Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson shares some of the big questions astronomers are working to answer:
We can measure the influence of this thing we call dark energy which is forcing an acceleration of the expanding universe. We don’t know what that is, we don’t know anything about it, other than what it’s doing to the universe.
Then 85 percent of the gravity of the universe has a point of origin about which we know nothing. We account for all the matter and energy that we’re familiar with, measure up how much gravity it should have, it’s about one-sixth of the gravity that’s actually operating on the universe. We call that dark matter, but what we should call it is “dark gravity.” We don’t know what that is either.
We don’t know how [Earth] went from inanimate organic molecules to self-replicating life. We got top people working on that as well.
We don’t know what was around before the universe. We don’t know what is at the center of a black hole. We don’t know whether or not the universe is actually one of many in a multiverse. We want to know if there’s life thriving in under ice oceans of Jupiter’s moon Europa.
… But my favorite question is one that we don’t even know to ask yet because it’s a question that would arise upon answering these questions I just delivered to you. … If you’re a scientist and you have to have an answer, even in the absence of data, you’re not going to be a good scientist.
photo via NASA