EdgyLabs has made an inventory of some of the most important unanswered questions in physics.
As physicist Brian Cox said:
“I’m comfortable with the unknown – that’s the point of science… I don’t need answers to everything. I want to have answers to find.”
With all of the discoveries and all the progress that has been made and advanced scientific tools at their disposal, physicists have yet to find answers to many of the most prominent questions that pertain to our physical universe.
We looked at 18 of the most compelling enigmas to see more precisely what we know and do not know about our universe. Far from being exhaustive, this list is a representative sample of the major issues facing physics today–and we’d love your input to help round out this list.10 puzzles in physics still unanswered.Click To Tweet
Among these questions, which may sound esoteric, there may be those that we will never be able to resolve.
But we’ll let you make that distinction.
With any further ado, here are 10 unanswered physics questions we still need help figuring out.
1. Why There’s Less Antimatter Than Matter?
To each type of particle there’s a twin antiparticle with identical properties, but opposite charge. If a particle meets its antiparticle, the two immediately annihilate one another.
If antimatter and matter have the same properties, why doesn’t the universe contain equal amounts of the two?
Of course, if that was the case, it’s possible that we wouldn’t be here to ask about it!
2. What is Dark Matter?
Cosmologists think that only about 5% of the universe is visible, made up of ordinary matter that forms billions of galaxies, stars, and planets, including us and everything else.
So what exactly is this “dark matter” that emits no light and makes up roughly 25% of the universe?
3. What is Dark Energy?
The largest majority of the universe’s content (70%) is in the form of an unknown energy that has earned the name of “dark energy”.
What is this mysterious, gravity-repellent, dark energy that may suggest new physical laws beyond the standard model?
4. Is There a Multiverse?
Some astrophysicists think that the visible universe is but one among an infinite number of universes.
And, according to quantum physics, there’s only a finite number of possible particle arrangements, which are forced to repeat themselves in the multiverse over and over again.
That means that there are parallel universes that are exact copies of our realm (including you!), another that differs with only one particle configuration, or two… infinitely!
But we have yet to detect the presence of our parallel selves.
5. What Will be the Universe’s Grand Finale?
If the widely-accepted theory of the beginning of the universe (Big Bang) is yet to be proven, the ultimate fate of the universe may be a tougher nut to crack.
There are scenarios aplenty: try the Big Crunch, Big Freeze, Big Rip–many theories with the word “big” in them try to predict what destiny awaits our universe, with no definitive answer.
But hey, as far as us mortals are concerned, the human civilization (and any intelligent alien life!) will probably be long gone before the end of time.
But time doesn’t end, does it?
6. Why Time Appears to be Linear?
Time, as defined by Newton, remains a constant in physics. Newtonian mechanics organizes sequences of moments or events in chronological order.
But mounting scientific evidence suggests that time is cyclic and non-linear; in theory, it can be slowed down, stopped or reversed.
Why does time give the illusion of flowing as a linear and irreversible arrow?
7. How Consciousness Affects Reality?
If you want to put a quantum physicist or a philosopher of science on the spot, just bring up “The Measurement Problem”.
Simply put, a particle only takes a particular position if there’s an observer measuring it; that’s the ‘Measurement’ or ‘Observation’ Problem.
That means that a particle is all over the place until one decides to observe it in their own space-time. In other words, the very act of observation affects or creates, reality.
But how could a particle decide its position and momentum? Does this mean that objects, time, and locality are mere tools of our consciousness, projected out as “reality”?
8. Does the String Theory Hold up?
An active area of research, String Theory is touted as “the theory of everything”, one that can reconcile Relativity with Quantum physics and describe the universe as a whole.
Michio Kaku explains it in this video.
For the equations of String Theory to work, they require 10 to 11 dimensions, and the vibrating “strings” it describes are so small (a billionth of a trillionth the size of an atomic nucleus).
That makes this theory very difficult to verify or debunk.
9. Is it an Orderly Chaos or a Chaotic Order?
What is the nature of chaos in the universe? For example, with all the math knowledge, data, and processing power we have, we still can’t accurately predict the weather.
Perhaps under the apparent disorder hides a very strict order, a chaotic system that obeys the physical principles but nonetheless unpredictable over the long term.
Perhaps we just don’t have the right math.
10. Is There a Super-Force Behind the 4 Fundamental Forces?
There are four fundamental forces that govern the universe: gravity, electromagnetism, strong nuclear, and weak nuclear.
Maybe these universal forces operate in a similar way to Marvel’s Infinity Stones: each stone has its own purpose but their six powers can be harvested collectively using the Infinity Gauntlet.
Physicist think that the 4 forces would’ve resulted from a single and even more fundamental force and, because of that, may unite into one super-force.
They also postulate that they could unify at least three of them (except gravity) using a particle accelerator, but all the available energy in the world wouldn’t be enough.