Regis Nicoll provides an interesting roundup of issues on which some scientists, often in the public eye, are beginning to wonder:
In a rare, unguarded moment, physicist Lawrence Krauss confided, “I worry whether we’ve come to the limits of empirical science.”
It’s not clear, actually, whether unguarded moments in Larry Krauss’s life are all that rare. See this story, for example.
But in this case, he is not alone.
Betraying their lingering angst about the future of science, physicists at a recent conference identified a number of other unsolved mysteries they suggest are keeping them up at nights, including:
What are dark energy and dark matter?
In 1929 Edwin Hubble discovered redshifts in the light emissions from stars, indicating that the universe was not static, but expanding. Nearly seventy years later, light spectra measurements of supernovae indicated that the universe is not only expanding, but also accelerating! Mystified by this unknown cosmic power source, physicists dubbed it “dark energy.” Subsequent measurements revealed that dark energy accounts for 70 percent of all the stuff in the universe.
What’s more, gravitational anomalies observed in stellar objects indicated a sizeable source of invisible (“dark”) matter affecting their movements. When “dark matter” is added to dark energy, it turns out that dark stuff makes up 95 percent of the cosmos. But what it is, no one knows; the answer remains elusive. For that reason, a number of leading physicists, including Krauss, have called it the biggest mystery in physics. More.
Is it possible that physicists have made as many breakthroughs as possible within current assumptions, and another Einstein is needed? Another Max Planck?