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Content Guidelinesplugin-autotooltip__plain plugin-autotooltip_bigContent guidelines

Ideas for new topics are always welcomed, from experts and non-experts alike - if you're not sure if they'll be accepted by other editors, put them in the 'proposed_content' section for approval. The easiest way to create a new page is to use the

Registrationplugin-autotooltip__plain plugin-autotooltip_bigRegistration

At present, only registered users can create and edit articles. The registration process is very straightforward. Just click the 'Register' link at the top right of any page.

After you've registered, you'll be able to login with your password at any time…

How to edit pagesplugin-autotooltip__plain plugin-autotooltip_bigEditing pages

Once you're logged in, a grey floating 'Tool' menu at the right hand side of the screen enables access to all the main 'Content Pages' for editing. (Note: Some pages, such as the site info etc. are locked)

Like most Wikis, the site doesn't use

Importance Ratingsplugin-autotooltip__plain plugin-autotooltip_bigImportance ratings

In a departure from the usual Wiki format, Wikenigma assigns 'Importance Ratings' to some the page pages.

The idea is to separate articles which are considered (by the editors) to cover exceptionally important unknown issues from those which (althou…

Faqplugin-autotooltip__plain plugin-autotooltip_bigFrequently Asked Questions

Q. Why the weird syntax? A. Like most Wikis, the site doesn't use HTML for formatting (security reasons etc). A guide to the special syntax can be found here. Unfortunately it can be quite confusing at first - but there's now a new 'Visual …

Newsplugin-autotooltip__plain plugin-autotooltip_bigNews

[ newest at the top ]

• Aug 2020 : Currently (beta) testing the new 'WYSIWYG' (What You See Is What You Get) page editor. It greatly simplifies the editing process, avoiding the need to learn the Wiki syntax. (Note: it's currently not 100% stable)

Contactsplugin-autotooltip__plain plugin-autotooltip_bigContacts

Use this form to send a message to Wikenigma . . . [ * note: all fields must be completed ]

Legalplugin-autotooltip__plain plugin-autotooltip_bigLegal

• Content in general

Please note that in common with other publicly editable wikis, this website is not responsible for content posted by the public. Nevertheless, the ongoing editing process should be able to remove unsuitable content in a reasonable time. If y…


492 unknowns listed

Wikenigma supports:

plugin-autotooltip__plain plugin-autotooltip_bigDonate to Wikenigma . . .

The best way to donate is by adding new original content !

That can either be by contributing to an existing article, or by creating a new page with an as-yet-unlisted 'Known Unknown'.

Any registered user can create content.

rss / xml feed

sitemap file

Wikenigma - an Encyclopedia of Unknowns Wikenigma - an Encyclopedia of the Unknown Wikenigma - an Encyclopaedia of Unknowns Wikenigma - an Encyclopaedia of the Unknown

Importance ratings

In a departure from the usual Wiki format, Wikenigma assigns 'Importance Ratings' to some the page pages.

The idea is to separate articles which are considered (by the editors) to cover exceptionally important unknown issues from those which (although also unknown) are probably not so important. For example, the fact that no-one knows how Yardangsplugin-autotooltip__plain plugin-autotooltip_bigYardangs

Yardangs are enigmatic wind-parallel ridges found in arid environments. They often form downwind of rocks in sandy environments. They can be unusually stable structures, given their sandy / dusty composition, and the fact that the wind which forms them can al…
form wouldn't normally be considered as important as the fact that no-one understands what causes Diabetesplugin-autotooltip__plain plugin-autotooltip_bigDiabetes (type 1)

Type 1 Diabetes is a chronic disease that occurs either when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin or when the body cannot effectively use the insulin it produces. Insulin is a hormone required for the body to regulate and use blood sugar.
.

If a page doesn't have a rating, that doesn't mean it's unimportant - but that some other articles maybe more important (or, it hasn't been rated yet).

The tables below show links to all the articles which have been given Importance Ratings (alphabetical order)

4 Stars

  • Ageingplugin-autotooltip__plain plugin-autotooltip_bigEvolution of ageing

    Evolutionary scientists have been trying to form a consolidated theory of ageing since the 1890's.

    "Enquiry into the evolution of ageing aims to explain why a detrimental process such as ageing would evolve, and why there is so much variability in…
  • Alcoholplugin-autotooltip__plain plugin-autotooltip_bigAlcohol intoxication

    "Despite the fact that alcohol has been used and misused for hundreds of years, the mechanism of action of this simple molecule remains the subject of study. Alcohol use results in diverse behavioral effects, including intoxication, cognitive impa…
  • Antimatterplugin-autotooltip__plain plugin-autotooltip_bigThe Antimatter Problem

    According to Big Bang Theory, matter and antimatter should have been created in equal amounts.

