Clearly, LHC had the entire world enraptured. This one even had my grandmother ringing me up and telling me about how the world was going to end. I don’t know if I owe this assumption to Otto Rossler who actually came up with the theory of the quasar or do I owe this to the highly sensational IBN7! Anyways, keeping up the sensationalism, I have something interesting for the readers and something to ponder on by the budding scientists.
We have treaded a long way in science but it is interesting that we still have so much to do. I was recently working upon diagnostic treatments of tuberculosis, that I actually came to know that we are still unaware of how the causative agent functions. This made me think, we don’t know how the tuberculosis bacteria functions and we want to crack HIV? Well, I guess thatis the magic of science! It is like an apple! You keep on biting into it to reach the seed. And as of now, I guess we are still peeling the apple.
So, coming to my article, I have chosen five of the most basic and challenging unanswered questions of science to share with the readers.
The first question – How Are Memories Stored and Retrieved?
Now this is actually a question which is not one that really matters to a common man. As in, we classify people as those who have good memory and as those who have bad memory. But imagine, if we discover the dynamics of human memory, we could actually choose to remember and forget things! That’s like Jim Carry and Kate Wince let starrer Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind coming true where a couple gets the portion of the memory erased so that they can get over their break-up! In 1957, there was a surgery done on a neurological patient H.M. At the age of 27, H.M. had large chunks of the temporal lobes of his brain surgically removed in a last-ditch effort to relieve chronic epilepsy. The surgery worked, but it left H.M. unable to remember anything that happened, or anyone he met, after his surgery. The case showed that the medial temporal lobes (MTL), which include the hippocampus, are crucial for making new memories. H.M.’s case also revealed, on closer examination, that memory is not a monolith: Given a tricky mirror drawing task, H.M.’s performance improved steadily over 3 days even though he had no memory of his previous practice. Remembering how is not the same as remembering what, as far as the brain is concerned. As of 2008, scientists have a working knowledge of the various kinds of memory as well as which parts of the brain are involved in each. But persistent gaps remain.
The next question is the classic one which we are all familiar with, “What Is the Universe Made of?” Well this one, I need not elaborate upon as the LHC proposed to answer it. So let us see how far we have come when the results are put up!
The third question is one of primary concern, “How Hot Will the Greenhouse World be?”
I don’t know how many of you know this, but environmental scientists are actually divided into two groups – those who think carbon dioxide is the source of global warming and those who feel it is not the source for all the global warming. What matters is that actually we are on square one! So now we have two questions, if carbon dioxide is NOT the source of global warming, what is? And if it is, how hot will the greenhouse world be?
Question four is an interesting one as well, “What Is the Biological Basis of Consciousness?”
Now this is actually a debatable one. This is one long debate between philosophers and biologists. Whereas the former believe in it at a different level altogether, the latter actually make us think that can we actually conclude functioning of consciousness on the basis of experiments? The famous biologist Greg Miller discusses an interesting experiment in one of his articles. He tells how work with monkeys elucidates some aspects of consciousness, particularly visual awareness. “One experimental approach is to present a monkey with an optical illusion that creates a “bitable percept,” looking like one thing one moment and another next. (The orientation-flipping Necker cube is a well-known example.) Monkeys can be trained to indicate which version they perceive. At the same time, researchers hunt for neurons that track the monkey’s perception, in hopes that these neurons will lead them to the neural systems involved in conscious visual awareness and ultimately to an explanation of how a particular pattern of photons hitting the retina produces the experience of seeing, say, a rose.”
Coming to the fifth unanswered question!
This one would probably be the answer to all our comics’ villains!
“How Much Can Human Life Span Be Extended?”
I spent a lot of my time searching for references on the works done regarding this but came to one conclusion, whatever scientists may say, we really don’t have an answer to this question. Question is, do we even want an answer to this question?
Well, leaving you with many questions to think about, or even to laugh at. I end with a dialogue from the movie Matrix,
“Do not try and bend the spoon. That’s impossible. Instead… only try to realize the truth.”
Neo – “What truth?”
“There is no spoon. “
Neo -“There is no spoon?”
“Then you’ll see, that it is not the spoon that bends, it is only yourself.”
[Image Source: http://flickr.com/photos/nilsensbilder/2781420583/]