Senate What are the greatest mysteries in science?

Discussion in 'Community' started by Ghost, May 8, 2009.

  1. Lowbacca_1977 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jun 28, 2006
    star 6
    Although, I'm not sure that removes the observability of it, although it does make the observability less accessible.

    I'd also say that its wrong to say that quarks are "only a model" as, while the eightfold way was certainly just a model at its inception, quarks themselves have a background of evidence that I'd think separates them from a model (which I'd associate more with the, imo, poorly named 'string theory')
  2. malkieD2 Ex-Manager and RSA

    Member Since:
    Jun 7, 2002
    star 7
    na, I'm sticking with my "only a model" as it's existance is still largely confirmed by complicated methodology designed to address it's inner workings. (a slight side point, but if you design an experiment to prove your hypothesis you run the risk of inadvertantly biasing your experiment to give you a predetermined answer)

    It's entirely possible that thinking in 100 years time actually alters our understanding of subatomic particles and invalidates the existing 'model'.

    Conversely the earth being round isn't a 'model'.

    I'm not trying to offend particle physcists, just giving my definition of what a 'model' is.
  3. Lowbacca_1977 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jun 28, 2006
    star 6
    Quarks would be a theory, backed up by evidence (evidence that came at a time when science wasn't sold on quarks, to the point that the science that discovered quarks was reluctant to call them that).

    Of course, all theories are open to change, and evidence isn't always airtight, as the Greeks felt they had evidence that the Sun was going around the earth but it was an incomplete picture as well.

    It sounds entirely like the "its only a theory" people that want to argue that creationism should be treated as an equal to science.
  4. Ghost Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Oct 13, 2003
    star 6
    Isn't everything basically a theory? Besides the fundamental laws of physics and the axioms of mathematics, that is. Even those may be subject to change.

    That's why I don't get the "evolution is only a theory" crowd. There is no way creationism is a scientific theory under any definition.
  5. Ghost Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Oct 13, 2003
    star 6
    This might finally help solve some of the greatest mysteries in science:


    'Very fast' pace excites Big Bang machine team
    Proton beam restart goes faster than expected, but 10 days of tests ahead


    Scientists moved Saturday to prepare the world's largest atom smasher for exploring the depths of matter after successfully restarting the $10 billion machine following more than a year of repairs.

    The nuclear physicists working on the Large Hadron Collider were surprised that they could so quickly get beams of protons whizzing near the speed of light during the restart late Friday, said James Gillies, spokesman for the European Organization for Nuclear Research.

    The machine was heavily damaged by a simple electrical fault in September last year.

    Some scientists had gone home early Friday and had to be called back as the project jumped ahead, Gillies said.

    At a meeting early Saturday "they basically had to tear up the first few pages of their PowerPoint presentation which had outlined the procedures that they were planning to follow," he said. "That was all wrapped up by midnight. They are going through the paces really very fast."

    The European Organization for Nuclear Research has taken the restart of the collider step by step to avoid further setbacks as it moves toward new scientific experiments ? probably starting in January ? regarding the makeup of matter and the universe.

    CERN, as it is known, had hoped by 7 a.m. Saturday to get the beams to travel the 17-mile circular tunnel under the Swiss-French border, but things went so well Friday evening that they had achieved the operation seven hours earlier.

    Praise from scientists around the world was quick. "First beam through the Atlas!" whooped an Internet message from Adam Yurkewicz, an American scientist working on the massive Atlas detector on the machine.

    "I congratulate the scientists and engineers that have worked to get the LHC back up and running," said Dennis Kovar of the U.S. Department of Energy, which participates in the project.

    He called the machine "unprecedented in size, in complexity, and in the scope of the international collaboration that has built it over the last 15 years."

    10 days of equipment tests
    Later Saturday the organizers decided to test all the protection equipment while there still is a very low intensity proton beam circulating in the collider at 11,000 times a second. The tests will take 10 days, Gillies said.

    The current beam has relatively few protons to avoid damage to the LHC should control of them be lost.

    Gillies said CERN decided against immediately testing the LHC's ability to speed up the beams to higher energy or to start with low-energy collisions that would help scientist calibrate their detection equipment.