    It's currently estimated, however, that :

    "“The Standard Model prediction for the ratio of baryons over antibaryons deviates from the a…
  • Conciousnessplugin-autotooltip__plain plugin-autotooltip_bigConsciousness

    Does an ant carrying a piece of leaf across the forest floor ‘know’ it’s doing so? Is it conscious? If science could construct a machine as complex as the human brain, would it ‘know’ it existed? Will it oneday be possible to explain consciousness via the…
  • Dark Energyplugin-autotooltip__plain plugin-autotooltip_bigDark Energy

    "“The observational results of the latest 15 to 20 years have established a standard model for the cosmology which has some amazing consequences. A mysterious entity, the dark energy, has been confirmed as the dominant component of the Universe, and is als…
  • Dark Matterplugin-autotooltip__plain plugin-autotooltip_bigDark Matter

    "“The nature of the dominant component of galaxies and clusters remains unknown.” "

    Source: Measuring the dark matter equation of state (Mon. Not. R. Astron. Soc. 415, L74–L77)

    In the 1930s, astronomical observations of galaxy rotations showed that the o…
  • Entanglementplugin-autotooltip__plain plugin-autotooltip_bigQuantum entanglement

    Quantun Entanglement was first predicted by Albert Einstein, Boris Podolsky, and Nathan Rosen in 1935.

    It has now been (unequivocally) experimentally demonstrated with photons, neutrinos, electrons, and even molecules such as buckyballs and small…
  • Enzyme Catalysisplugin-autotooltip__plain plugin-autotooltip_bigEnzyme catalysis

    Almost all metabolic processes in living cells need enzyme catalysis in order to proceed at rates fast enough to sustain life. Although enzyme processes have been investigated for many years, and more than 5000 have been identified, the extreme complex…
  • Gamma Ray Burstsplugin-autotooltip__plain plugin-autotooltip_bigGamma-ray bursts

    Gamma-ray bursts, which were first discovered by satellites originally intended to scan for nuclear weapon detonations, probably have multiple sources. They range from bursts of ten milliseconds to several hours, and also have differing energy levels.
  • Gen Anaestheticsplugin-autotooltip__plain plugin-autotooltip_bigGeneral Anaesthetics

    A general anaesthetic is a drug that brings about a reversible loss of consciousness. In formal use since 1842 - with the first public demonstration of ether to carry out surgery. (Though it's likely that alcohol, another chemical classed as an an…
  • Gravityplugin-autotooltip__plain plugin-autotooltip_bigGravity

    Although three of the four (known) fundamental forces have been unified by one paradigm called the Standard Model, Gravity remains outside.

    Like General Relativity, Gravity appears, so far, not to fit. This doesn't necessarily mean that Standard Model
  • Homochiralityplugin-autotooltip__plain plugin-autotooltip_bigHomochirality

    "“Symmetry is a fundamental aspect of nature. For example, certain molecules exist in two forms which are symmetrical mirror images of each other. They are called chiral molecules. Common chemical synthesis generally produces equal amounts of the two for…
  • Intelligenceplugin-autotooltip__plain plugin-autotooltip_bigIntelligence

    "“Numerous definitions of and hypotheses about intelligence have been proposed since before the twentieth century, with no consensus reached by scholars.” - source wikipedia "

    Despite the lack of an agreed definition, tests of IQ (Intelligence Quotients…
  • Life-definitionplugin-autotooltip__plain plugin-autotooltip_bigDefining Life

    There isn’t, as yet, any definition of a 'lifeform' which can withstand logical scrutiny.

    Exceptions can easily be found for any definition so far presented. For example (from The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language
  • Massplugin-autotooltip__plain plugin-autotooltip_bigMass

    All physical objects have ‘mass’. The mass is (largely) a consequence of the additions of the masses of the atomic and subatomic particles from which the objects are comprised. Theorists currently support the idea of mass-creation via the
  • Memoryplugin-autotooltip__plain plugin-autotooltip_bigMemory

    On a macro scale, neuroscientists now know (more or less) where memories are 'stored' in the human brain. The hippocampus, the amygdala, the striatum and the mammillary bodies (for example) are known to be involved in some way, because individuals who suffer da…
  • Methane Cycleplugin-autotooltip__plain plugin-autotooltip_bigGlobal Atmospheric Methane Cycle

    Methane is roughly 30 times more potent as a Greenhouse Gas than CO2. Over the last 30 years, the measured levels in the atmosphere have been steadily rising, - maintaining a clearly defined seasonal cycle. 1900 parts per billion (ppb) …
  • Numerical Cognitionplugin-autotooltip__plain plugin-autotooltip_bigNumerical cognition

