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Feb 13,2015 by Edulab
The scientific field continues to make a number of ground-breaking discoveries and expand our understanding of the worlds around us. And it’s thanks to the scientific process that we have achieved some of the greatest feats known to man.
However, science is continually looking for answers and there are some mysteries out there that remain unsolved.
Here we take a look at some the greatest unsolved scientific mysteries, which continue to baffle, challenge, and most importantly inspire the scientific community
Plate tectonics is an important scientific theory which describes the motion of the Earth’s outer shell. According to this theory, Earth’s outer surface is divided into 8 main plates, which make up the top layer of Earth’s surface, known as the lithosphere.
These plates are believed to be in constant motion, moving at a rate of around a few centimetres per year. It’s this movement which is thought to have slowly separated the Earth’s continents and created oceans, over a period of millions of years.
However, the mystery of what kick-started the movement of Earth’s tectonic plates in the first place has puzzled scientists for generations.
Earth is the only planet in our solar system where plate tectonics are known to occur, and the existing geological evidence suggests that until around 3 billion years ago Earth’s crust was immobile.
Much of the evidence that could help solve this mystery has been destroyed. Consequently, the evidence for early plate tectonics remains controversial, and scientists continue to try to solve the puzzle of how the Earth’s continents formed.
There was once a time when the Earth was walked by a variety of large animal species, such as woolly mammoths, sabre toothed tigers and giant sloths. These are collectively known as megafauna and largely disappeared from our planet relatively recently, between 50,000 and 10,000 years ago.
Over the past 40 years, the cause of their disappearance has been hotly debated. To date, two main theories been proposed, namely climate change and over hunting by humans. However, surprisingly little evidence exists in support of either of these theories and the subject continues to be one of palaeontology’s most fascinating mysteries.
Of all the objects in the universe, the human brain is considered to be the most complex; in fact, there are as many neurons in the human brain as there are stars in the Milky Way. Hence, it’s rather unsurprising that despite decades of research, when it comes to the human brain, there’s much we have yet to understand.
The relationship between mind and brain, in particular, is something that has puzzled philosophers and scientists for generations.
The advent of brain-imaging technologies has helped us to make great leaps in bridging the mind-brain divide. But how conscious thought emerges from the biological substrate of the brain is one of the biggest questions we have yet to answer.
Why Does Hot Water Freeze Faster Than Cold?
It may seem rather counterintuitive, but under certain circumstances, warm water can in fact freeze faster than cold water. This phenomenon is known as the “Mpemba effect” and has been observed for thousands of years. Research into this enigma has so far yielded more questions than answers, and scientists are still to reach a definitive conclusion as why exactly it happens.
The Moon Illusion
You might have noticed that the moon typically look bigger on the horizon, than when viewed high overhead. This is known as the moon illusion and is rather baffling, given that the two images are in fact exactly the same size.
The question as to why we perceive them differently is still hotly debated by scientists. There are certainly a number of intriguing theories out there that purport to solve the mystery, such as atmospheric effects and relative size. However, science has yet to provide a definitive explanation for this interesting phenomenon.
Why do we Dream?
We humans spend approximately 1/3 of our lives asleep and in recent years there has been growing recognition of the vital role sleep has to play, in ensuring both our physical and psychological wellbeing.
When we sleep, we dream and it’s estimated that we spend at least two hours each night dreaming. Dreams have fascinated us for thousands of years; however it’s only in more recent years, that dreams have been the subject of widespread scientific research and attention.
Yet despite having been the subject of countless studies and scientific investigations, we still know very little about why, or indeed how, we dream.
To date a number of compelling theories have been proposed in answer to the question ‘why do we dream?’ For example, some scientists believe that dreaming probably has no function and is simply a by product of the mental activity that occurs during sleep; others believe that dreaming has a number of vital functions and helps us to solve problems, consolidate memories and deal with emotions.
A consensus on the subject remains elusive and this is likely to continue to be the focus of research for many years to come.
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