What's a scientific theory or unexplained phenomenon you really love but you don't think we talk about enough?

I want to hear all the weirdest ones


Unexplained and maybe nonexistent: earthquake lights

Explained, awesome, and sadly only used for evil: supercavitation.

@mttaggart supercavitation is so interesting if we all suddenly live underwater when the ice caps melt 🙃

@dctrjack I'll never give up the dream of a submarine Concorde.

@dctrjack quantum mechanics and how deeply weird the universe is

@dctrjack I wouldn't mind seeing more work into the hypothesis that consciousness is just a fundamental part of Existence, like gravity and spacetime and all that

@brotherjay Yes! I love this type of stuff. The concept of consciousness is wild, blows my brain up

@dctrjack reducing the impact of climate change through large scale carbon capture via bioengineered algae

@inkican interesting -- any recommended reading on this?

@dctrjack galaxies don't have enough matter in them to explain the gravity that MUST be there given how they rotate. There's ... Something Else ... going on to add more gravity. The leading contender is "dark matter" but every theory about dark matter has made failed predictions so far. So where's the extra gravity coming from???

My favorite theory I've seen published so far is that it's clouds of medium sized black holes. If so they'll show up as microlensing events and there are telescopes looking for these... And JWST should be really good at seeing such events.

I hope to see more such ridiculous theories until we figure out what's actually going on.

@eqe This is really cool -- any recommended reading on this?

Am I getting it right that you're talking about BHs that exist in the "mass gap" right now?

@dctrjack afraid I don't know of a good intro, but for a fun time, search arxiv:ph for "primordial black hole". The proposal is that they're not stellar remnant black holes, but rather created early after the big bang, so theory allows them to be down as small as earth-mass or so.

Some recent preprints:

Oh, wow, I hadn't actually caught up this year, I'm like 9 months behind and the field has really taken off. I figured the paper that introduced me to the idea (back in 2021q3) would be in the first page or three of results but these are all in like the last 2 months :)

@dctrjack here's a good intro to the microlensing situation idk if their clustering contribution is solid but the introduction to the field of research was helpful.

@dctrjack oh whoops I may have been thinking of this preprint, now I'm not sure which one I read

@bkeegan have always been fascinated by the idea of Planet Nine and even though I think most astro types suggest we probably just need to get more/better data.

@dctrjack Recently read about a case of a man who died of a heart attack while undergoing brain imaging. Apparently the brain images showed activity consistent with recall of old memories, like “life flashing before your eyes.” Would be interesting to know if that’s a real thing.

@JMMaok I remember seeing this study and thinking it was really interesting. It's so hard to test, for obvious reasons, but I think the moments before death and just after is such an interesting topic!

@dctrjack I have always been intrigued by the Critical Period Hypothesis in second language acquisition, which states the commonsensical-sounding idea that beyond puberty it’s much more difficult if not impossible to obtain native-like competency in a second language.

@PeterWyrm @dctrjack I don't think it's true. I believe the only real way to learn a language is immersion. You have to place yourself into a place where you HAVE to learn the language, then your brain will force re-wire itself.

The reason why adults generally have trouble learning a new language is because adults mostly have their lives and routines set will rarely choose to take that kind of major risk, up root themselves, and place themselves into that kind of situation.


There are many weird things about langage acquisition, like intercomprehension, the "Maître ignorant" experiment that Rancière refers, or the fact that (apparently) after learning 4-5 langages it becomes extremely easy to learn more of them...


@kobe652 @dctrjack Maybe there usually is, and this is just a fluke - but there’s nobody and nothing to notice and count the nothing.

@dctrjack The fact that consciousness catches up to our decision making. That is, when we think we've made a decision, that actually happened some (short) time ago. What we're perceiving as consciousness is the post-facto storytelling of the results of our subconscious processes.

I'll leave it as an exercise to the reader what that does or doesn't mean about free will.

@dctrjack Not really a theory or unexplained phenomenon, but I'm personally endlessly fascinated by Göbekli Tepe. A massive temple complex built 5000 years before agriculture was developed. It's an archeological find this century that has completely turned everything we once believed about the development of agriculture and religion and prehistoric human capability on it's head.

@dctrjack Folks generally have heard that the universe is expanding, and that the further you look the faster things are moving away. What’s generally under-appreciated is that there is a distance in the observable universe after which *space* is expanding faster than the speed of light. Galaxies beyond this horizon will fade away, as new light emitted today fails to ever catch up to us. The universe is ~13.7B years old, but the radius of the observable universe is 46B lightyears!

@dctrjack Soil.

Despite having been to the moon, humans still don't really understand the universe that is right beneath our feet and literally feeds us.

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