    Many animals have demonstrated abilities to count numbers - i.e. Numerical Cognition. This fits in with evolutionary theory in the sense that it could be advantageous for an animal to understand (small) numbers when involved in feeding, threat situa…
  • Oxygen Processplugin-autotooltip__plain plugin-autotooltip_bigOxygen Evolving Process (EVP)

    "Photosynthetic oxygen evolution is the fundamental process by which oxygen is generated in earth's biosphere. The reaction is part of the light-dependent reactions of photosynthesis in cyanobacteria and the chloroplasts of green algae an…
  • Photosynthesisplugin-autotooltip__plain plugin-autotooltip_bigPhotosynthesis

    "“Photosynthetic water splitting (or oxygen evolution) is one of the most important reactions on the planet, since it is the source of nearly all the atmosphere's oxygen [...] The mechanism of water oxidation is still not fully elucidated, but we know m…
  • Prime Numbersplugin-autotooltip__plain plugin-autotooltip_bigPrime Numbers

    Since all other whole numbers (except 0) can be produced by multiplying together primes – they must be considered fundamental.

    (1), 2, 3, 5, 7, 11, 13, 17, 19, 23, 29, 31 &etc

    Although billions of them have so far been found (nowadays via computationa…
  • Proton Hoppingplugin-autotooltip__plain plugin-autotooltip_bigProton Hopping

    Proton hopping - a.k.a. the Grotthuss Mechanism has been said to be “the fastest known chemical reaction”. The effects of which were first noted by Theodor Grotthuss in 1805, who was investigating the decomposition of water under electrolysis.

    In the pr…
  • Quantum Mechanicsplugin-autotooltip__plain plugin-autotooltip_bigQuantum mechanics

    This is a general note about the yet-to-be-understood complexities of quantum theory :

    Here are some 20th century quotes from eminent scientists regarding its extreme counter-intuitiveness :

    • “Those who are not shocked when they first come across q…
  • Quarksplugin-autotooltip__plain plugin-autotooltip_bigQuarks

    Following theoretical calculations, particle accelerator experiments in the 1970s confirmed that quarks are responsible for forming the nuclear particles - protons and neutrons.

    Six 'flavours' of quark have now been identified. (ref.) Suggesting the obvious …
  • Random Numbersplugin-autotooltip__plain plugin-autotooltip_bigRandom numbers

    "“We can never decide for sure that a number is random, but what we can do is apply an increasing number of tests and treat our sequence of numbers as innocent until proved guilty.”"

    Source Colva Roney-Dougal, Senior Lecturer in Pure Mathematics at the…
  • Schrodinger Equationplugin-autotooltip__plain plugin-autotooltip_bigSchrödinger equation paradox

    Quote from Professor Roger Penrose speaking on BBC Radio 4 'Start the week - A Theory of Everything? 20th June 2016.

    "“There is a deep paradox in quantum mechanics, it's a contradiction, and it's hardly ever pointed out as a contradictio…
  • Sea Level Risesplugin-autotooltip__plain plugin-autotooltip_bigSea level rises

    Climate change, along with the associated ice-shelf melting, contributes to sea level rise. However, the calculations linking the temperature records with ice melt leave an unexplained 12 cm/century rise in the actual levels - as measured around the wor…
  • Thoughtplugin-autotooltip__plain plugin-autotooltip_bigThought

    It seems clear that thoughts involve brain-neurones, because damage to (or a reduction in the number of) neurones makes rational thought more difficult. But, like memory, the exact physical and/or biological micro-mechanisms which lead to the formation of ‘tho…
  • Time Awarenessplugin-autotooltip__plain plugin-autotooltip_bigTime Awareness

    "“Anticipating events that will happen in the future is among the most important functions the brain performs. Indeed, it has been increasingly stressed that learning and memory are prospective brain functions; that is, they are only adaptive to the ext…
  • Times Arrowplugin-autotooltip__plain plugin-autotooltip_bigArrow of Time

    A term coined in 1927 by the British astronomer Arthur Eddington to describe the “one-way direction” or “asymmetry” of time.

    For most people, the notion that time passes only in one direction is a given. There are multiple reasons for taking this point …
  • Universe Shapeplugin-autotooltip__plain plugin-autotooltip_bigUniverse shape and size

    The 'Observable Universe' is limited by the speed of light and the length of time that it has been in existence. It's possible that the 'Observable Universe' is the real size, or, because light has a finite speed, there may be more universe 'out…
  • Vacuum Energyplugin-autotooltip__plain plugin-autotooltip_bigVacuum energy

    Quantum physics, and the widely accepted and experimentally tested Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle implies that no 'vacuum' can be truly empty. At all times, innumerable quantised 'virtual particles' must be coming into existence and then disappearing.…
  • Water Clustersplugin-autotooltip__plain plugin-autotooltip_bigWater clusters

    Water has a long list of 'anomalous' physical (and chemical) properties (list here). Most are now fairly well understood - but there is currently no overall model to explain all of its unusual properties.

