5 Mysteries Science Just Can’t Explain

mysteries science can't explainScience

Here’s a well-deserved nod to science. Scientific advances have improved every notable aspect of human existence. Of course, these range from our health and lifespan to air travel to the 5-inch computers we can fit in our pocket.

“The most beautiful thing we can experience is the Mysterious.” – Albert Einstein

But, as incredible as science is – and despite all the leaps forward – there are some things that science just can’t explain. Will science eventually be able to explain everything? Maybe. But for now, scientists the world over remain genuinely puzzled about seemingly inexplicable phenomena.

In this article, we will talk about the five biggest mysteries facing science today. However, let’s start with a tip of our collective caps to the scientists, engineers, and inventors who made some incredible advances.

A Brief History of Science

So, as part of the nod to science, here are some important scientific and technological advances to date:

Date (or approximate)


Paved the way for….

10 million years agoHumans make first toolsTools and machines
1-2 million years agoHumans discover fireFuel, candles, engines
10,000 BCEConstruction of first shipsBoats, ships, sea craft


8000-9000 BCEDevelopment of agriculture and construction techniquesBuildings, aquafers, biofuels, housing


3500 BCEThe wheel is inventedWheels and axles
3000 BCEDevelopment of first writing toolsPens, typewriters
2500 BCEProduction of early versions of paper (papyrus)Paper
2000 BCEDevelopment of early lifting devicesElevators, escalators
1000 BCEThe ‘Iron Age’Iron and steel
c. 150-100 BCEDevelopment of precision, gear-driven clockwork machinesClockwork
c. 50 BCEDesign of the water wheel (turbine)Turbines
62 CEDevelopment of steam powerSteam engines
700-900 CEThe invention of gunpowder and fireworksAmmunition, fireworks, detonation devices
1200The invention of a flushing deviceToilets
1450Gutenberg develops the printing pressPrinting
1590The first microscope is inventedMicroscopes, electron microscopes
1687Newton develops laws of motionMotion, gravity
1703Gottfried Leibniz pioneers the first binary number systemComputer programming
1730s-1770sDevelopment of chronometersSatellite navigation, quartz clocks, and watches
1814George Stephenson engineers the first steam locomotiveSteam engines
1830sWilliam Sturgeon develops the first electric motorElectric motors
1840sDevelopment of the electric telegraphTelegraph machines, telephones
1839Charles Goodyear develops a durable firm of rubber (vulcanized rubber)Rubber, car tires
1850sLouis Pasteur develops pasteurization – a method of heating and killing bacteriaPasteurization
1860sPioneering of the internal combustion engine by Etienne Lenoir and Nikolaus OttoCar engines
1870sEdison invents the phonographRecord players, sound
1880sEdison patents the incandescent electric lampLamps
1890sLouis and Joseph Lumiere patent movie projectors and open the first movie theatresProjection machines, cinema
The first radio wave signals are transmitted from across the Atlantic OceanRadio
1908Henry Ford launches the Ford Model TAutomobiles, auto manufacturing
1920sDevelopment of electronic televisionTelevision
1930sRobert Watson Watt leads the development of radarRadar
1940sThe mass productions of penicillin; development of the first transistorsGenetics, genetic research
1950sJonas Silk develops and tests first polio vaccinePharmacological research, aversion of disability
1960sDevelopment of ARPANET, the predecessor of the internetInternet conception
1970sVoyager ProgramSolar System exploration
1980sTim Berners-Lee creates World Wide WebInternet infrastructure
1990sMapping of the human genomeGenetic research, disease research, and prevention
2000sStem cell research and programmingDisease prevention, disease, and disability research
2010sIBM creates chips that mimic human brainsDeep learning


By no means is this a comprehensive list. However, it shows us the inventiveness and intelligence of scientists.

Now, what hasn’t science been able to explain (yet)? Let’s go!

Mysteries that Science Can’t Explain

  1. Dark Matter

Even the famed astrophysicist and genius Neil deGrasse Tyson has difficulty explaining dark matter. “Dark matter…I gotta ask what it is, and my best answer is ‘We haven’t a clue (laughs)’…We don’t know what it is.”

Tyson also notes that 85 percent of the Universe comes from the unknown source that is dark matter.

“We add up all the stars, galaxies, planets, comets, black holes, dark clouds, everything that we can (sense), and it doesn’t add up to give us the gravity that we see operating in this universe.”

