7 Mysteries Science Hasn’t Solved


[♪ INTRO] If you’ve got a question about the world, there’s
no better tool than science for answering it. But sometimes, even science
struggles to explain everything. Some phenomena are so rare that scientists
don’t get the chance to observe them in real time, while others are so common it’s hard
to find one thing which explains every occurance. And some are just such head-scratchers that
scientists haven’t been able to figure out despite decades or even centuries of research. Let’s take a look at seven of the coolest, weirdest
mysteries that scientists are still trying to solve. First up is something so common you might
have seen it yourself: ball lightning. Surveys show about 5% of people have seen
these strange, glowing orbs of light and records of them date back to antiquity. They have the appearance of lightning,
but instead of a quick flash, each ball can last from seconds to minutes. Most are no bigger than your head, but the
largest can be more than a meter across! Some observers have even reported the orbs
entering buildings through windows or traveling along the ground. Outside, ball lightning seems to appear alongside
thunderstorms, but during World War II, it was often observed by pilots and even in the
engine rooms of submarines. Over the years, scientists have proposed lots
of different ideas to explain what’s going on. One idea is that when lightning strikes during a thunderstorm, it vaporizes some of the silicon found in
everyday soil and releases it into the air. As the vapor condenses into flecks of silicon dust, it picks up an electric charge and
clumps together into loose “balls.” Individual silicon molecules then combine
with oxygen from the air to form silicon dioxide, which releases the energy that causes the
ball to glow like lightning. And there’s some support for this idea,
as researchers have succeeded in creating smaller, shorter-lived glowing balls in a
lab by vaporizing silicon. But lightning doesn’t strike underwater,
let alone in a submarine. Another possible explanation for ball lightning
is that the electrical energy in a storm creates microwaves and that,
just like in your microwave oven, those waves energize water molecules in the air. Through a process called stimulated emission,
air molecules shed that extra energy as a glowing light we see as ball lightning. Stimulated emission might also help explain
the observations made inside planes and subs. Those closed environments could trap the energy
and enhance the process. It’s also possible that what
looks the same in those places is actually a different phenomenon
than what we see outside. Scientists will have to be in the right place
at the right time to study actual cases to figure out what’s going on. Ball lightning might look like lightning without
thunder, but what about the opposite: thunder without lightning? That’s what some in the US call a skyquake. In Japan, their name translates to “rumbling
of the sea,” and in Bangladesh, it’s “Barisal guns.” Whatever the name, what people hear is a loud,
thunder-like boom coming from a perfectly-clear sky. They’ve been reported for centuries across
an incredible array of circumstances, which could mean that a bunch of different
processes are all producing similar results. In the modern world, some are probably the
shockwave produced when a far-off jet goes supersonic. Of course, that doesn’t explain skyquakes
from before the invention of jets and, even today, supersonic flight is banned
around most places people live. Some have suggested small meteors could be
the source of far-off sonic booms instead. Since the rocks burn up quickly, they could
be visually gone before the noise reaches the ground, and they’d be hard to spot anyway
during the daytime. Other scientists think that rumbles heard
near a coast might come from giant bubbles of methane released from the ocean floor. The gas molecules are physically trapped within
crystalized water, forming substances called clathrates. Occasionally, the strength of these
clathrates can fail catastrophically, releasing a bunch of methane all at once. When it reaches the surface, all that gas
can create a shockwave which makes a loud boom, and sometimes, even launches a tsunami. Far from the sea, they could be related to
their better-known cousin, the earthquake. Shallow, weak earthquakes may not shake the
ground enough for us to notice, but the sound they produce could
still be loud enough to hear. So next time you hear a rumble in the sky,
it could actually be the ground. Or the sea. Or a plane? Alright, let’s move on. Skyquakes and ball lightning have remained unsolved for centuries, but there are more recent discoveries so
baffling that they earned a spot on this list. Since 2007, astronomers have detected a series of high-energy pulses coming from
seemingly-random directions in space. They’re called fast radio bursts or FRBs
because each lasts just a few milliseconds. Here’s the really weird part: all but one
have never been heard from again. So it’s probably not ET trying to get in touch. Astronomers have figured out that whatever’s
producing them is way outside our galaxy, billions of lightyears from Earth. For them to appear so bright means the source
must be astonishingly powerful. Our only hint about what’s going on comes
from the one source that’s ever repeated, and studies suggest it may be one of the universe’s
most tortured objects. Many experts think it’s a neutron star,
the dead core of an exploded giant star. And not just any neutron star, but one that’s
having a really bad day. One hypothesis suggests it’s in the midst
of being devoured by a nearby black hole. Another claims it’s caught in the supernova
blast of yet another dying star. Either way, all this trouble is causing it
to emit a series of fast radio bursts. The thing is, since no other FRB repeats, we don’t know if this tells us anything
about what’s causing them. Then again, maybe the other sources do repeat,
just over a much longer timescale. A decade is pretty short on the cosmic scale,
after all! Another “cosmic” mystery probably isn’t
coming from space at all! For centuries, people have reported finding
star jelly on the ground or in tree branches, especially after a meteor shower. This gooey material seems otherworldly, but
one thing we can be sure of is that it’s not coming from outer space. Something as delicate as star jelly just wouldn’t
survive the heat and pressure of entering Earth’s atmosphere. It is a good example of how things happening
close together can lead scientists astray. Most likely, long ago, some observers noticed
star jelly around the time they saw a meteor shower, and the connection just kind of stuck. But if it’s not goop