    One anomaly is the existence and prevalence of s…

3 Stars

  • Autismplugin-autotooltip__plain plugin-autotooltip_bigAutism

    Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by impaired social interaction, verbal and non-verbal communication, and restricted and repetitive behavior. Parents usually notice signs in the first two years of their child's life. These signs often develo…
  • Cable Bacteriaplugin-autotooltip__plain plugin-autotooltip_bigCable Bacteria

    Cable bacteria are filamentous bacteria, found in aqueous sediments, which form chains that conduct electricity. They transfer electrons across distances over 1cm (possibly more) in sediment and groundwater aquifers. They enable the reduction of oxygen a…
  • Carotid Bodyplugin-autotooltip__plain plugin-autotooltip_bigCarotid Body Mechanism

    The level of oxygen present in mammalian blood - critical for survival - is controlled by a complex feedback system triggering more or less breathing, alterations in blood pressure etc.. It's dependent on 'sensors', one primary sensor is called t…
  • Chaos Theoryplugin-autotooltip__plain plugin-autotooltip_bigChaos Theory

    Chaos theory is the concept that the behaviour of some complex dynamical systems (e.g. global weather patterns) can be extremely sensitive to tiny changes in initial conditions — making long-term predictions about the system impossible.
  • Chillsplugin-autotooltip__plain plugin-autotooltip_bigChills

    Note: This item refers to the emotionally or imaginatively triggered sensation of 'Frisson' rather than shiver reactions caused by cold or fever etc.

    "“‘Chills’ (frisson manifested as goose bumps or shivers) have been used in an increasing number of studies as…
  • Cloud Ice Formationplugin-autotooltip__plain plugin-autotooltip_bigCloud ice formation

    The formation of ice crystals have important implications for stratospheric ozone chemistry, cloud dynamics, rock weathering, and hydrate formation etc., however the exact mechanisms by which microscopic particulate matter 'seeds' ice-crystals are u…
  • Core Clockplugin-autotooltip__plain plugin-autotooltip_bigCore Clock

    In humans, and most [all?] other mammals, the 'Core Clock' which regulates variations in body functions is set to (approximately) 24 hours. This is the so-called Circadian Rhythm. - which in many organisms, is synchronised via daylight.

    The clock is regul…
  • Cosmic Raysplugin-autotooltip__plain plugin-autotooltip_bigCosmic rays

    "“Cosmic rays are typically protons or atomic nuclei of elements such as helium, carbon, or iron. The most energetic have energies more than 10 million times greater than those in the world’s most powerful atom smasher, the Large Hadron Collider. Physicist…
  • Cosmological Constantplugin-autotooltip__plain plugin-autotooltip_bigCosmological Constant Problem

    The cosmological constant problem is the disagreement in 'measured' values of the cosmological constant and theoretical calculations of its value. The cosmological constant was first proposed by Einstein as a mathematical necessity to rati…
  • Cryingplugin-autotooltip__plain plugin-autotooltip_bigCrying

    Crying is the shedding of tears (or welling of tears in the eyes) in response to an emotional state - as distinct from non-emotional 'lacrimation' which is the medical term for non-emotional shedding of tears (e.g. in response to peeling onions).
  • Crystallizationplugin-autotooltip__plain plugin-autotooltip_bigCrystallization

    Crystallization is the (natural or artificial) process by which a solid forms from solution, where the atoms or molecules are highly organized into a structure. Some aspects of the process, particularly nucleation have still not been completely describe…
  • Depressionplugin-autotooltip__plain plugin-autotooltip_bigMajor Depressive Disorder

    Major depressive disorder (MDD), also known simply as depression, is a mental disorder characterized by at least two weeks of pervasive low mood.

    Current estimates are that severe depression affects around 2% of the global population at any g…
  • Diabetesplugin-autotooltip__plain plugin-autotooltip_bigDiabetes (type 1)

    Type 1 Diabetes is a chronic disease that occurs either when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin or when the body cannot effectively use the insulin it produces. Insulin is a hormone required for the body to regulate and use blood sugar.
  • Exosomesplugin-autotooltip__plain plugin-autotooltip_bigExosomes

    Exosomes (a.k.a. extracellular vesicles - EVs) are small protected packets of extracellular RNA that are produced on the cell membrane of most eukaryotic cells. They can separate from the cell wall and travel freely in any bodily fluid. They have been found in…
  • Flagellaplugin-autotooltip__plain plugin-autotooltip_bigFlagella

    A flagellum is a lash-like movable appendage that protrudes from the cell body of many bacteria and some eukaryotic cells. Including notable examples in plants (e.g. fern spores) and even mammals (e.g. sperm cells). The primary function of a flagellum is for m…
  • Fluoxetineplugin-autotooltip__plain plugin-autotooltip_bigFluoxetine

    Trade names Prozac™, Sarafem™, Fontex™ etc.

