I heard a short radio interview that had Neil DeGrasse Tyson on it. The interviewer asked him something akin to what questions about physics he was most interested in. He said that the real question that kept him up are the questions we don’t even know to ask. He implied that someone in the 19th century wouldn’t even know to ask questions about concepts like nuclear physics, time dilation, quantum mechanics, string theory, etc since those fields hadn’t been discovered yet.
So yeah its probably a moot argument, but in theory what kinds of questions could come up based on cutting edge research or hypothesis going on right now if those hypothesis turn out to be experimentally validated? Basically, can we look at whats going on now and extrapolate what the big questions may be in 30-50 years? if so, what may some of them be?
The closest we’ll be able to come to answers for you are questions that we have that we’re still several major steps away from being able to nail down, like realistic fusion power, FTL travel, time travel, and why do cats purr?
It is barely more than eighty years since Edwin Hubble demonstrated that “spiral nebulae” were actually galaxies separate from the Milky Way. (The term “galaxy” is actually derived from the Greek term galaxias or “milky object”, so “Milky Way galaxy” is actually “Milky Way ‘Milky One’”.)
There is so many phenomena we have almost no real understanding of today, from black holes and quasars to “dark matter” and “dark energy” (terms that describe observed phenomena that we have no working theory to explain”) that it we did not come up with new questions for which phenomena we do not even suspect to exist would be an enormous disappointment. Astrophysics is literally everything outside of our solar system, and while there is plenty within those confines sufficient to employ scientists for centures without exhaustion, I doubt there is any end to what we can discover about the wider universe and the fundamental mechanics underpinning it.
Well, to give past examples, we didn’t know to ask “why is this star fluctuating” before we discovered that star was fluctuating. We didn’t know to ask how these stars formed so early before we knew that these stars formed so early. We didn’t know to ask what a pulsar is before we discovered pulsars. The questions that we don’t know to ask come from the mysteries that we don’t have yet.
There certainly can’t be a factual answer to the question, but we’re in IMHO, not GQ at least. We may need to get Rumsfeld in here to tell us about the different categories. I think we’re in the one called “unknown unknowns”.
Or we can try the Tao Te Ching: The unknown that can be named is not the unknown unknown.