scientific value than if they had all heard one low,
persistent hum. And that’s why science is more keen to dismiss
the Taos Hum as being part of the onslaught of background noise humans live in these days,
mixed with subjective hearing experiences from the people themselves. The residents of Taos, however, stand firm
in their belief of a weirder explanation. It is New Mexico, after all. 4. The ancient Baghdad batteries Now, hear us out here. What if we told you that researchers working
in Iraq in the 1930s found what totally appeared to be some kind of crude battery that may
have been used to produce electrical charges, and that it likely dated from around 200 BC? Of course, that would predate that kind of
technology by a couple thousand years. What archaeologists originally thought were
some kind of clay storage pots turned out upon closer inspection to contain copper rods
within them. This led the scientists to strongly believe
the pots would have held some kind of substance that would react to the copper rods and produce
electricity. But why? Theories range from using the charge to shock
people as punishment (those were stricter days), to using that electricity to electroplate
things with gold. Another school of thought is that they found
a way to make electricity long before knowing what the heck it was good for, kind of like
the Chinese with gunpowder. Our turbulent history with Iraq doesn’t
help us figure much of anything out, either. 3. Why does the placebo effect work? You’ve all heard the basics of the placebo
effect: it’s a treatment that isn’t “real,” but the very act of a patient believing in
its effectiveness creates its own beneficial properties. If you expect a pill or drug to do something,
it’s likely to work in some way. It seems mean, but science uses placebos especially
when testing a new medication’s effectiveness. Which, maddeningly, is skewed because sometimes
these placebos work. But why? Beats us! The point of a placebo is you don’t know
you’re taking it. But that opens up a whole host of problems
because placebos can often work even when you know you’re taking one. That clearly goes against its entire purpose. In 2009, researchers testing treatments for
irritable bowel syndrome found many subjects who knowingly took placebos got better at
higher rates than those who received no treatment at all. That’s absolutely insane. And it seems that a person’s personality
is tied to whether the placebo effect will work or not. But that’s just a guess so far. If that’s not enough stuff that science
doesn’t get, there’s also potentially an inverse nocebo effect, where if you don’t
believe a treatment will work, your symptoms will get worse. Our brains are weird, man. 2. Why are we getting repeating radio bursts
from space? Cue the History Channel “alien guy,” because
this is clearly some extraterrestrial stuff, right? Slow down there, Captain SETI. Let’s lay out the basics first. A fast repeating signal burst from space,
called FRB 121102, was first discovered in 2012. While we’ve come across some of these before,
this one has repeated itself, though sporadically. The bursts usually last about a millisecond,
and we don’t yet know where they originate from. We know it’s from a galaxy 3 billion light-years
away that was recently discovered, but that’s about all. The radio bursts, though short, are massive,
containing as much energy as the sun produces in a day. The fact that it’s persistent and repeating
makes scientists think the location could be near a black hole or a nebula. And the source itself has earned science’s
best guess of a pulsar or neutron star. But that doesn’t mean the fantastical minds
of scientists are ruling out extraterrestrial origins. What fun would it be to ruin those hopes? 1. How bicycles really work What?? If science is really going to tell us they
can’t figure out how a two-wheeled vehicle works, are we supposed to trust them about
anything? And yet, the humble bicycle contains so much
scientific mystery within. Much of the mystery concerns the bicycle without
a rider perched on it. If a bike is going fast enough, it’s going
to want to balance itself so it doesn’t fall over. It even does with when someone is riding it,
to a degree. That self-stability and why it occurs has
eluded scientists since the 19th century. The commonly-held idea that the gyroscopic
effect of the rotating front wheel keeps the bike stable has fallen apart under recent
analysis. An alternate theory likens the wheel on a
bicycle to the wheels on a shopping cart, in that they align themselves automatically
in the direction being traveled. That also fell apart. It seems science does have a point where they
just give up and break for lunch.

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