    Fluoxetine is a Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor (SSRI) used in the treatment of major depression, OCD etc.

    SSRIs are believed to act by inhibiting the reuptake of serotonin after being released in the br…
  • Foetal Immunityplugin-autotooltip__plain plugin-autotooltip_bigImmune tolerance in pregnancy

    "“... the mechanisms responsible for the paradoxical survival of the conceptus as an intra-uterine allograft within the immunologically competent genetically alien female host.” "

    source (Journal of reproductive immunology)
  • Genesplugin-autotooltip__plain plugin-autotooltip_bigGenes

    The vast majority of human DNA lies outside of the genes within the cells. Of this, recent work has discovered that 85% of these stretches of DNA appear to make RNA - which, for the most part, has yet-to-be-determined functions.

    A study published in the online j…
  • Gravitotropismplugin-autotooltip__plain plugin-autotooltip_bigGravity sensing in plants

    Specialist cells (Statocytes) in plants are able to sense gravity. Thus shooting tips grow upwards contrary to the Earth's gravitational field, while roots grow downwards.

    Statoliths are dense amyloplasts, organelles that synthesize and store…
  • Heavy Elementsplugin-autotooltip__plain plugin-autotooltip_bigOrigin of the heavier elements

    Since Big Bang Theory doesn't provide an explanation for the origin of the heavier elements which make up most of the Earth and the life on it - many cosmological theorists contend that they may have instead formed in supernovae explosion…
  • Ibsplugin-autotooltip__plain plugin-autotooltip_bigIrritable bowel syndrome [ IBS ]

    "“The most common condition seen in gastrointestinal outpatient clinics is irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), which has a prevalence rate of 14-24% in women and 5-19% in men. [...] There is no known structural or anatomical explanation th…
  • Instinctplugin-autotooltip__plain plugin-autotooltip_bigInstinct and Inheritance

    Complex behaviour patterns can be learned, but (it appears that) they can also be inherited.

    Example 1 The female Common Cuckoo (Cuculus canorus) is a 'brood parasitic' in that it lays its eggs in the nests of other birds. This can't be a 'l…
  • Intergalactic Starsplugin-autotooltip__plain plugin-autotooltip_bigIntergalactic stars

    Until 1997 it was assumed that all stars belong to galaxy clusters. In other words 'bound' by the gravitational field of a galaxy.

    It is now confirmed that there are very many stars which are totally independent of any galaxy. More than 600 have be…
  • Jupiter Heatingplugin-autotooltip__plain plugin-autotooltip_bigJupiter - atmospheric heating

    The low to mid-latitudes of Jupiter's atmosphere have been found to have a temperature of around 800ºK - which is 600ºK warmer than can be accounted for by solar heating. The apparent anomaly was discovered in the mid 1970's
  • Magnetic Monopolesplugin-autotooltip__plain plugin-autotooltip_bigMagnetic monopoles

    A magnetic monopole is a (possibly hypothetical) elementary particle in the form of an isolated magnet with only one magnetic pole (a north pole without a south pole or vice versa). Another way of saying a particle with a 'magnetic charge' (somewhat…
  • Meissner Corpusclesplugin-autotooltip__plain plugin-autotooltip_bigMeissner corpuscles

    "“The Meissner corpuscle, a mechanosensory end organ, was discovered more than 165 years ago and has since been found in the glabrous skin of all mammals, including that on human fingertips. Although prominently featured in textbooks, the function …
  • Memory Declineplugin-autotooltip__plain plugin-autotooltip_bigAge-related memory decline

    "Normal aging is associated with a decline in various memory abilities in many cognitive tasks; the phenomenon is known as age-related memory impairment (AMI) or age-associated memory impairment (AAMI). The ability to encode new memories of …
  • Menopauseplugin-autotooltip__plain plugin-autotooltip_bigMenopause

    Although the various physical causes of the menopause are well documented (see Wikipedia), from an evolutionary perspective the reasons for its prevalence in humans are unknown -(only two other mammals are known to exhibit menopause, see note below.)
  • Microbiome Interactionsplugin-autotooltip__plain plugin-autotooltip_bigMicrobiome interactions

    "“The human gut harbors trillions of invisible microbial inhabitants, referred to as the microbiota, that collectively produce thousands of unique small molecules. The sources and biological functions of the vast majority of these molecules are…
  • Migraineplugin-autotooltip__plain plugin-autotooltip_bigMigraine

    "“Chronic migraine has a great detrimental influence on a patient’s life, with a severe impact on socioeconomic functioning and quality of life. Chronic migraine affects 1–2% of the general population, and about 8% of patients with migraine; it usually develo…
  • Musical Appreciationplugin-autotooltip__plain plugin-autotooltip_bigMusical appreciation

    Music psychologists seek to understand the processes that support musical behaviours - including perception, comprehension, memory, attention, emotional effects, and performance.