from the galaxy, what is it? One clue might come from where it’s often
found, near bodies of water. Star jelly bears a striking resemblance to the spawning
material that contains eggs of reproducing frogs. So in some cases, it might be frogspawn or
frog ovaries eaten, and then thrown back up, by another animal. We’re a long way from black holes destroying
neutron stars here. There are also no shortage of
strange gel-forming creatures, from slime molds and fungi to
bacteria and blue-green algae. And at least one case was determined to be
simply chemical in nature, a purple gel found in Texas in 1979 turned out to
be a cleaning agent from a nearby battery factory. So it may just be that there are way too many
strange gelatinous things in this world to attribute star jelly to just one source. Determining the jelly-in-question every time
would mean taking careful samples, finding experts, and maybe even
running DNA tests or something. That’s a lot of time and money for scientists
to spend just to answer “what is that goo?” Bacteria are potential culprits in another
unexplained natural phenomenon: forest rings. These circular patterns are made by trees
whose growth has been stunted compared to the rest of the forest. They can range in size from
a few meters to a few kilometers and are pretty much only visible from the air. Around 2,000 are known in the world,
but scientists estimate that that might just be a quarter
of the true number. And unlike crop circles, forest rings aren’t
created by people. Although, it’s pretty funny to imagine someone slowly poisoning trees for decades
in the middle of nowhere. Talk about a long con! In the past, scientists thought they were
the result of a harmful fungus spreading out from a single tree But sampling didn’t reveal any clear culprits. More recent ideas have focused not on the
trees themselves, but what’s below them. Soil samples taken in some rings reveal an
unusually-high concentration of methane. Other measurements showed the potential for
underground metal deposits. Either one can create an excess of negative
electric charge and basically turn the ground into one big natural battery. That acidifies the soil and harms tree growth. Bacteria may play an important role, especially
when it comes to the methane. Microbes far underground might produce the stuff, while those closer to the surface can
consume it as part of the reaction. But that’s all mostly speculation at this point. Geologists and biologists have only recently
started digging into the mystery, and are now trying to set up their own artificial
forest rings to try to find out what’s really going on. Unseen geology is also a suspect for one of
the world’s weirdest light displays. For decades, locals near the Hessdalen valley
of Norway have reported a series of strange, floating lights. These so-called Hessdalen lights can be as
large as a car and float in place for hours. In the 1980s, they were seen as often as 20
times a week. If you ever see one, don’t touch it! Individual lights have been measured to emit
as much as 19 kilowatts of power! Because the Hessdalen lights always appear
in the same area, scientists have been able to make better measurements of them than many
other unexplained phenomena. Even so, there are still a wide range of ideas
about what’s going on. One is that we’re seeing the effects of
a Coulomb crystal, which honestly just sounds like
something from science fiction. Coulomb crystals can form in plasma, which
is basically a form of electrically-charged gas. They’re not physical in the sense that you
could pick one up. Think instead of a kind of force-field cage
within the gas. If enough charged particles were trapped inside
such a crystal, their combined glow could shine brightly. As for why Norway, of all places, some scientists
think there is a unique situation where a source of atmospheric dust comes into contact
with a natural reservoir of radon gas. Radon is radioactive and, as it decays, it
emits radiation that could electrically charge the dust in a way that makes Coulomb crystals
more likely. Other researchers think the lights are actually a special case of something
we’ve already mentioned: ball lightning! Instead of a storm, though, the lightning
would be thanks to this region’s unique geology. Rocks in the valley contain a lot of quartz, which generates an electric field when strained
under physical forces like compression. All that excess electricity could launch a
lightning ball over and over in the same area, resulting in a beautiful, but dangerous light
display. One thing that’s pretty clear about all
these mysteries is that aliens are not the answer. Except for maybe this last one, well, from
a certain point of view. The biggest unsolved mystery in geology isn’t
lights in Norway, but the outside of rocks all over the world. Wherever there’s arid conditions, geologists
find rocks covered in desert varnish, a dark substance just a few microns thick. Petroglyphs, the rock art of some ancient cultures, were often created by scraping away the
varnish to reveal the brighter rock below. One particularly intriguing observation is that,
although the composition of desert varnish varies, it doesn’t seem to relate to what
makes up the rock underneath. And scientists can generally detect microbes
in the stuff, but that doesn’t mean that they’re the source of it. Some elements found in the varnish, like manganese,
are common microbial waste products, but the real question is whether life is
producing the varnish, or simply there, too. And there is another, much more speculative
idea which is kind of fun. Some have proposed that desert varnish might
be the most visible sign of the so-called shadow biosphere. That’s the idea that there’s a whole world
of undiscovered microscopic life on Earth that we haven’t noticed because it doesn’t
work how we expect. Imagine life with a totally different chemistry. Would we recognize it? It’d almost be like alien life right here
on our own planet. This is an idea rooted more in philosophy
than science. But it is an important warning as we begin
to look for life beyond Earth. The universe may be full of creatures,
but if they work fundamentally different than anything
we know, how will we find them? In a way, that’s the value of these unsolved
mysteries. They force scientists to consider our own,
well-studied world in new and surprising ways. Each question might be small, but the investigation
has the chance to reveal big new answers. Thanks for watching this episode of SciShow! If you liked learning about the science
behind these weird phenomena, you might like our episode on three times
science debunked the paranormal. [♪ OUTRO]

