Ever since I was a kid, space has always fascinated me. Everything about it. Astronauts flying through it and actually walking on the moon. Planets with their own orbiting moons, orbiting suns. The brilliance of supernovas, of which the most powerful one discovered is 570 billion times brighter than the sun. Black holes with gravitational pulls so strong, not even light can escape. Stop and think about that for a moment. Light cannot escape due to gravity. That alone is mind-blowing.
Crab Nebula, as seen by Herschel and Hubble. Photo c/o Nasa
But for me, the most mind-blowing aspect of space is whether it is infinite or finite. As a ten-year-old, I used to lie on the hill in front of our house, stare up at the sky, and wonder. How can space be infinite? How can it not have a beginning or end? There must be something beyond space, right? But if it is finite, with an end, then what comes after it? Over the years, those questions continued to run through my head.
And what are today’s scientists saying? Like me, they don’t know, either.
Many think that if you could keep going out into space as far as you wanted, you would just keep going forever, passing galaxy after galaxy. Meaning space is infinite.
Some think space wraps back around on itself, like a globe. So, if you started out from earth and flew in one direction, eventually you will return to earth from the opposite direction. Meaning space is finite but without a beginning or end.
Consequently, with both theories, space has no end. Or does it?
Every time I ponder these questions about space, it gets my brain tied up in knots. That’s because everything in our own lives is finite. Except maybe for Pi. Even time is finite since each of us is mortal. So, I got to thinking, what other questions are out there that warp the brain?
A quick Internet search revealed several lists of mind-blowing questions, including the classic: What came first? The chicken or the egg?
Below is a list of just a few thought-provoking and/or mind-bending questions that are out there, in no particular order. A few of these are mine, and the others I found during my search. Some are more serious than others, but all are fun to think about.
- When did time begin? And if there was a beginning, what was before time?
- If the Big Bang Theory is correct, and not the TV show, what existed before the Big Bang?
- Did we invent math, or discover it?
- What age should a person be considered old enough to die of old age?
- The universe is expanding, but does that mean it is finite? Because if not, how can something infinite continue to expand?
- Is the “S” or “C” silent in the word Scent?
- The only time the word “incorrectly” is spelled correctly is when it is spelled incorrectly. Although this isn’t a question, I think it’s pretty fun.
- Where does the word “pineapple” come from? It is not remotely an apple or a pine.
- If Cinderella’s shoe fit perfectly, then why did it fall off when she ran from the ball?
- Why do noses run, and feet smell?
- Why is it called a nonstop flight when it stops at least once? The implication is the flight goes on forever.
- Why are things typed up, but written down?
- If you have fun while wasting time, is it really wasting time?
- If everything is possible, could it be possible that something is impossible?
- If you fail on purpose, have you actually succeeded?
- Why do we call it a hamburger if it is made from a cow?
- Is the speed of darkness as fast as the speed of light?
- How can something be both new and improved? Isn’t it one or the other?
- Why does a tomato have 7,000 more genes than a human?
- What does the inside of a black hole look like?
Computer-simulated image c/o Nasa shows a supermassive black hole at the core of a galaxy.
- Are you really awake, or dreaming? There was a short story titled “The Circular Ruins” by the great Jorge Luis Borges that touched on a similar concept.
- Since time is a human construct, does it really exist?
- If two wrongs don’t make a right, why in math do two negatives make a positive?
- If prunes are dried plums, where does prune juice come from?
- Is your answer to this question, no? Gotcha!
- Is it crazy how saying sentences backwards creates backwards sentences saying how crazy it is? (NOTE – if you don’t get this, look closer.)
- Why does February have 28 days, yet other months have 31? Why couldn’t a few days be taken from the 31-day months and given to February to make it 30 days?
- If you stand behind a clock so its back is facing you, is it still going clockwise?
- If the early bird catches the worm, why do good things come to those who wait?
- Is the color orange based on the fruit, or is the fruit named after the color?
- How can a “slim chance” and a “fat chance” mean the same thing?
- Did Noah have woodpeckers on the ark? If so, where did he keep them?
- If you expect the unexpected, doesn’t that make the unexpected expected?
- Who came up with the alphabetical order for the English language and why that order?
- Was there ever a time when nothing existed, or has something always existed?
- How far east do you have to go before you start going west?
- When does it go from being partly sunny to partly cloudy?
- If you had a dream that none of your dreams would come true, and you woke up and none of your real-life dreams came true, would that be a dream come true?
- If you hate haters, what does that mean about you?
- If the Fountain of Youth can make you immortal, can you drown in it?
Enjoy your holiday filled month, and I’ll see you in 2022.