    Many decades of extensive research has investigated :
  • Neural Networksplugin-autotooltip__plain plugin-autotooltip_bigNeural Networks

    "“Multilayer neural networks are among the most powerful models in machine learning, yet the fundamental reasons for this success defy mathematical understanding.” Source Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences, 2018"

    'Artificial Intelligence' (AI…
  • Neutrino Massplugin-autotooltip__plain plugin-autotooltip_bigNeutrino mass

    New research has found that the neutrino has a non-zero mass - but this requires a modification to the Standard Model of particle physics. The non-zero mass also means that neutrinos cannot travel at light-speed as photons do.

    "“Although neutrinos were …
  • Number Of Speciesplugin-autotooltip__plain plugin-autotooltip_bigNumber of species

    "“We demonstrate that after more than six decades, estimates of global species richness have failed to converge, remain highly uncertain, and in many cases, are logically inconsistent.” Source: Authors Caley, Fisher and Mengersen writing in a 2014…
  • Parkinsonsplugin-autotooltip__plain plugin-autotooltip_bigParkinson's disease

    Also known as Parkinson disease, Parkinson's, idiopathic parkinsonism, primary parkinsonism, PD, or paralysis agitans - is a degenerative disorder of the central nervous system resulting from the death of dopamine-containing cells in the
  • Placeboplugin-autotooltip__plain plugin-autotooltip_bigPlacebo effect

    Placebos (originally developed as an inert 'control' substance for medical trials) are faux medications and procedures which researchers assumed could not possibly have any medical effect. They are now being taken seriously as treatments, after it was s…
  • Protein Structuringplugin-autotooltip__plain plugin-autotooltip_bigProtein structuring

    Genes set the order that amino acids - the chemical building blocks of proteins - appear in the proteins which they code for. But (working from the gene) the form which the protein's 3-D structure will take cannot as yet be predicted. The extremely …
  • Radioactive Decayplugin-autotooltip__plain plugin-autotooltip_bigRadioactive decay

    Note: This item is one of a special case - Known Unknowables

    Radioactive decay is the process by which the nucleus of an unstable atom loses energy by emitting 'radiation' - which can be in the form of alpha particles, beta particles, gamma rays or …
  • Raindropsplugin-autotooltip__plain plugin-autotooltip_bigRaindrop formation

    "“When [an] ascending parcel of moist air reaches the condensation level, the initial mist of small, micron-size water droplets is formed, which are suspended in the air."

    "In the super-saturated environment water droplets grow due to condensation…
  • Rheumatoid Arthritisplugin-autotooltip__plain plugin-autotooltip_bigRheumatoid Arthritis

    Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) is a chronic severe inflammatory disease believed to affect around 1% of the global population. It primarily affects joints, typically resulting in warm, swollen, and painful joints. Pain and stiffness often worsen followi…
  • Schizophreniaplugin-autotooltip__plain plugin-autotooltip_bigSchizophrenia

    "“Schizophrenia is a mental disorder characterized by abnormal social behavior and failure to understand what is real. Common symptoms include false beliefs, unclear or confused thinking, auditory and visual hallucinations, reduced social engagement and …
  • Sexual Reproductionplugin-autotooltip__plain plugin-autotooltip_bigSexual reproduction

    "“The maintenance of sexual reproduction in a highly competitive world has long been one of the major mysteries of biology given that asexual reproduction can reproduce much more quickly as 50% of offspring in sexual reproduction are males, unable …
  • Sleepplugin-autotooltip__plain plugin-autotooltip_bigSleep

    "“The purposes and mechanisms of sleep are only partially clear and are the subject of intense research” Source Wikipedia"

    Although extensive research in humans and animals has shown unequivocally that sleep is essential, the reasons why it is required are as y…
  • Solar Cycleplugin-autotooltip__plain plugin-autotooltip_bigSolar Cycle

    Scientists started to make records of sunspot activity in the mid 18th century, and by the mid 19th it was discovered that the number of spots (which are lower-temperature entry-and-exit points for magnetic flux lines penetrating the Sun's surface) varies o…
  • Static Electricityplugin-autotooltip__plain plugin-autotooltip_bigStatic electricity

    Static electricity has been investigated for more than 2 thousand years however, explanations of the physical mechanisms behind the phenomenon are still under dispute.

