Here, we look at five of the biggest unanswered questions in science. There is no reason to think that we won’t get the answers to these questions eventually, but right now these are the issues on the cutting edge of science.
What are the boundaries of the Universe?No, a flat universe does not imply an infinite universe. I don't see how anything would prove an infinite universe, and I am not sure it makes any sense to talk about an infinite universe.
The universe is expanding, which we’ve known for a while. But where is, or what is, the boundary? ...
Thanks to cosmic background radiation and the path it takes, scientists currently believe the universe is flat — and therefore infinite. However, if there is even a slight curve to the universe, one smaller than the margin of error in their observations, then the universe would be a sphere. Similarly, we can’t see anything past the observable universe, so we can rely only on our math to say if the universe is likely to be finite or infinite. The final answer on the exact size of the cosmos may never be knowable.
What is consciousness?It is not clear that consciousness has a scientific definition. If it did, then we could ask whether computers are conscious or will ever be conscious. It seems to me that some day computers will be able to give an appearance of consciousness, but it is not clear that we will ever have a way of saying whether or not they are really conscious.
While the question of what consciousness is exactly belongs to philosophy, the question of how it works is a problem for science.
What is dark energy?It is possible that we already know all we will ever know about dark energy. Quantum mechanics teaches that systems always have a zero point energy. Maybe the dark energy is just the zero point energy of the universe.
The universe is expanding, and that’s getting faster all the time. We say that the cause of the acceleration is “Dark Energy”, but what is it? Right now, we don’t really have any idea.
What happened Before the Big Bang?Again, why is this even a scientific question? Maybe we will have theories for what happened before the big bang, and some ppl already have such theories, but there is no way of testing them. It is like theorizing about alternate universes.
The Big Bang is often thought of as an explosion which caused the beginning of our universe. However, it is better understood as the point where space began to expand and the current laws of physics begin. There was no explosion. Working backwards from now, we can show that all the matter in the universe was in one place at the same time. At that moment, the universe began to expand and the laws of nature, as we understand them, begin to take shape. But what happened before that?
Is there a limit to computing power?This is the closest to a scientific question. There are some theoretical limits to computing power, and there are likely to be some practical limits also.
Right now, many people subscribe to Moore’s law, the notion that there is a constant rate to how cheap and how powerful computer chips become over time. But what happens when you can’t fit anymore elements onto a chip? Moore himself suggested that his law will end in 2025 when transistors can’t be made any smaller, saying that we will be forced to build larger machines to get more computing power after that. Others look to new processing techniques and exotic materials to make them with to continue to the growth in power.
Peter Woit informs us:
The traditional number of 10500 string theory vacua has now been replaced by 10272,000 (and I think this is per geometry. With 10755 geometries the number should be 10272,755). It’s also the case that “big data” is now about the trendiest topic around, and surely there are lots of new calculational techniques available.This sounds like a joke, but is not.