Is There Anything Known To Be Real That Science Cannot Explain...At All?

Cracked has several “science can’t explain” lists, plus a couple other recent ones that are named differently but are related and probably many more from the past. I wouldn’t trust everything on the lists of course, they’re not a science site, but I always enjoy those lists and often end up searching for more info and find them fairly accurate.

I am literally angry at myself for not thinking of this first.

That was what I came in to say. Probably the best combination of “important” and “poorly understood”.

Originally Posted by Max Torque View Post
F***in’ magnets, how do they work!
Somehow, some way, I just KNEW when I started this thread that this reply would be generated. Awesome!

ETA: although science cannot explain how I knew.

I’m assuming there’s a pop-culture reference I’m not getting here. So where’s this from?

A very silly band called “Insane Clown Posse” used that lyric in a song of theirs.

True, but don’t quantum field theories give more accurate predictions than General Relativity?

For everyone else: We have two theories right now. They are quantum field theories (QFT), which explain everything (that we can explain) about things from atomic nuclei up in scale to light and chemical bonds between atoms, and General Relativity, which explains why you don’t go sailing off the Earth and how galaxies fit together. (Well, to a point.)

QFT unifies Special Relativity (no privileged inertial reference frame, constant speed of light for all observers) and Quantum Mechanics (mass-energy only occurs in discrete units) and is, fundamentally, about particles and interactions between them; GR is all about gravity and is fundamentally based on how mass deforms space-time in a geometric sense.

Both of them are very, very successful at predicting how things happen in reality (In particular, Quantum Electrodynamics, a specific QFT, is good out to ten or so decimal places in some predictions.) but we can’t see how they fit together.


How does a certain arrangement of common atoms in complex molecules have the capability for metabolism, respiration, procreation and self-awareness?

Wikiing up a number of those Cracked “mysteries” shows they are not all that mysterious, and in fact most have quite plausible explanations.

Apart from the self-awareness bit (which is the same as the consciousness problem, mentioned earlier), we have broad understanding of all of this (i.e., the molecular basis of metabolism, respiration and reproduction), and a very detailed (and still rapidly growing) understanding of much of it. It is what the very successful sciences of biochemistry, molecular biology and physiology are all about.


Perplexing choices.

Hear, hear. To my mind this is the greatest scientific achievment of the last 50 years. There are many more things to learn about life, but there is no longer any mystery about it. We are meat machines and we know a tremendous amount about the parts and how they operate. There is no “life force” as most people believed 100 years ago. We even understand in broad outline what was once the great mystery of embryogenesis, how a simple fertilized egg can possibly develop into something as complex as a human being or a maple tree.

The origin of life is still a mystery. We know that RNA preceded DNA. We can speculate about possibilities, but we simply don’t know how the RNA world came to be.

Gravity is a very serious subject and we don’t know why people are so solemn about it.

A genuine mystery: how “high temperature” (above liquid nitrogen temperature) superconductors work.

Something I’m wondering: how we know when people are staring at us.

We don’t, we only think we do due to confirmation bias.

Ok, we gotta have ‘Like’ icons on posters’ statements, like on Facebook. Way 2 go, SteveO :smiley:

  1. Seriously, some mysteries of the moon: there was a list in (fittingly) The Book of Lists. Some I remember are:

a) pinging - the moon pinged for several hours after the lunar modules landed on it. This would suggest the interior is hollow, like a basketball.
b) why the dust next to the rock samples brought back for carbon dating is younger than the rocks. Logic would dictate the dust would be the remains of older rocks that had since crumbled. Dating the rocks and dust showed the dust to be younger. If so, did it come from other younger rocks, but then how’d they get there put next to the older rocks? Something carry them? And how’d they get pulverized? If not an external force, why would the younger rocks crumble and the older ones you’d expect to be more brittle didn’t?
c) glassy surface - according to the astronauts that were there, a lot of the surface is very smooth & reflective, as if it’d been scorched. From what?
d) origin - where’d it come from? There are theories, but none proven yet.

  1. The magnetic disturbances in the Bermuda Triangle. We know that they’re there, and the probable explanation of why some of the planes & ships got lost. We don’t know what’s causing the magnetic anomaly. There’s no hole in the ozone over there, like at the South Pole. Maybe not coincidentally, the Triangle is directly opposite from the Marianas Trench, the deepest point on Earth (where James Cameron just went down in a sub).

  2. Why we have gallbladders. It’s sole function in life, to secrete bile, is handled just fine by the liver alone (which is why people who’ve had it removed live perfectly normal lives post-op). Appendixes have been found to have aided digestion back when we had a more grass & root based diet. But no such use yet for the organ that seems superfluous.

  3. Artifacts found in the jungles of South America from ruins of ancient civilizations - that look like helicopters (minus blades), delta-winged fighter planes, and I think armored vehicles.

  4. The Nazca lines - why were they drawn to be seen clearly from high up in the air?

  5. The booming noises going on in Wisconsin, and apparently other places in the US & around then world. These are going on in the absence of (detected) seismic activity.

  6. Who built the giant stone heads on Easter Island? And how’d they get moved to their locations?

  7. how lizards & salamanders can regrow limbs. This is being studied in the wake of our veterans returning from the MidEast, in the hope of duplicating the process.

  8. how dogs and cats can find their way back to their owners months or years after getting lost (usually on a family vacation). Not like they can read addresses or use GPS - do they have some kind of dynamic ‘breadcrumbing’ app in their brains that records when they leave the house?

  9. Why don’t sharks get cancer?

OK, define ‘proof’. If you want something on the level of absolute ontological certainty, you’re never going to get it. You can’t even get that out of something you observed firsthand, as you might have dreamed or hallucinated it. However, the theory that something the size of Mars struck a very young Earth and split it into the Earth-Moon system we know today is rather well-supported by the evidence. Probably better-supported than a lot of what you likely think we know about, say, Neanderthals.

Superfluous organs are explained, in general terms, by evolution quite well.

This sounds like simple bullshit.

The people who lived there at the time.

Hard work and simple machines, same as the Notre Dame Cathedral.

They do.

Wow, it’s like I suddenly flashed back to my youth and was reading a Ripley’s Believe it or Not book.

Re: the moon - at 1 time they were ‘sure’ it split off on its own from the bowl that became the Pacific Ocean. At another time, they were ‘sure’ it was a captured meteor. As of now, we still don’t know, but again it doesn’t mean we’ll *never *know.
Re: organs - no, they ain’t. As stated, the appendix at one time is known to have been needed for digesting a grass-heavy diet. We evolved, & don’t now need them. As far as gallbladders, I didn’t say we’ll never know, but evolution itself ain’t an explanation. The category is real things science can’t (presently) explain - ergo, presently why we have gallbladders is unknown. The spleen might be an example of evolution in progress. We can live without one, but it aids immunity and people who’ve had them removed have a harder time fighting infection. So, it may have been as necessary as a heart previously, and useless as a gallbladder in the future.
Re: Easter Island - there’s no proof of the natives having any tools that can move such heavy stone. There are many of them too, and the age of the stones is much older than Notre Dame - presumably meaning that by the time Notre Dame came along, we were far more advanced in machinery and technique.
Re: sharx - I’ll be damned! Totally suckered by the fact that I saw a report on 60 Minutes, not that long ago. I concede the point, I bit hook, line & sinker, & I was wrong.