Ten Scientific Puzzles that I have no answers
Way back in the last century before my writing career began I used to gloss over some scientific puzzles and wonder for few minutes and move on to another attractive topic.
There was an editorial (may not be editorial but a tiny feature article)in Scientific American (Very unlikely New England Journal of Medicine, my favorite Magazine) where it listed 10 topics that baffled scientists with no true, yes or know answers.
This was well before I started pondering on philosophical questions.
In fact, I was very busy doing many things including research and daily chores, it never occurred to me that in later years in my free time I would come back to this list of puzzles.
Either I have lost the copy of this short “prose” or I did not care to copy it for future reference.
I searched all my reference material for one solid hour but did not find the list.
Instead, I found three other major acts.
One was related to Pali terminology (on tiny flash cards in my own hand writing).
The second was my Medical Fact File (Typed with a simple type writer).
The third was my slow entry to Linux domain.
No need to say that these acts dates back to pre-computer stage of my career.
Suffice is to say that it takes sometimes, six months for me to find a digital file, simply because, I do not have a simple retrieval methodology plus I have changed over12 computers due to slow progress of computer technology.
On the other hand it takes one year to find a displaced book from over 4000 books all over the place without a properly indexed library.
The bottom line is my memory is failing and more importantly I am on digital zeroing process currently.
The idea here is for the young ones to take the list of items and start investigating at leisure.
If I put the list into categories, the items were mostly on mathematical concepts, duality in biological sciences, attributes of the mind (including memory), optical illusions and psychometrics.
I probably remember three out of the ten from the old list but make up for the balance with my current interests.
I am not going to expand on the themes and leave the reader get entangled in the tangled mess.
1. Why there is sexual dimorphism?
Why not male, female and neuter (philosophically yes, no, neither yes nor no)
The subtle variation of the theme is Sexual Reproduction.
2. Why are there lefties (and righties)?Why there is preference for right or left handedness?
3. Can we work out how living things evolved?
4. Why there is left handedness of biological molecules?
L (laevo) forms instead of R (dextro) forms.
This goes closely with right and left handedness and right and left hemispheres of the brain
Mathematical puzzles I cannot remember but would have been the followings.
7. Why Pi (π) and Square Root (√ ) cannot be rounded up to full nominal numbers?
This sounds a silly expression for a mathematician but it bothers sometimes even scientists.
8. What is zero in real terms?
9 What is infinity (∞ ) in real terms?
10. Why the type writer letter setting is so bizarre?
Why we do not use a different type setting for a modern computer?
In other words the type writer is a big handicap.
It is said that aliens are using their computers telepathically!
11. Where is mind located?
12. Why humans need so many languages (religions)?
What is the reason for lack of uniformity in communication?
13. Is the God male or female?
14. Why the pope is always a male?
The last two were not in the original list but were introduced fresh to make the reader thinking of more questions.
Martin Gardner’s (mathematician) answer to the question why mathematical puzzles?
“A puzzle in a sense models what all scientists are doing,” he said. “They are trying to solve puzzles about the nature of the universe.”
Puzzles both provoke creative thinking and are a starting point for interesting research.
“Puzzles can lead you into almost every branch of mathematics,” he added.
And Martin Gardner was without parallel in being able to show how true that was.