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Top Mysteries in Physics

  1. Mar 4, 2008 #1
    So I somehow got linked to the following web page (http://www.livescience.com/strangenews/top10_unexplained_phenomena.html) which I thought was going to give a list of the top ten legitimate scientific mysteries of our time. Instead I got a list of idiotic things like UFOs and ESP. *Sigh*.

    Anyway, it got me thinking that it would be interesting to quantify the true scientific mysteries of our time. After all, it was the relatively obscure problem of the black body spectrum 100 years ago that opened up the door to the gigantic mess we have now. :) So what's left to be resolved?

    My list:

    6) Existence of the tachyon
    5) Behavior of identical particles
    4) Renormalizaiton in QFT
    3) Existence of the Higgs Boson
    2) Violation of Bell's Inequalities
    1) Quantum Gravity

    Are the others that are even more obscure or more mysterious?
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 4, 2008 #2


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    You missed one of the most obvious problems that may have wide-ranging ramifications - high-Tc superconductors.

  4. Mar 4, 2008 #3


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    Dark matter and dark energy.
  5. Mar 5, 2008 #4

    Andy Resnick

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    Here's mine:

    1) Origin of the glass transition
    2) Difference between living and non-living matter
    3) Reconciliation of fluid dynamics at the fluid-solid interface (wetting)
  6. Mar 5, 2008 #5
    I never liked biology so I'm just ignorant here. What's the mystery?
  7. Mar 5, 2008 #6
    Quantum theory of relativistic particles, in some other context than in calculating cross sections for particle collisions.

    Many would say that this is not a today's problem anymore, but IMO this is the topic that is most badly struck by emperor's new clothes effect in theoretical physics.
  8. Mar 5, 2008 #7
    Oh yes, I almost forgot! Among the most mysterious physics things: The wave function collapse and the quantum mechanical measurement.

    hmhm... or was this included in the Bell inequalities?
    Last edited: Mar 5, 2008
  9. Mar 5, 2008 #8


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    1. Quantum gravity
    2. Dark energy
    3. Dark matter
    4. Homogeneous, isotropic and flat Universe
    5. Hierarchy problem
    6. Size of Noah's ark

    2 and 4 possibly interrelated, as could 3 and 5 be. (1 and 6 probably not.)
  10. Mar 5, 2008 #9


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    Except that it refers to other Lost Ark (and then, see Kosmas Indicopleustes) I think that El.6 was mostly solved by Linneus. It is amazing that two different posters have included questions of biology. Even if it is a joke, it hints some cultural thing going on.
  11. Mar 5, 2008 #10


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    Great, then I don't have to worry about that.
  12. Mar 5, 2008 #11

    Andy Resnick

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    I'm not sure 'mystery' is the right word. The fact is, we don't know what the difference is. One could argue about whether that's important or not- I claim it's a central problem in science. Certainly the origin of life is interesting.

    For all the talk about nanotechnology, think about how easy it would be to solve many problems using artificial viruses, bacteria, etc: toxic waste cleanup would be an obvious application. Or new ways to fight infectious diseases. But we don't even currently possess a quantitative definition of 'life'.
  13. Mar 5, 2008 #12
    What came before the singularity?
    Are we just the n-th cycle in an infinite oscillatory cycle?
    Just how many dimensions are there? (what are we up to, 11 now?)

    I want to see the "equation of everything"
  14. Mar 5, 2008 #13
    What I was getting at was more along the lines of physically observed phenomina that can't be explained in any current model (like the Bell experiments), or predicted phenomina that haven't been observed yet (like Higgs). Things that, like the black body problem, might open the door to a revolution.

    Of course there are other mysteries, like what came before the Big Bang, but they don't seem very likely to lead to new science any time soon. :)
  15. Mar 5, 2008 #14
    How about string theory/ M theroy/ Super Gravity Theory and the eleven dimensions. Also that Stephen Hawking claimed that energy is not conserved. When energy enters a black whole it simply disappears.
  16. Mar 6, 2008 #15
    Even without radiation, the energy is not "lost". If you have a room full of ping pong balls, pick up 10 and put them inside a box and seal it, the room still weighs the same.

  17. Mar 6, 2008 #16

    He later said that the information is not lost. Another guy (whose name I CANNOT remember) said the information is flattened into 2 dimensions and we just cant see it.
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