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The 7 Biggest Unanswered Questions in Physics

The 7 Biggest Unanswered Questions in Physics

HARIDHA P 184 26-Dec-2022

If Isaac Newton were to unexpectedly appear from a time machine, he would be ecstatic to discover how far physics had advanced. Things that were incredibly enigmatic a few centuries ago are now covered in introductory physics schools (the composition of stars is one good example).T

he Large Hadron Collider (LHC) in Switzerland is a gigantic experiment that Newton would find astounding. He could also find it upsetting to hear that Einstein's theory of gravity has supplanted Newton's theory of gravity. In spite of the fact that modern scientists share his opinion, he would likely find quantum mechanics odd.

1. What is the composition of matter?

We already know that protons, neutrons, and electrons make up the atoms that make up matter. And we are aware that quarks, which are smaller particles, are the building blocks of protons and neutrons. Would further exploration turn up more fundamental particles? We cannot be certain.T

he interactions between subatomic particles are extremely well explained by something known as the Standard Model of particle physics. It has also been possible to anticipate the existence of previously undiscovered particles using the Standard Model. This method was used to discover the Higgs boson, which was detected in 2012 by LHC physicists.

2. Why is gravity such an odd force?

Gravity is the most well-known force because, after all, it keeps us on our feet. Additionally, Einstein's general relativity theory provides a mathematical description of gravity by referring to it as a 'warping' of space. However, the other three forces are known to be three times stronger than gravity (electromagnetism and the two kinds of nuclear forces that operate over tiny distances).

In addition to the three dimensions of space that we are aware of on a daily basis, one speculative option is that there are hidden extra dimensions that are 'curled up' in such a way that they are indiscernible.

3. Why does it appear like time moves in just one direction?

Since Einstein, physicists have considered space and time to be two components of a four-dimensional structure called 'spacetime.' However, there are certain very fundamental ways in which space and time diverge. We can move around as we like in space. We're in a bind in terms of time. Not younger, but older. 

We also recall the past but not the future. Physics experts refer to it as the 'arrow of time' because time, unlike space, appears to have a preferred direction.One possible solution, according to some physicists, is revealed by the second rule of thermodynamics. According to this, a physical system's entropy (essentially, the degree of disorder) increases over time, and physicists believe that this increase is what gives time its direction.

4. What happened to all the antimatter?

Perhaps fiction has given antimatter greater notoriety than reality. Antimatter combines with conventional matter in the original Star Trek to fuel the warp drive, which accelerates the U.S.S. Enterprise to speeds greater than the speed of light. Antimatter is absolutely real, but warp drive is just science fiction. We are aware that there is a chance to have an identical particle with the opposite electrical charge for every particle of conventional matter. 

A proton, for instance, is exactly like an antiproton, but it has a negative charge. Conversely, the positively charged positron is the antiparticle that corresponds to the negatively charged electron.Antimatter has been produced by physicists in a lab. When they do, though, they produce an equivalent amount of matter.

5. What transpires between a solid and a liquid?

We know a lot about solids and liquids. The behaviour of some materials, however, is unpredictable because they behave both like a liquid and a solid. For instance, sand. A single grain of sand is as heavy as a boulder, but a million may move down a funnel almost as easily as water. Highway traffic can act similarly, flowing easily up until a bottleneck, at which point it becomes backed up. A deeper comprehension of this 'grey zone' could therefore have significant practical implications.

6. Can a single, comprehensive theory of physics be found?

General relativity, which is Einstein's theory of gravity, and quantum mechanics are currently our two main theories for explaining nearly all physical phenomena. Everything from golf balls to galaxies can be accurately explained by the former. In its own domain, that of atoms and subatomic particles, quantum mechanics is amazing.

The two ideas, however, depict our world in quite different ways. In general relativity, spacetime is malleable, in contrast to quantum mechanics, where spacetime serves as a fixed backdrop for events. How might curved space-time be described in a quantum theory? Carroll states that we are unsure. We have no idea of what we are attempting to quantize.

7. How did life originate from inanimate matter?

Earth had no life for the first half a billion years. Life began to emerge after that and has since flourished. How did life begin, though? Scientists think that simple inorganic molecules first reacted to create complex organic compounds in the oceans, preceding the start of life evolution. 

However, what actually began this process in the first place? A recent hypothesis put out by MIT physicist Dr. Jeremy England seeks to explain the genesis of life in terms of fundamental physics. In this theory, the entropy-increasing process that leads to life is inevitable. According to England's 2014 statement to Quanta magazine, if the hypothesis is right, the emergence of life 'should be as unsurprising as rocks tumbling downhill.'

A passionate writer, blogger, language trainer, co-author of the book 'Irenic' and an enthusiastic learner. Interest includes travelling places and exploring.

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