Unexplained Science: What Scientists Still Don’t Understand

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Duration 01:00:07

New York University

Matthew Stanley teaches the history and philosophy of science at NYU. He holds degrees in astronomy, religion, physics, and the history of science and is interested in the connections between science and the wider culture. He has held fellowships at the British Academy, and the Max Planck Institute, and was recently awarded the NYU Distinguished Teaching Award. Professor Stanley is the author of Einstein’s War: How Relativity Triumphed Amid the Vicious Nationalism of World War I.



Scientists like to talk more about what they know than what they don’t know – things they are sure about rather than the mysteries. Hundreds of years of discoveries and insights are good reasons for this. But it is the unknowns at the edge of science that drive some of the most exciting research being done today. We do not know if we are alone in the universe, what the nature of consciousness is, where life came from, or why you are made of protons and electrons.

Those persistent mysteries and things we don’t understand, rather than causing us to question science, can help us understand how science works. They can help us ask deeper questions about unexplained science, how we know what we know, and why there are some things we don’t.




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Albert Tobin

Big Bang and Entropy

Dear Dr Stanley,
You made some interesting connections between the laws of physics and time and entropy. I was wondering if you think that one possible explanation of the fact the Big Bang emerged from nothing could be that entropy is the only physical property that grows from nothing into something as the Universe expanded into something – creating space itself. It is also consistent that entropy is a measure of the dissipation of energy from an intense source which is consistent with the expansion of the Universe. The 2nd Law applies to the Universe as a whole and perhaps entropy saves us.
Be very interested in your thoughts on this.
Al Tobin
[email protected]

3 years ago


It was a good summary and review of the unknowns, delivered in an interesting and understanding way.

5 months ago
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