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100 thoughts on “7 Mysteries Science Hasn’t Solved

  1. YEAH LIKE EXPLAIN WHY A HALF ALREADY FUGLY GIRL WOULD THINK A RING THAT GETS PUT IN BULLS IS COOL AND PUTS IT IN HER NOSE AND LIKE ANYONE IN THIER RIGHT MIND IS GOING TO SIT AND LISTEN TO A BEAST … OMG COMB THAT CROP!!!

  2. I don't take into account anything that someone wearing a ring in their nose says. They can't be too smart! Think what would happen if someone would get ahold of that ring and yank it out of the nose!

  3. and that is because humans try to 'simplify to understand" and some things are not quite to our comprehension..such as 'magnetism" which still eludes comprehension! Another is "gravity" which science explains by the liquid core spinning causing magnetism which results in a 'pull"! But maybe its "comprehension", not science that doesn't come up with an acceptable explanation?

  4. Biggest unsolved mystery is,, "
    Why do u have to start ur sentences High and Finish sentences Below Low"…🤔🤔

  5. I'm really wondering if there is a scientific explanation why females labor under the delusion that snot catchers do anything for their looks.

  6. I´ve actually been to Hessdalen many times (my family has a cottage close to it). Never seen any lights though.
    They are actually doing quite some research on these lights to try and pinpoint where they come from and then what´s so special about the place where they are most often seen.

  7. Anyone heasrd of the Taos, New Mexico humming? That one I heard hasn't been explained by science. Weird stuff

  8. We are the aliens. How have you not noticed? And, considering there are living things within you creating the vessle you identify as, would it be so hard to believe that you're part of something else that's alive?

  9. The thunder bolts=balls of fire from the sky are intensity bolt lightning that can not be absorbe as quickly as a regular lighting striking earth, so multiple " ball rolling" lighting in different directions caused by an impact occurs.
    Call centellas in Spanish.
    1 Problem solved.

  10. 2:50 I live in Bangladesh, and I didn't know it called Barisal Guns. Btw, the pronunciation of "Barisal" is "Borishal" 😂

  11. She said there is no better tool then science for answering questions about nature. Ball lighting it's so common that 5% of people have seen it. I'm thinking only 5% of people seeing it would be an uncommon occurrence. Then she goes on to say when scientists have no clue what a phenomenon is they hypothesize that it is most likely caused by some form of swamp gas (Brillant!) and in no way could it possibly be anything of a supernatural or extraterrestrial nature.

