Things we don’t understand

Droplet Question Mark

What do we really understand?

I often reflect on awesome nature of Science, and I thought it might be induce appropriate humility I kept a running list of ‘things that Science can’t explain‘. I think there are at least three categories of ‘not understanding’:

  • Category A: We are Boggled: We just don’t have a clue
  • Category B: We are Puzzled: We think we know all the factors involved, but we don’t how the things go together
  • Category C: We are Frustrated: We think we know all the factors involved, but we the calculations are too hard.

So here’s my list. If you have any things to add or useful links, do drop me a line.

Things we don’t understand

  1. Raindrops: Category B: Puzzled:We don’t understand how rain drops form in a cloud (link). We really ought to be able to understand such ‘simple’ universal phenomenon. But we don’t.
  2. Life on Earth: Category A: Boggled: We don’t understand how life came to be. How did matter become ‘biological’ instead of chemical. Although people have ideas about how this might have happened, they all involve a ‘then something happened’ step.
  3. Dark Matter: Category A: Boggled: We don’t understand what ‘dark matter’ is. Our observations of the orbits of stars in galaxies indicate that there appears to be more gravity than we can see. However, we don’t have a clue what form that might take.
  4. High Temperature Superconductors: Category B/C: Puzzled/Frustrated: We don’t know how high-temperature superconductors work! We understand low tempertaure superconductors, but there is no general theory of the high temperature variety. If there was, might guide us to discovering new types.
  5. Non-coding DNA: Category A: Boggled: We know that 98% of our DNA does not make proteins in our body. But we don’t know what it does do.

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