Physics has come a long way. I am certain we can all agree. Discoveries such as gravity and the composition of stars prove that physicists are doing a good job in understanding the world around us in its natural form. However there are some questions that to this day have no answer.
1. What is matter actually made from?
Those of you who have taken high school physics or chemistry will mostly be aware that matter is made of atoms, which are made of neutrons, protons and electrons, which are in turn made of quarks. However, is there a more fundamental material that makes up quarks? We don’t know.
Physicist Dr. Don Lincoln has stated that the standard model, which does a good job in explaining how quarks and leptons make up matter, however there are still certain things it doesn’t explain.
One of the key concepts it doesn’t explain is the mass of the higgs boson, which actually turned out to be a lot more massive than predicted. Furthermore we have no idea why the fact that protons have a positive charge and electrons have a negative charge cancel out to make atoms electrically neutral.
2. What came before the big bang?
I am certain we have all wondered this question before. Every time a cosmologist discusses the bing bang it is inevitable for someone to ask “But what existed before?”.
The idea is this: If time itself began with the Big Bang, then it makes no sense to ask what came before. Scientists say that there was no “before” the big bang, which leaves those asking disappointed.
We now have a model for what happened very shortly after the Big Bang. During the first tiny fraction of a second of the universe’s existence, The inflation model says that the universe expanded like a balloon, doubling in size again and again before slowing down to its “normal” rate of expansion. But if we try to look back before inflation — all the way back to “time zero”, general relativity breaks down.
Some physicists now think that time didn’t begin with the Big Bang, but somehow emerged when the universe reached a certain level of complexity. Others theorise that the universe runs in cycles, in a possibly endless series of expansions and contractions. If this “cyclic” model is right, the Big Bang wasn’t the beginning, but just a transition from an earlier era. Another possibility is that our universe is just one of countless “bubble universes” that pop up repeatedly in a “multiverse.”
3. How does a bicycle stay upright?
Although this may seem like a simple and basic concept, we don’t actually fully understand how a bike works the way it does. We thought we knew the maths behind cycling. We were wrong – and our efforts to figure it out are leading to some weird and wonderful new bike designs.
Well, sort of. “What we don’t know are the simple, necessary or sufficient conditions for a bicycle to be self-stable,” says Andy Ruinia, an engineer at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York.
4. How do we move forward in time?
There is a reason we say time goes by: it seems to flow. No matter how still we stand in space, we move inexorably through time, dragged as if in a current. As we do, events steadily pass from the future, via the present, to the past.
Isaac Newton saw this as a fundamental truth. “All motions may be accelerated and retarded, but the flowing of absolute time is not liable to any change,” he wrote.
For time to flow, it must do so at some speed. But speed is measured as a change over time. So how fast does time flow? George Ellis, a cosmologist from the University of Cape Town, South Africa, has an answer: “One second per second.” Price says that’s meaningless. Even if time were standing still, it could be said that for every second that passes, one second passes. Indeed, if that’s a measure of flow, we could say that space flows: it passes at one metre per metre. Therefore what do we conclude? Time is really confusing, and we don’t really get it.
5. Is there a god?
The age old question. Is there a god?
Everyone is welcome to have any beliefs and follow any religions they want, however there is no proof to show that there ever was a god of any religion ever. However, without the conclusion that there is a god, so many more questions about our natural universe remain unanswered, such as, How did we get here in the first place? How did the universe begin? What was there before the beginning? The list goes on, and it leaves world-class expert physicists bamboozled.