    In the meantime CERN is using about 2,000 superconducting magnets ? some of them 50 feet long ? to improve control of the beams of billions of protons so they will remain tightly bunched and stay clear of sensitive equipment.

    Gillies said the scientists are being very conservative.

    "They're leaving a lot of time so that the guys who are operating the machine are under no pressure whatsoever to tick off the boxes and move forward," he said.

    Officials said Friday evening's progress was an important step on the road toward scientific discoveries at the LHC, which are expected in 2010.

    "We've still got some way to go before physics can begin, but with this milestone we're well on the way," CERN Director General Rolf Heuer said.

    Bad soldering caused damage
    With great fanfare, CERN circulated its first beams Sept. 10, 2008. But the machine was sidetracked nine days later when a badly soldered electrical splice overheated and set off a chain of damage to the magnets and other parts of the collider.

    Steve Myers, CERN's director for accelerators, said the improvements since then have made the LHC a far better understood machine than it was a year ago.

    The LHC is expec
  6. Darth_Yuthura Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 7, 2007
    star 4
    I would agree that life exists on planets other than Earth, but as for intelligent life? I really would not know if humans are unique in this case, or if we are nothing special. The truth is that we don't know much beyond our solar system.

    Intelligence: The ability to acquire knowledge and skills. That would not include creatures like clams and jellyfish. Swordtail fish do have intelligence to a very limited degree, even if their memory is less than fifteen minutes. Put a much larger fish in the tank and that goldfish would instinctively seek to escape being eaten.

    Edit: I said 'swordfish' when I meant 'swordtail fish' They are about the size of gold fish and have certain survival instincts that include living where larger fish can't chase them.
  7. CloneUncleOwen Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 30, 2009
    star 4
    The function and structure of memory has been a threshold science for some time, and a fascinating one at that.
    It would be remarkable if memory could be manipulated. Think of the accomplishments possible if a human mind could be
    structured so that no experience was ever degradated or lost.

    The relationship between memory and intellect is exact.
  8. SithLordDarthRichie London CR

    Chapter Rep
    Member Since:
    Oct 3, 2003
    star 8
    The main question I think The Hadron Collider was built to answer is what were the conditions of the Universe prior to the Big Bang?
    In other words, how did particles, gravity, time etc all behave at that stage?

    The same question is needed for Black Holes, as it is still not certain how the Sigularity can have infinite mass & gravity.

    Solving these questions might hopefully pave the way for a Quantum Gravity Theory of Everything.

    Plus Hawking will get a Nobel Prize, which he deserves.
  9. Lowbacca_1977 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jun 28, 2006
    star 6
    I'd say the biggest question really that the Large Hadron Collider is meant to answer is more tied into if it can verify the existence of the Higgs boson, something that quite possibly, no other collider on the planet can do (apparently Fermi Labs has one that MIGHT be on the threshold of doing it). Thus far, the Higgs boson is a necessary element in the models, but hasn't been verified, itself.

    The singularity doesn't have infinite mass. Or infinite gravity, really. It does have what is at least effectively infinite density.
    Though I'd agree (granted, I agree cuz Hawking said so) that if the LHC manages to cause a black hole to temporarily exist, Hawking will finally get a Nobel prize for his work on black holes and Hawking radiation.
  10. Lord Vivec Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Apr 17, 2006
    star 7
    Actually, it's meant to simulate conditions just after the big bang.

    But basically on the lines of what Lowbacca said. Scientists have calculated the range of masses (in electron Volts) that the Higgs should have, and in order to achieve the energies in collisions to get particles of that mass, you need a sufficiently powerful collider, in this case, the LHC.
  11. VadersLaMent Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Apr 3, 2002
    star 9
    [image=http://cache.gawker.com/assets/images/io9/2009/11/lhccrazytunnel.jpg]

    Obviously the LHC was made to search for blackholes.
  12. SithLordDarthRichie London CR

    Chapter Rep
    Member Since:
    Oct 3, 2003
    star 8
    Hardly :p

    It can make Black Holes, but it can't search for them. It has no equipment for looking into space.
  13. Black-Tiger Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 25, 2008
    star 3
    What are the greatest mysteries in science?

