Most nights after putting my 7 year old to bed, we have lengthy discussions about life and reality. While he spends most of his day repeating silly nonsense from Sponge Bob, at night, when the lights go out, he changes. He’s a night person, his brain shifts into high gear in the darkness and silence… just like both his parents.
Some of his questions:
- Where did everything come from?
- Why is there something instead of nothing?
- Why did the Big Bang happen?
- How long ago did the Big Bang happen?
- If we went back in a time machine and watched the Big Bang, what would it look like?
- If everything is expanding, what is it expanding into?
- Is there more than one universe?
- Is time travel possible?
- What is reality?
- Where was I before I was born?
- What was before the Big Bang?
For some of these questions, science does have an answer, and for some, it does not.
We once thought the Earth was flat and the Sun revolved around the Earth. Not that long ago many scientists adhered to the Steady State Theory that the universe had no beginning or end and was in a state of constant creation. And when I was a child science told us we were entering an ice age, while today they tell us the Earth is facing a catastrophic warming.
Sometimes the most important questions are the ones that offend the current culture.
In truth, we know little about reality, and the questions we do answer are likely to produce even more puzzling questions, but that’s no reason to quit asking questions and looking for evidence, and the closer we look the weirder reality appears to be.
I tell him, “Keep an open mind. The answers you read in books or are taught in school are what we think we know right now. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t a better explanation. Never quit asking questions and seeking answers.”
For more on the questions Science Can’t Answer Yet – check out Ten Questions Science Can’t Answer (Yet!): A Guide to Science’s Greatest Mysteries.