The March 19 issue of New Scientist Magazine reports on mysteries that continue to baffle scientists. These include cosmic rays, dark matter and the placebo effect. Will researchers find the solutions to these puzzles in 2006?
The placebo effect means that if you THINK you are taking an effective medication or treatment, it is often just as effective as taking the real thing?and with no side effects! Side effects are one of the biggest problems in medicine. This is obviously one way that shamans have traditionally healed, using methods?such as chanting or sand paintings?that modern physicians know cannot work (yet they often do).
Prayer may work the same way, except that controlled studies have shown that patients who are prayed for often get well faster than those who aren't?even if they don't know they are being prayed for.
Another mystery is homeopathy?medical remedies that are so diluted that just a few molecules of the original substance remain?and yet they work. This could be due to the mysterious placebo effect.
Another puzzle is cosmic rays that can't exist. Physicists in Japan have been measuring these for over a decade. Cosmic rays are protons (particles of light) that travel through the universe close to the speed of light. Some of them are produced by exploding stars, but scientists don't know what causes them all. However, Japanese scientists have detected cosmic rays that can only come from inside our own galaxy?which is impossible.
Dark matter is something else that can't exist?but it does. Galaxies should all be disintegrating, but somehow they don't. Astronomers think that dark matter is the "glue" that holds them together, except they can't find any of it.
Art credit: http://www.freeimages.co.uk
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