    (The term 'electricity' comes from ἤλεκτρον [ ēlektron ] meaning 'amber' - which …
  • Supersymmetryplugin-autotooltip__plain plugin-autotooltip_bigSupersymmetry (SUSY)

    Supersymmetry (colloquially known as SUSY) is a principle that proposes that each Boson atomic particle (e.g. photons) has a corresponding Fermion particle (e.g. electrons), and vice versa. If such particles were found to exist, several mathematica…
  • Thermoregulationplugin-autotooltip__plain plugin-autotooltip_bigThermoregulation

    "“The core temperature of a human is regulated and stabilized primarily by the hypothalamus, a region of the brain linking the endocrine system to the nervous system, and more specifically by the anterior hypothalamic nucleus and the adjacent preoptic…
  • Tornadosplugin-autotooltip__plain plugin-autotooltip_bigTornados

    Descriptions of the atmospheric mechanisms which cause tornados to form ('tornadogenesis') are currently unclear. Similar problems exist in full explanations of dust-devils, waterspouts, landspouts and hurricanes. Currently available computer models (such as V…
  • Ultratrace Elementsplugin-autotooltip__plain plugin-autotooltip_bigUltratrace elements

    Ultratrace elements are chemical elements, derived from diet, which appear to play significant - and sometimes essential - biological roles in animals, including humans.

    They typically comprise less than one microgram per gram of a given organism (…
  • Universe Expansionplugin-autotooltip__plain plugin-autotooltip_bigExpansion of the universe

    Note: This item is one of a special case - Known Unknowables

    Expansion of the universe

    Current cosmological theory, backed up by many diverse observations, suggests that the universe is not only expanding, but that the speed of expansion is accelerating
  • Virus Originsplugin-autotooltip__plain plugin-autotooltip_bigThe origins of viruses

    The evolutionary origins of viruses is disputed. Although they don't leave a fossil record it's known that they are ancient (c. 4.5 billion years old). It's not known, however, whether they evolved from cellular lifeforms, or

2 Stars

  • Amoeboid Movementplugin-autotooltip__plain plugin-autotooltip_bigAmoeboid movement

    Amoeboid locomotion is the usual mode of movement in (adherent) eukaryotic cells, e.g. amoebas, slime moulds, leukocytes and sarcomas etc etc. It also features in biological processes such as embryonic development, wound healing, and cancer metastasi…
  • Bicycle Dynamicsplugin-autotooltip__plain plugin-autotooltip_bigBicycle dynamics

    Riderless bicycles (hand launched) tend to self-stabilise whilst in forward motion.

    videos here

    The physics behind this stability is 'poorly understood'. Various theories have been put forward - including front-wheel spin angular momentum (gyroscopic…
  • Coronal Heatingplugin-autotooltip__plain plugin-autotooltip_bigCoronal heating problem

    The Sun's corona is millions of degrees Kelvin hotter than the main body of the Sun (reaching temperatures of up to 10 MK). A number of possible mechanisms have been proposed to explain why. They include:

    - fast and slow magneto-acoustic body …
  • Ht Superconductivityplugin-autotooltip__plain plugin-autotooltip_bigHigh Temperature Superconductivity

    The first high-temperature superconductor was discovered in 1986 by IBM researchers Karl Müller and Johannes Bednorz, for which they were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1987. Since then many other materials with even higher sup…
  • Jupiter Radio Auroraplugin-autotooltip__plain plugin-autotooltip_bigJupiter - radio aurora

    Chance observations in 1955 logged strong radio frequency oscillations from Jupiter between the Kilometric (1000s metres) and Decametric (10s metres) wavebands. NASA's Juno spacecraft scanned Jupiter in late 2016 and made recordings of the emissi…
  • Melanin Protectionplugin-autotooltip__plain plugin-autotooltip_bigMelanin and UV protection

    In general, people with darker skin tones (i.e. with more melanin) are less likely to suffer from UV-induced skin cancers.

    "It has been traditionally believed that skin pigmentation is the most important photoprotective factor, since melanin…
  • Oil And Coalplugin-autotooltip__plain plugin-autotooltip_bigOrigins of Oil, Gas, and Coal

    "“[...] it is now generally accepted, but not conclusively proven, that petroleum formation predominantly arises from the decay of organic matter in the earth. [...] alternative theories should not be dismissed until it can be conclusivel…
  • Paracetamolplugin-autotooltip__plain plugin-autotooltip_bigParacetamol

    One of the most widely prescribed drugs in history works by mechanisms which have not yet been agreed upon by the medical establishment. It‘s believed that paracetamol acts via more than one neurological pathway, one of which may be by inhibiting the COX-3 …
  • Protein Knottingplugin-autotooltip__plain plugin-autotooltip_bigProtein Knotting

    Note: This article is an extension of the Protein Folding Problem

    "“Knotting in proteins was once considered exceedingly rare. However, systematic analyses of solved protein structures over the last two decades have demonstrated the existence of man…
  • Psychedelic Drugsplugin-autotooltip__plain plugin-autotooltip_bigPsychedelic drugs

    Psychedelics are a hallucinogenic class of psychoactive drug which have the primary effect of triggering non-ordinary states of consciousness and psychedelic experiences.

