Through science, human beings have been able to explore space (some of it), cure diseases, end epidemics, invent robots, and create 3D printers that are all the rage these days. One would think that with all its impressive accomplishments, science would have the answer to everything but it in fact, does not. Here are 5 questions, some of them which seem very simple, that science just hasn’t been able to answer (yet).
Why is yawning contagious?
It’s 2pm on Wednesday afternoon and the day hasn’t worn me out yet but strangely, just when I began to read up on this particular question, I yawned twice. Coincidence? I think not. Maybe reading this will make you yawn as well? Let me know if it does!
Apart from yawning when you read the word “yawn” or when you think about it, there’s something called contagious yawning, and only humans, chimpanzees and possibly dogs, can do it. Why does seeing another person open their jaws wide and squinting cause you to do the same? No one knows!
With preliminary brain scan data, scientists have figured out that parts of the brain associated with the ability to attribute mental states and feelings to oneself and others (known as empathy) become active when people see other people yawning. Many autistic and schizophrenic people don’t exhibit this brain activity, and they don’t yawn when they observe others yawning.
According to this study, your ability to yawn when others yawn could be a sign of empathy and social bonding, but why exactly it happens, is still quite a mystery. Maybe in the future, scientists will discover that it’s just our bodies’ way of messing with us – like when you have to wake up to pee at 3am.
I just yawned again.
What causes Hypnic Jerk?
You know when you’re drifting off to sleep and then you suddenly experience a falling sensation and wake up with a start? Yup, that’s what we call a hypnic jerk. It’s perfectly normal, it seems, but no one really knows what causes it to happen or if it serves any kind of purpose other than DISTURBING OUR SLEEP.
According to this website, a hypnic jerk is an involuntary muscle movement made during sleep, or while coming into or out of sleep, even though those that take place when a person is waking up are less frequent. Almost everyone has experienced a hypnic jerk, and they pose no threat, unless there’s someone lying beside you when it happens, in which case you could kick them.
Some researchers have attributed the falling sensation that comes just before a hypnic jerk to the muscular relaxation that takes place as we fall asleep, a similar relaxation to that which we would experience in a free fall. A more colourful explanation for hypnic jerks is that the movements are our bodies; attempt to keep us alive, because sometimes the brain confuses sleep with death and decides to fight it.
We’re all obviously confused.
What are dreams?
My dreams, when I remember them, are usually of the silly kind; parties under my bed, sneakers on my head in place of a hat – that sort of thing. But what are dreams and why do they occur?
According to this article, dreams are a universal human experience that can be described as a state of consciousness characterized by sensory, cognitive and emotional occurrences during sleep. Some people believe dreams are just random images, while others think dreams have meanings, and often try to decipher them. It has been theorized that we dream:
- To represent unconscious desires and wishes
- To interpret random signals from the brain and body during sleep
- To consolidate and process information gathered during the day
- To work as a form of psychotherapy.
But all of this is guess work. Scientists are still unsure of what dreams are and if they’re necessary at all.
Perhaps future generations of scientists will discover that dreams are actual realities of our other selves who live on other planets. Wouldn’t that be something?
Does God exist?
Many people would say yes without a second’s thought. They’d tell you, “look at the earth, at the universe. If it wasn’t God who created them, what else could have?” Errr.. I’m sorry but that alone isn’t enough reason to believe that God, the almighty and supreme being, truly exists.
First of all, if he exists, where is He? And how are we so sure that he’s a He and not a She? Someone will answer and say that S/He is, “everywhere,” I’m sure.
Yes, faith is believing in what your eyes cannot see, and everyone is free to have as much of it as they want, but science on the other hand, is concerned with researching and finding answers to questions. Has science been able to prove without a doubt that God either exists or doesn’t? No.
It is true that scientists have no definite explanation of what caused the “big bang” that birthed the universe (even that is now in dispute), but does that mean that someone caused it? And that, that someone is God? Where did S/He come from then? And if S/He was created through some means, then that must have been caused by something or someone else, right? Who then? See where I’m going with this?
I read these 6 reasons why God exists that I think you’d find interesting. Perhaps science would like to just sit this one out and let everyone decide for themselves?
Why do cats purr?
I love cats; they’re adorable in that way they rub themselves on your legs and let out that weird, but oddly brilliant sound. They purr when they’re happy, when they’re nursing their newborn, and sometimes when they’re stressed out.
How do cats create this purring sound? Science can’t tell you. There’s no purring organ in a cat’s throat, and the exact origin of it is still unknown. Scientists have theorized that cats purr by constricting and dilating the larynx, but no evidence has ever been provided to prove or disprove this.
What scientists do know is that the frequency of a cat’s purr can promote bone growth and healing. Maybe Western witches didn’t have cats riding with them on their broomsticks for aesthetic reasons? Maybe they have superpowers of their own? Anything is possible at this point.
Do you have any nagging questions that science has failed at answering for you? Drop them in the comments section below and I’ll try my hardest to come up with an absurd explanation!