The We-Don’t-know facts of the universe part l

by Asifur Rahman Khan

ino01Questions are the natural consequence of curiousity. Ever since childhood, questions unravelled the reality around us. A child might ask pointing at a star, ‘Dad, what’s that?’, while a scientist might look at the same star and ask, ‘What is making this star move away from us?’. The same object can give different people with different knowledge level different answers and different insights. But there are some questions that have perplexed both the child and the scientists, even though the subject in question is in plain sight. These questions give rise to the mysteries that confounds the mind, and so, to confound our readers even more, I have listed down some one of the shortest list of mysterious questions that has still confounded all of mankind.

Nazca lines
What would you possibly think if you were flying over Southern Peru and you see giant drawings of birds, fish, llamas, jaguars, monkeys, and human figures, some as big as 200 metres across, drawn on the desert floor?
These drawings are only visible from the sky which scholars believe were created by the Nazca culture between 500 BC and 500 AD. Why would an ancient civilisation draw figures such as these that only made sense from the sky? How did they draw the figures considering you need an aerial view to be accurate? No one has yet stumbled on to the answers.

Voynich manuscript
new04The Voynich manuscript is an illustrated codex hand-written in an unknown writing system. The vellum in the book pages has been carbon-dated to the early 15th century, and may have been composed in Northern Italy during the Italian Renaissance.
Some of the pages are missing, but about 240 remain, with the text written from left to right. A series of paragraphs over the course of 240 pages accompanied by illustrations and diagrams, broken into what appear to be six distinct sections. The sections appear to describe different topics of herbal, astronomical, biological, cosmological, and pharmaceutical nature.
What is so remarkable about the manuscript, then? Well, It’s written in a language unknown to man, and has evaded all attempts to decipher its contents to this day. The manuscript has been studied by many professional and amateur cryptographers, including American and British code breakers from both World War I and World War II. No one has yet succeeded in deciphering the text, and it has become a famous case in the history of cryptography.

The Right-Hand enigma
Nine out of 10 people are right-handed. More mysterious than the dearth of southpaws is the fact that humans have dominant hands in the first place. Why just one hand with top-notch motor skills, instead of a double dose of dexterity?
One theory holds that handedness results from having more intricate wiring on the side of the brain involved in speech (which also requires fine motor skills). Because the speech center usually sits in the left brain hemisphere — the side wired to the right side of the body — the right hand ends up dominant in most people. However, this theory gets a big blow from the fact that not all right-handed people control speech in the left hemisphere, while half of lefties do. Perplexing.

The Anti-Matter shortage
In the first few moments of the universe, enormous amounts of both matter and anti-matter were created, and then moments later combined and annihilated generating the energy that drove the expansion of the Universe. But for some reason, there was an infinitesimal amount more matter than anti matter.
Everything that we see today was that tiny fraction of matter that remained. But why? Why was there more matter than antimatter right after the Big Bang? Scientists have theorised many different explanations, from different decay rates of B-mesons and anti-B-mesons to parallel universes, but no one has yet cracked this mystery.
The writer is an advertiser who, between building brands and playing football, searches and travels the world to explore the unexplored. To close down more doors of ignorance, reach him at asif.r.khan@gmail.com. 

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