Human beings are inquisitive animals. Once we’ve satisfied our basic survival and psychological needs, it’s only natural for us to turn our attention to the bigger issues. We look for answers to the most mind-boggling questions that plague us. Are we alone in the universe? Is there life after death? What is the meaning of life?
If you have got some mind-boggling questions you wanted to be answered, check out the 11 questions and answers below.
11 Mind-Boggling Questions and Answers
How big is the universe?
Because light takes a certain amount of time to reach the Earth, by looking at the most distant stars, it is possible to gauge the size and age of the universe.
However, scientists can only see as well as the most advanced telescopes. This is called the ‘observable universe’. With today’s technology, the universe is estimated to be around 28 billion light-years in diameter.
But as we know, the universe is expanding, so although we can see far back as 13.8 billion light-years, if expansion is occurring at the same rate throughout the life of the universe, that same spot would now be 46 billion light-years away. This means our observable universe is really around 92 billion light-years in diameter.
What is the smallest thing in the world?
From the largest to the smallest now. We have to delve into quantum physics to answer the second of our mind-boggling questions. And the answer is equally mind-boggling.
It was first believed that atoms were the smallest thing in the world, but we now know that atoms are split into subatomic particles of protons, neutrons, and electrons.
Then, in the 1970s, scientists discovered that protons and neutrons are made of even smaller particles known as quarks. It is theorised that these quarks could themselves be made up of even smaller particles called ‘preons’.
Do animals have a soul?
Many people would argue that animals are sentient beings, in other words, they are capable of emotion, feeling pain, and distress. But do they have a soul?
It all depends on what religion you believe in. For example, Christians accept that animals are conscious beings with their own set of feelings and emotions. But they do not believe that animals have souls.
On the other hand, Buddhists and Hinduists believe that animals are part of the reincarnation circle of human life. So an animal can be reborn into a human. Psychologists may argue that as animals don’t have a Theory of Mind, they cannot, therefore, have a soul.
Why is the sky blue?
It’s all to do with light. Light always travels in a straight line, but some things can change this and this affects what colour we see. For instance, light can be reflected, bent, or scattered.
When sunlight enters the earth’s atmosphere, it is scattered by all the gases and particles in the air. Of all the colours in the visible spectrum, blue light is affected the most by this scattering. This is because blue light travels in smaller waves than other colours. So blue light is scattered throughout the sky.
Why is a sunset orangey reddish?
This is another one of those mind-boggling questions that are associated with light and the atmosphere. When light from the sun is low in the earth’s atmosphere, it has to travel through lots more air than when it is directly overhead.
This affects how the light is scattered. As red light has a longer wavelength than all the other colours, this is the one colour that does not get scattered away. Therefore, sunsets appear to be orangey-red.
Why is a rainbow curved?
Two things have to happen for a rainbow to form: refraction and reflection.
Rainbows occur when sunlight passes through water. Light enters raindrops at an angle. This acts as a prism and splits the white light so now we can see the separate colours.
Now onto reflection. The light you see from a rainbow has actually entered a raindrop and reflected into your eyes. Sunlight reflects back through raindrops at a 42-degree angle. It is this 42 degrees that make the shape of a curve.
However, rainbows are not in fact curved, they are circles, but they appear curved because our line of sight is cut off by the horizon. If you wanted to see a complete rainbow circle, you would have to fly above the earth.
Do blind people dream visually?
This all depends on whether a blind person has been blind from birth, or if they were once sighted and have lost their sight.
A person that has been blind from birth will not have the same visual experiences or knowledge as a sighted person. Therefore, it is sensible to accept that they will not have the same visual dreams as a sighted person.
In fact, brain scans taken during sleep of both blind and sighted people appear to support this. Instead, a blind person will experience more sounds or smells in their dreams. They may have some visual stimulus, but these are likely to be made up of colours or shapes.
Why is every snowflake symmetrical?
When water molecules crystallise (go from liquid to solid), they form bonds with each other and arrange themselves in a particular way. They align together in predetermined spaces. This is because once crystallisation begins, the molecules can only move in a pre-set pattern.
Once this process starts the molecules fill in the spaces of the pattern. This means that every arm of the snowflake is symmetrical. It is easy to imagine this if you think of a parquet floor. Once the first row of wooden blocks is laid out, there’s only one way the rest can follow.
Why is ice slippery?
Ice itself is not slippery, it is a thin layer of water on top of the ice that makes us slip on it.
Water molecules have weak bonds. This means they can move around easily and slide over and past one another. It is this low viscosity that makes ice slippery. Because the water molecules are weak, they cannot stick to anything.
Is light a particle or a wave?
If you are interested in the basics of quantum physics, then you may have heard of the double-slit experiment. The experiment sought to find out the answer to this very mind-boggling question. Unfortunately, the answer is equally bonkers.
To prove whether light travels as particles or waves, a beam of light is projected through two slits and then onto a light-sensitive plate at the back.
If the exposed plate shows a block mark, then light is a particle. If light travels as waves, then the act of passing through the two slits will cause the light to bounce off each other and there will be many blocks on the exposed plate.
So far good. But here’s the mind-boggling part of this question. The experimenters found that when they observed the experiment, light behaved as a particle, but when they did not observe it, it travelled in waves. The burning question is, how do quantum light particles know they are being watched?
Why doesn’t the Earth fall down?
I wondered this question when I was a child at primary school. It bothered me that something as big as the Earth could stay floating in space. Now I know that it is all to do with gravity.
“Gravity is the curvature of spacetime due to the presence of mass.” Robert Frost, Instructor and Flight Controller at NASA
In other words, gravity is caused by mass, so objects with mass attract one another. The object with the biggest mass will have the greatest pull. The Earth does not fall from the sky because it is held within the gravitational field of the Sun.
Did you find the answer to one of your mind-boggling questions above, or do you have some of your own? Let us know!
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