    This sort of reminds me of the theoretical physicist Lawrence Krauss telling his students that science can't tell us what is true only what is untrue and there are no stupid questions when it comes to science, everything can and should be questioned except, global warming, evolution, and the big bang theory are absolutely undebatably true and if you disagree your stupid.

  12. The Germans have reproduced kugleballs. I have seen lightening balls, about the size of hard baseballs, come out of the telephone, take a rectilinear course, and quench themselves in the sink. I have seen this star jelly. It is not frog spawn. It’s some kind of water-based thing, that has a mucous embedded in it. I have flown a helicopter into one of these Forest circles. One mystery you didn’t mention is why humans would have nose rings.

  13. sorry ?! not sure if you realized it, did it on purpose or not but there some kind of metal thing coming out of your nose ?!

  14. My father who used to work on ships abroad stated he saw those "ball lightnings" floating on the night time on their ships. It's just glowing on thin air before it disperses. He called them "santelmo" (something supernatural and similar to the Will-o'-the-wisp legend) like how we call them in our country.

  15. No way the jellies arent aliens. They only show up after a meteor and i suspect that the meteor carries cells and when on earth it becomes alive/spreads/mutates. And also the ring forests looks like something landed on the trees. Its a big circle, an alien spaceship? I wanna live on the future

  16. Crop circles are proven to not be made by people. Except for some crappy hoaxers looking for attention from time to time. Also, Scientist don't have anything better to do then get answers to scientific questions that people would like answered? Get a better writer or a more informed/smarter host

  17. Why can't a dam alien just crash on my front yard…i just want to prove to ALL religious delusional people, we are NOT special, or the only "creation"

  18. Three things science hasn't solved, 1) a way to end worldwide crime 2) ending worldwide poverty 3) ending all need for military.

  19. There' probably more we don't know about our ocean than outer space. Astronomers, Cosmologists, Physicists use math, observation, and discuss theories to unravel the secrets of space and literally nobody can answer questions about the deep ocean and that the ocean cover most of this planet, lol.

  20. The last answer doesn't make much sense to me, while I see your point, (that life could be fundamentally different than we are used to here on earth) we would still be able to observe it right? We can see microbes and bacteria which are incredibly small and invisible to the naked eye but they aren't non-physical like you seem to suggest, if the Shadow biosphere is a whole world of microbial life. Why wouldn't we be able to observe it like any other microbial life even if it operates or lives differently? Like breathing nitrogen for example, or being helium based. We would still be able to observe it. if I'm missing something someone feel free to tell me what that may be.

  21. When it comes to crop circles the hoax is some drunken fool and his buddy convincing you that they are capable of creating intricate patterns in a large number of fields in a remarkably short period of time with a string and a board when scientists have proof that the crops that are found inside the crop circle have been altered when compared to the crops outside of the circle.

  22. Oh, I got one…How did the moon lander reach escape velocity with those tiny thrusters pushing against …well nothing..(no atmosphere) with those tiny fuel tanks …given that the moons gravity is a third of earths? I can't help but notice the sheer size of the Saturn v rocket… you know comparatively.

  23. I like to think that #3 is just UNSC or Covenant star ships blowing up from battles and it’s their radio connection being terminated but carried across the explosions 👌

  24. I saw a silent lightning bolt that flashed different colors in the backyard where I lived as a kid. It lingered for like two seconds I never will forget it

  25. 1 I saw one by the shed not long after discovering that there might be a real wiccan portal there, maybe that's the case. It wasn't storming at the time.

  26. did she just say that the scientests that WE PAY are to buisy to do something we ask for good reason . whats wrong with that.

  27. Ball lightning my C0CK!! Their UFOs I've seen one that ome would claim ball lighting but this thing moves entirely intelligent and did not dicipate and on the evening of a clear day. It sensed its surroundings and navigated fluently better than I could.

  28. What about why does toilet paper n tissue paper look a bit or in some cases different under microscope ? And why r they called in different names n different work r done by them while they should be made of the same property ?!?

  29. "The years passed, mankind became stupider at a frightening rate. Some had high hopes the genetic engineering would correct this trend in evolution, but sadly the greatest minds and resources where focused on conquering hair loss and prolonging erections." – Idiocracy

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