    Many of the known psychedelic substances have been found to bind to and activat…
  • Rhythm Perceptionplugin-autotooltip__plain plugin-autotooltip_bigRhythm perception

    Humans (and some other animals) have a sense of 'rhythm', i.e. the ability to detect and react with 'beats' - normally in musical compositions. Professional drummers can 'beat time' with accuracies of just a few milliseconds per beat
  • Solar Flaresplugin-autotooltip__plain plugin-autotooltip_bigSolar flares

    The first solar flare to be formally documented was recorded by astronomer Richard Carrington, who observed a 'white light' flare in September 1859 - projecting the image produced by an optical telescope, without filters. source

    However, the mechanisms pr…
  • Sonoluminescenceplugin-autotooltip__plain plugin-autotooltip_bigSonoluminescence

    Sonoluminescence is the emission of short bursts of light from imploding bubbles in a liquid when excited by sound. Discovered in 1934 during sonar experiments at the University of Cologne. Light emissions are the result of the ultra-high temperatures …
  • Vitamin Cplugin-autotooltip__plain plugin-autotooltip_bigVitamin C deficits

    Humans, some non-human primates, guinea pigs, bats, capybara and some birds and fish have lost the ability to synthesize vitamin C - apparently due to a gene mutation defect. Because vitamin C is required for a range of essential metabolic reactions,…

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  • Bee Colony Collapseplugin-autotooltip__plain plugin-autotooltip_bigBee Colony Collapse Disorder [ CCD ]

    "“Colony collapse disorder (CCD) is the phenomenon that occurs when the majority of worker bees in a colony disappear and leave behind a queen, plenty of food and a few nurse bees to care for the remaining immature bees and the que…
  • Cell Sizeplugin-autotooltip__plain plugin-autotooltip_bigCell size

    A detailed explanation of the factors which regulate cell size (i.e. the size to which cells grow) has not yet been found. Since (most) cells stop growing when they reach a specific size, there must be some feedback mechanism to restrict growth beyond that po…
  • Cetacean Strandingsplugin-autotooltip__plain plugin-autotooltip_bigCetacean strandings

    It's currently estimated that around 2,000 whales and dolphins are stranded each year. The majority of strandings result in death. Only about ten cetacean species frequently display mass beachings, with ten more rarely doing so.
  • Domsplugin-autotooltip__plain plugin-autotooltip_bigDelayed onset muscle soreness

    Delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) is the pain and stiffness felt in muscles some time after unaccustomed or strenuous exercise. The soreness usually increases in intensity in the first 24 hours after exercise, and peaks from 24 to 72 ho…
  • Geobatteriesplugin-autotooltip__plain plugin-autotooltip_bigGeobatteries

    Geobatteries, i.e. measurable electrical differences [ also known as 'Self Potential' anomalies (SP) ] are widespread in naturally occurring geological formations. There have been several proposals to explain how they might come about - it's likely that t…
  • Persistent Luminescenceplugin-autotooltip__plain plugin-autotooltip_bigPersistent luminescence

    Persistent luminescence is the phenomenon found in materials which glow in the dark after the end of an excitation with UV or visible light. There are a number of such materials, routinely used in toys, watch dials, luminous paints, safety signs…
  • Pyramids Constructionplugin-autotooltip__plain plugin-autotooltip_bigThe Pyramids - construction

    Construction engineers and archaeologists have not been able to agree on ways in which the Great Pyramids of Giza (and others) might have been constructed - at around 2580–2560 BC.

    "“The logistics involved in the construction of this pyram…
  • Triboluminescent Tapeplugin-autotooltip__plain plugin-autotooltip_bigTriboluminescent tape

    When rolls of transparent adhesive tape are peeled, the relative motion between the two separating surfaces can produce electromagnetic radiation - an example of triboluminescence.

    It can be seen as visible light, but the peeling action can also …
  • Venous Thrombosisplugin-autotooltip__plain plugin-autotooltip_bigVenous Thrombosis

    Venous Thrombosis - blood clots which from in veins (as opposed to arteries) - are relatively common and potentially very dangerous (e.g. DVT).

    Although it's firmly established that three factors (hypercoagulability, hemodynamic changes and endothe…


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