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    Thread: What are your favourite simple things that science just cannot explain?

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      What are your favourite simple things that science just cannot explain?

      I'm thinking of putting together a toastmaster speech about simple things we take for granted, that science doesn't actually have a clue as to how/why it works. I don't want to talk about complicated particle physics at the brink of our studies, but rather, really simple every day things, like "yawning"... Science has no clue as to why we yawn. And I think that's kind of cool.

      What are your favourites? (these have to be observable, everyday things, not things that can be explained away like OBE, etc.)

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      gravity...but I guess that's not simple

      Also, I thought yawning was pretty well explained? Guess not.

      Dreams.

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      Yawning is used to quickly flush the lungs of old air and replace it with new oxygen rich air to give your brain a quick boost At least that what I thought

      Attraction. I know about the chemical processes and such, but why do I find certain people more attractive than other if they're both in good physical and child-baring shape?

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      Consciousness.




      Quote Originally Posted by ninja9578 View Post
      Attraction. I know about the chemical processes and such, but why do I find certain people more attractive than other if they're both in good physical and child-baring shape?
      And this. Except more generally: How is it that we can feel attraction at all?
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      As far as I know, memories are kind of a pain in the ass.

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      Magnets, yo
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      Laughter. And dreaming. And consciousness. Almost seems we know far more about the world than we know about ourselves.

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      Quote Originally Posted by ninja9578 View Post
      Yawning is used to quickly flush the lungs of old air and replace it with new oxygen rich air to give your brain a quick boost At least that what I thought
      That's definitely the popularly-held belief, but when I searched for "stuff science can't explain" yawning was always on the list. Here, read this howstuffworks article. It goes over the common theories, and also gives examples of research that indicates that it's not because of need for more oxygen.

      http://www.howstuffworks.com/question572.htm

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      Quote Originally Posted by ninja9578 View Post
      Attraction. I know about the chemical processes and such, but why do I find certain people more attractive than other if they're both in good physical and child-baring shape?
      I remember reading/hearing this study did on how certain sounds affect us. They did a whole assortment of people coughing, sneezing, snoring, throat-clearing, babies crying, etc. If you were taking the test, you were to rate the sound on an annoyance scale.

      The hypothesis was that as humans, we tend to rate sounds attributed to sickness as more annoying/intolerable. They say it's because we're predispositioned to finding (in a partner) the best genetic make-up possible so that when we have kids, the kids have better chances of surviving.

      So, people who are fit/healthy/ generally look well, are more attractive because we know that combining our genes with theirs, our kids will have a better chance of survival.

      Any one have links to journals where I could look this up? I tried doing some research before posting, and well... I'm probably just not searching properly.

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      I'm going to have to go with the already mentioned, consciousness.

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      Xei
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      Of those mentioned thus far, I think consciousness, dreams, and laughter are good. Science only has guesses at the latter at the moment, and the first is totally impossible to solve at the moment.

      The others are already practically solved. Gravity is understood in general relativity. Call me a cynic but love can largely be explained by evolution. Everybody knows how magnets work: they contain hundreds of smaller magnets inside. Just kidding, but they are understood scientifically, by Maxwell's equations largely.

      As for some of my own contributions:

      - Essentially creating a coherent theory of physics, and hence, possibly, explaining the Big Bang.
      - Melodies. Nobody knows what makes a series of intervals 'catchy' or not (i.e. you couldn't feed some notes into a computer and give it a 'hook factor'), or why we even appreciate melodies.
      - General brain function. Nobody knows how neurons do their jobs; how do networks of neurons crunch data?

      I'm sure there's more, I'll mull it over.

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      And what about memories? They don't seem to be located in a specific
      part of the brain and their nature has been bothering scientists for years.

      But the last study I have read about it was made 20 years ago, so I'm not sure here.

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      Xei
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      There's some evidence that it has something to do with the strength of synapses, but clearly that's very weak.
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      The explanations as I understand them...

      Laughter: A "re-set" reaction, alerting you and others around you that something is out of the norm in a non threatening. Why we make that silly noise called "laughter" and smile, I have no idea.

      Dreams: Nature's virtual reality. Plain and simple. Instead of sleep just being for body maintenance, the brain runs virtual simulations to help us adapt to waking life. Its your body's free time to simulate all kinds of bizarre situations to better prepare you, should they happen.

      Consciousness: From a purely evolutionary explanation...well, its an evolution. "Consciousness" as we know it helps us understand our own mortality and limitations and all that stuff. It's a product of the senses (smells, sights, etc) and helps us live and reproduce.

      Like i said, thats just some of the explanations i've gotten. Explaining consciousness is a pretty hard thing to do, i guess.
      Still can't WILD........

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      Xei
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      The problem there is that the first two are hypotheses without any evidence (and there are other contradictory hypotheses), and the third seems to confuse consciousness with self-consciousness. Evolution doesn't really help; it explains why we have various reactions to things, but bear in mind that these reactions are just movements of ions through membranes; the question is, why does it need a consciousness to be there when it seems like it should work perfectly well by itself, via the laws of physics.

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      Quote Originally Posted by Xei View Post
      the question is, why does it need a consciousness to be there when it seems like it should work perfectly well by itself, via the laws of physics.
      My best guess? Because the world isn't a completely predictable place? Because the body needs a reactive and unconventional mind which can deal with unique situations? I mean, the need for voluntary action is obvious, just as the need for involuntary action is. I don't know

      Just to clarify, we're not just talking about humans right?
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      Still can't WILD........

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      placebo

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      What about your will power to do something? science does not explain it, only you do. But it's caused by evolution so maybe no to this?

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      Where the FUCK all my left socks disappear to!!
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      (Or see the very best of my journal entries @ dreamwalkerchronicles.blogspot)

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      Xei
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      You have asymmetrical socks? :0

      *Worships*.

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      Quote Originally Posted by Xei View Post
      You have asymmetrical socks? :0
      It's a gift and a curse.
      http://i.imgur.com/Ke7qCcF.jpg
      (Or see the very best of my journal entries @ dreamwalkerchronicles.blogspot)

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      How I only see the remote control the fourth time I look under the couch.
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      The speed of light, why is it set at ~300,000 km/s.

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      DuB
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      Regarding brain function, a blog that I loosely follow recently had a guest post on a promising new method/technology for studying brains at the neuronal level. Seems relevant:
      http://ionian-enchantment.blogspot.c...e-through.html

      As for my picks, I would echo others in saying consciousness and free will. There are various things about each that are puzzling, but one that we haven't often discussed is that they both are apparently functionally useless from an evolutionary point of view. Despite the objections of some philosophers, it seems patently obvious that it's easy to conceive of this complex bunch of chemical processes we call life as occurring "in the dark," free of conscious experience, and there's apparently no way for natural selection to ever favor creatures that happen to have this inner eye. Free will faces a similar problem since natural selection should be indifferent to whether an action has occurred freely or not. Whether you killed and ate the deer because you decided to or because you were somehow compelled makes no functional difference. For these inner phenomena, the only available conclusion to be made seems to be that "we just have them," which of course is not an explanation at all.

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