    Women's psychologies.
  14. ShaneP Ex-Mod Officio

    Member Since:
    Mar 26, 2001
    star 6
    Last night I was listening to Kaku's show Science Fantastic and he was talking about a Japanese researcher who photographed something dealing with a person's thoughts. I missed the whole story.
    Does anyone know what I'm referring to? Did a researcher capture some type of energy around a thought or something? :confused:
  15. Vaderize03 Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Oct 25, 1999
    star 5
    Defining consciousness is definitely up there.

    The newest research theories in quantum mechanics are turning the scientific community on it's head with the idea that nonlocality is probably true, and possibly for the macro world as well. If this turns out to be the case, it would support the idea that consciousness is required for the existence of the physical universe, and that the universe itself may be an illusion, with only consciousness being truly "real".

    Kind of mindbending, if you ask me, but as a physician, I can tell you that while most of my colleagues would say that consciousness exists solely in the brain, there is absolutely no definitive proof of such.

    Saying it another way, one can examine the wires of a portable radio, but that doesn't necessarily tell you anything about the battery which powers it. Is a brainwave a thought, or just a footprint of a thought? Is the brain the generator of consciousness, or the relayer of it?

    Big questions to be answered.

    Peace,

    V-03
  16. ShaneP Ex-Mod Officio

    Member Since:
    Mar 26, 2001
    star 6
    Kaku said such discoveries of brainwave energy or thought energy could lead one day to telepathy.
  17. Rogue_Ten Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Aug 18, 2002
    star 7
    The Large Hardon Collider smashed some hardons into each other today.
  18. Ramza JC Head Admin and RPF Manager

    Administrator
    Member Since:
    Jul 13, 2008
    star 7
    It's exciting. [face_dancing]

    Granted, I've got a few professors who are convinced we're not going to see anything new, but at the very least I'm curious to see what happens in 2010 once they start colliding things in the 5 TeV energy range. That's over 1E-10 food calories of energy! It's a great time to be in the field, to be sure.
  19. Lord Vivec Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Apr 17, 2006
    star 7
    I did not know you were into physicist porn.
  20. Rogue_Ten Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Aug 18, 2002
    star 7
    Would you say that large hardons typically excite you? o_O
  21. Ramza JC Head Admin and RPF Manager

    Administrator
    Member Since:
    Jul 13, 2008
    star 7
    Yes.

    Hadrons also have that effect, however.:p
  22. Rogue_Ten Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Aug 18, 2002
    star 7
    Nice! :p
  23. ShaneP Ex-Mod Officio

    Member Since:
    Mar 26, 2001
    star 6
  24. Ghost Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Oct 13, 2003
    star 6
    So does anyone know what the Large Hadron Collider has been up to lately? :p

    Yes, it is very intriguing. Some of the theories I've read are truly mindbending. Understanding consciousness is really the last great mystery which we really have no clue about. And also the most fundamental.
  25. Darth_Yuthura Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 7, 2007
    star 4
    Once thing that I find interesting about the brain is that it can't multitask. Did anyone know that?

    One comparison to the ability of the human brain is that you have to build a computer the size of a stadium to match it. Yet our feeble minds can only do a single operation at a time. When you perform multiple tasks at any given moment, you are really only able to focus on only one operation at any given instant. And in doing so, it greatly diminishes your ability to do any one at a time.

    Yet if you step back and consider just how remarkable the brain is to function as it does, then you can really appreciate its complexity. When I try to envision the physical characteristics of the countless neurons and synapses that allow you to remember, form logical thoughts, and be creative... it's just remarkable that all the components of the brain can be organized to physically allow all that.

    I marvel at how you can store 1's and 0's on a hard drive and how a CPU can read that data and operate a program with it. I still have trouble imagining how exactly it all works and how it physically can be done, but it works. The human brain may lack the perfection when it comes to calculation, but it's amazing that it can operate in such a way. We are said to use only 10% or our brains at any given instant, but that only means up to 10% of the neurons in our brains can fire at any given time. I just marvel at how our thoughts can come from that.