We've learned a lot about the universe and ourselves. But what we don't know... That's infinite.

This piece is based on an AskReddit thread. Link available at the end of the article.

1/11. Our entire universe might be inside a black hole. Just saying.



2/11. Within the next 10 years, I really believe we will finish creating a polymer opto-electric interface that can restore light sensitivity in blind retinas.

In other words, we will be able to cure blindness due to retinal degeneration.


3/11. In the near future I think we will be able to store all our information not on hard drives as we do now, but on a form of DNA. This synthetic DNA will be able to store absolutely enormous amounts of data on a very small space with little to no deterioration. After all DNA can survive for millions of years!


4/11. The way people in industrialized societies have made it "normal" to delay reproduction until their thirties, after they have an established career, may lead to genetic problems in the future. This is mainly due to the fact that sperm cells are constantly dividing, and cell replication is where most mutations arise.

Some mutations are advantageous, but most are not, and these become more numerous in the sperm cells as we age.

Moreover, combined with modern medicine and nutrition, such damaging mutations are likely to stay in the gene pool as we live longer and reproduce more.

This could to a global-warming-like slow-boiling problem that will hasten the need for us to develop advanced methods to repair our own defective genes.



5/11. This is kind of out there, but I believe birth control plays a role in the high divorce rates and in the birth of children with weak immune systems.

There was a study that found women are attracted to the smell of men with dissimilar immune systems and that they felt men with similar immune systems smelled like their father or brother. Therefore not attractive.

But women on hormonal birth control did not perform well in that study...

Keep reading on the next page.

They often picked similar immune systems as more attractive.

A massive percentage of women are on birth control during their dating years, when they meet their husbands. After marriage many of those women will stop taking hormonal birth control in order to have children. What happens then?

If you have a woman who marries a man who is a poor genetic match - someone she may not have wanted to be with if she wasn't on birth control - when she goes off of her birth control...

Well, it stands to reason that her perception of her husband may change. Given that her body and personality will be going through a change while her hormones are re-regulated, her husband's view of her may change as well.


It would not surprise me if this subconscious change contributes to divorce rates. In addition, should those hypothetical people have children, the child may have a poorer immune system due to the lack of genetic variance between its parents.


6/11. I think there is a reasonable chance that, within the next 10 years, computers that analyze large bodies of data and make statistical predictions will be able to make much better routine strategic decisions at almost every layer of society than actual humans.

At some point this will likely start having a major impact on the structure of society, as there won't be all that much room for argument when the computer says that some decision is or is not optimal.


What does that mean for the future?

Keep reading on the next page.

Some current signs that point to this, for example, are the story about an automated Target marketing campaign that detected that a teenage girl was pregnant before her own father knew about it. Automated data analysis is simply better at predicting common events than real people.

Why then would a corporation rely on human executives to make decisions about acquisitions and mergers? And if a politician makes decisions by computer, why do we need the politician?

Should we still use human juries and judges when computers can determine guilt or innocence with much greater accuracy? What happens when a human jury convicts a man that the judge-o-matic predicts has a 0.0000001% chance of having actually committed the crime?



7/11. I am studying in a relatively new field of science called astrobiology (life in space) and just finished my first internship. Of all my studies, this is what caught my attention:

In 2004, the spectral signature of methane was detected in the Martian atmosphere. Because of radiation, methane is predicted to disappear from the Martian atmosphere within several years, so the gas must be actively replenished in order to maintain the present concentration.

Let's just say I suspect we're going to find life in the solar system some time in the next couple generations.



Keep reading on the next page.

8/11. There is a fringe theory regarding the origin of ADHD (ADD) that I find really fascinating and think probably has something to it. It says that ADHD, like many other "disorders" is possibly an evolutionary adaptation that certain people have which provides a pro in addition to a con.

You see, lots of (sometimes terrible) genetic disorders do have an upside. Sickle Cell Anemia patients for example, are more resistant to malaria. Cystic Fibrosis patients are more resistant to salmonella. So what would ADHD's upside be? AWESOME HUNTING ABILITIES.


In tribal hunter societies, someone with a looser attention span, who is able to react more quickly to moving stimuli would likely be the best hunter in the group, and would get showered with riches and women.

Nowadays all it gets you is frustration and medication. By the way, one of the coolest pieces of evidence for this theory, albeit anecdotal, is that kids with ADHD tend to be abnormally good at first person shooter video games.


9/11. We are going to find a biological recipe for creating self-assembled tissues from scratch.

Developmental biological processes can turn a single-celled zygote into an adult human. It's pretty damn incredible when you think about it.

Somewhere buried in the complexity of metazoan biology are a set of 'origami-like' rules that allow growing tissues to self-assemble into larger tissues and organs. If we can model and manipulate these programs with precision, we can engineer just about any tissue we like.



Keep reading on the next page.

10/11. I believe very soon (in terms of development of new treatments) that bacteriophages will replace antibiotics. Bacteriophages are essentially viruses that attack bacteria and bacteria only.

Some of you might argue, "well there's good bacteria in our digestive system, right?" True. Bacteriophages have surface proteins that work like a lock and a key, and can only combine with certain types of bacteria.

Antibiotics often cause many side effects and over the last 10 years have decreased in efficacy due to bacteria becoming resistant to the treatments.


Also, antibiotics are delivered to the bloodstream and only happen upon the bacteria. Whereas bacteriophages can reach the bacteria and take over its replication machinery and replicate exponentially (108).

Baceriophages will replace antibiotics.


11/11. I'm a neuroscientist. Paraplegia/quadriplegia are solved problems in my view. We are already very good at recognizing patterns of brainwaves and using this data to control various simple machines.

The next step is expanding the scale so that, instead of controlling a computer mouse, a paralyzed individual controls legs or arms fluidly. I believe that soon (very soon), we will be able to make this feasible for real-world application.

Beyond that, the entire field of brain machine interface is booming. It is a natural adaptation of where neuroscience is, because you simply (it is not simple, but relatively so) need to be able to recognize recurring patterns you observe when an individual thinks or does something to be able to use those patterns to control machines.

It's a fancy trick to allow "thought control" without really understanding why or how those "thoughts" exist in the first place. Very, very cool stuff.




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