Scientists: The people of Reddit have some questions for you

Science has given the world a lot, from knowledge that solar eclipses are not universe threatening events to cures for any number of diseases.

But there’s a lot it’s still unable to explain – real head-scratchers like how pigeons always manage to make their way home.

Pigeons fly above a mist covered lake in Sefton Park
(Peter Byrne/PA)

The good people of reddit have been posing queries that science so far hasn’t answered, with the pigeon question the highest rated.

“Scientists have tested to see if it is visual, scent-guided, magnetic… yet the pigeons find their way home while being blindfolded and more. They are remarkable birds, and apparently even a little bit mysterious,” allthecats wrote.

Pigeons have been used throughout human history to carry messages between places because of an uncanny ability to find their way home.

Homing pigeons and other migratory birds are thought to use the earth’s magnetic fields to navigate, but despite a number of theories – including one regarding inner ear activation and another to do with a “mental map” – scientists still can’t explain how. It’s a mystery.

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Another of the almost 3,000 comments, to do with the placebo effect, sparked a pretty meta exchange.

“The placebo effect works even when the person knows it’s a placebo,” Wafflecakeandbacon wrote.

“Here’s the craziest part: Even if your comment isn’t true, from now on the placebo-effect will always work on me (even if I know it’s just a placebo-effect) – simply because I believe your comment to be true,” Trimalchi0 replied.

And that’s not the only one liable to make your head hurt. There were various questions about how anything and everything came into existence.

LeftTwixIsBetter wrote: “Whether the universe was nothing, and then became something, or if it’s in an infinite loop, meaning it has happened an infinite amount of times and will create and destroy itself for another infinite amount of times.”

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Plzupvoteme, meanwhile, wondered more about organisms.

“All cells come from other cells and all organisms have evolved from single cell organisms, but what about the first single cell organism?” they wrote.

Most scientists would currently agree that living cells can only have come from two places – spontaneous creation, i.e random chemical processes, or supernatural creation, aka God.

Others were a little less serious.

Swayzaur wanted to know “why a sandwich always tastes better when it’s made by somebody other than yourself”, which is in itself not necessarily confirmed.

A woman eating a sandwich
(guruXOOX/Getty Images)

Some people felt the question was disingenuous, and that there’s nothing that science can’t explain.

“Science is a method. Any observable phenomena can be explained using the scientific method,” Jalapeno2257 wrote.

“It just so happens that doing so becomes elusive. Inferring causality is tricky in the best of circumstances, and lots of things are still unobservable due to human limitations.

“Just to be amply clear: the scientific method can be used to answer any question that is answerable to begin with. It just so happens that humans are limited. It isn’t science that can’t answer things; it’s us.”

Well, that told everyone else.


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