So, what is dark matter? It’s a “hypothetical form of matter” that, as deGrasse Tyson states, is the “greatest unsolved mystery in the history of astrophysics.” The only thing that science proves is that this dark matter produces gravitational effects that impact galaxies and star clusters.

  1. Sleep

Why do we sleep? “It’s because we’re tired, duh!” Fair enough and, indeed, correct! If only science were that simple!

But what scientists are referring to is this: the need to sleep when you’re tired. In other words, why can’t you feel as tired as you want and stay awake? It’s probably accurate to say that most people would do exactly that if they could. Sleeping takes a big chunk out of our modest 70 to 80-year average lifespan.

Theories abound, of course. Jerry Siegel, a professor of psychiatry at UCLA in Los Angeles, California, explains his hypothesis: “Across species, energy savings is the main evolutionary impulse for sleep.” In the wild, animals that expend their energy quickly are more likely to perish. Well, if nature has taught us anything, it’s that human beings possess an innate and powerful survival mechanism. And, that’s a true fact among other species, also.

  1. Consciousness

Attempting to explain consciousness is akin to trying to sprint across an ice skating rink. We know we’re alive; we know that we exist, right? Right?

For all the advances in science, experts who research that the brain cannot state with any confidence that the brain causes consciousness. In fact, there is a multitude of evidence that points to consciousness existing, at least in part, outside of the brain.

Not only is the subject of consciousness perplexing. Also, it can get just plain weird. Russell Targ, a laser physicist by trade, was tasked by the U.S. intelligence community, including the CIA, Army Intelligence, Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), and NASA to conduct research into remote viewing, the “practice of seeking impressions about a distant or unseen target” using extrasensory perception (ESP).

Targ and his partner, Harold Puthoff of Stanford Research Institute (SRI) successfully conducted remote spying operations for over 20 years. Targ and Puthoff’s research is published in numerous prestigious journals, including the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE).

How is one able to “sense” to “see” something without physically being present? Such a phenomenon is only explainable if awareness – an element of consciousness – exists somewhere outside of the body. “My opinion is that who you are is non-local awareness independent of space and time,” says Targ.

  1. Origin of the Universe

Humans have been asking “Where did we come from?” since the beginning of time. As technology continues to evolve, demand for answers to this question is becoming increasingly vociferous.

The “Big Bang” theory is science’s answer to the question, though the theory leaves much to be desired for some. In simple terms, the Big Bang Theory proposes that the Universe began at a single moment in time and from one point. Eventually, it expanded to the Universe that we “know” today. Most scientists believe that the Universe evolved from a singularity – a “very hot, small, and dense super-force, with no stars, atoms, forms or structures.”

Unfortunately, the Big Bang Theory may never be proven. Then there’s the question, “Where did the ‘singularity’ come from?” But, for now, our collective head hurts.

  1. Intelligent Life (UFOs)

“E.T. phone home.”

With these words, our civilization’s interest in living forms that exist outside of our curious eyeballs reached its peak. Sadly, no Reese’s-Pieces-loving alien that misses home has been discovered.

That’s not to say that there haven’t been sightings. There’ve been plenty. Even some government spacecraft (read: astronauts) and pilots on top-secret excursions have seen weird things fly across the sky. Then there’s Area 51, but we don’t have all day.

We simply do not have any evidence of intelligent life outside of humans. Moreover, it seems that we need proof of everything nowadays. However, there may just be a teensy-weensy problem with the whole “proof” thing.

The SETI Institute, which has been watching for alien activity for decades, uses high-powered, state-of-the-art technology in their mission.

The potential problem? Well, all the expensive observation equipment is designed for use by humans. In other words, humans have created it using what humans understand concerning the properties of the universe (e.g. physics). Any observation must be perceived through human senses and validated using human judgment. The problem? Well, the hypothetical aliens aren’t human!

If intelligent life exists, it’s probably a different species altogether. Such a hypothetical species may have different senses, technology, and means of observation and validation. If it’s an interplanetary species, their technology is probably light-years (pun intended) beyond ours. May be time to rethink our approach. Just sayin’.


The Future of Science

In short, there are plenty of things we simply do not understand at this point in human development. Of course, who knows what tomorrow may bring? In the meantime, not understanding some of these things should not cause any of us to fear or worry. We can ponder. We can wonder. And we can even have some crazy theories and interesting discussions about the possibilities. So, embrace the truth that we don’t know everything. However, that fact should not keep us from living positive, full lives.


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