11 Strange theories & hypothesis that will Challenge your Mind

A theory in simple words is a reflective and rational generalization of thinking. On the other hand, a hypothesis is a proposed explanation for any given phenomenon. Both are equally important for the development of a discipline. But things just does not end here, theories and hypothesis are a subject of regular scrutiny. Due to advanced and modern technologies available today, many popular and influential theories in the past are now debunked. Today, we are introducing a strange list of amusing theories and hypothesis.

11. Fecund universes theory

Lee Smolin, a professor of physics at the Univerity of Waterloo proposed his hypothesis of cosmological natural selection also known as the fecund universes theory. In his of book ‘The Life of the Cosmos’, he suggests that the process of biological natural selection applies at the grandest of stages.

In his theory he advocates that the Black holes have a major role in natural selection of the universe. According to his theory, every collapsing black hole causes the emergence of a new universe. The theory contains the evolutionary model of “reproduction” and “mutation” of universes.

Read: 10 Biggest Unsolved Mysteries in Physics

10. Bostrom’s trilemma

Bostrom's trilemma

Sure, most of us watched the Matrix series at least once. So what do you think about living in a world of simulation where the simulants are us, totally unaware of the present simulation world. In 2003, Nick Bostrom proposed “the simulation argument” also known as Bostrom’s trilemma. Bostrom’s trilemma does not directly states that we live in any simulation or so, instead one of these three below mentioned propositions must be true:

  1. The human species is very likely to go extinct before reaching a “posthuman” stage;
  2. Any posthuman civilization is extremely unlikely to run a significant number of simulations of their evolutionary history (or variations thereof);
  3. We are almost certainly living in a computer simulation.

With the help of anthropic reasoning he claims that, if the third proposition is the true, and almost every person experiences simulation, then we are certainly living in one. Bostrom also claims that his argument goes beyond the concept of “skeptical hypothesis” and is actually a “metaphysical hypothesis”.

Many philosophers disagree on this with the argument – “Sims” do not have conscious experiences the same way that unsimulated humans do, or it can otherwise be self-evident to a human that he is a human rather than a Sim.

Unrelated to this theory, the recent cosmic calculation also indicated that universe as we know is really a gigantic computer simulation.

9. Tabula rasa

Tabula rasa is a Latin phrase for “black slate”. The concept of tabula rasa can be traced back to the ancient writings of Aristotle. Tabula rasa or black slate refers to the epistemological concept, which states, individuals are born without the built-in mental content, thus all the knowledge comes from later experience or perception.

The advocates of this theory generally disagree with the doctrine of Innatism which supports the fact that the mind is born already in possession of a certain amount of knowledge. Evidence against the tabula rasa model comes from behavioral genetics. Various studies indicate that strong genetic characteristics influence personal traits.

8. Martian Canals

martian canal

A network of long straight lines in the equatorial regions from 60°N to 60°S on the surface of planet Mars were first described by the Italian astronomer Giovanni Schiaparelli in 1877. There was a common belief that the planet Mars has water Canal.

Many people went as far as to propose the idea that the canals were built by a supposed intelligent civilization on Mars for irrigation purposes. But the myth was busted open by the early 20th century when improved astronomical observations revealed the “canals” to be just an optical illusion.

7. Tetrahedral hypothesis

Tetrahedral_hypothesis

Over the time, many scientists have attempted to solve the mystery behind the origin of the continents and ocean basin. Lowthian Green was one of the first scientists who tried to solve the problem using the fundamental principle of geometry. His hypothesis was based on the characteristics of a tetrahedron which is a solid body having four equal plane surfaces, each of which is an equilateral triangle.

He proposed that our Earth is not a sphere rather it is a tetrahedron. After many experiments he opined that a sphere if subjected to uniform pressure on all its sides would be transformed into the shape of a tetrahedron. According to him, differential cooling of earth’s inner and outer part and faster rate of cooling of the crust, it collapsed on the inner part and ultimately gave rise to tetrahydron.

Read: 28 Gripping Facts About Gravity

6. Luminiferous aether

Luminiferous aether

According to ancient science, aether is the material that fills the universe above the terrestrial sphere. In the 19th century, scientists postulated that aether spread all through the space, providing a medium through which light could travel in a vacuum, the theory is generally known as Luminiferous aether.

The concept remained the topic of considerable debate throughout the 19th and 20th century, as it advocates the existence of an invisible and infinite material with no interaction with physical objects. As further studies were done to understand the nature of light, in the 19th century, the theory and the physical qualities required of the aether became increasingly contradictory.

The first strong evidence against the prevalent aether theory was the Michelson-Morley experiment. The experiment was initiated to detect the relative motion of matter through the stable luminiferous aether by comparing the speed of light in perpendicular directions.

5. Cold fusion

Cold fusion

Nuclear fusion is understood to only occur at temperatures in millions of degrees. But in 1989, electrochemists Martin Fleischmann and Stanley Pons claimed that the nuclear fusions might be possible at much lower temperatures. Their findings did not only have scientific implication, but commercial possibilities too.

To further investigate their hypothesis, they conducted electrolysis experiments using a palladium cathode and heavy water into a calorimeter (an insulated vessel designed to measure process heat). Many scientists tried to replicate the results, but ended up with negative results. The hype was finally settled down with the discovery of experimental errors and flaws in the original experiment. During 1989, it even gained a reputation as pathological science.

4. Stress theory of ulcers

ulcers

As Peptic ulcers became more common in the 20th century, doctors and physicians became surer to the fact that stress and depression are the only reason behind the ulcers.  Although, there was a little amount of evidence that stress might cause high acid levels in the stomach, it did not give a sound scientific explanation of the occurrence of ulcers.

Against the notion, in 1982, Barry Marshall and Robin Warren claimed that the ulcers are caused by bacterial presence in the human gut. Doctors and scientists largely rejected this claim by saying that any bacteria cannot live in the acidic environment of the stomach. In 2005, they both were awarded by the Nobel Prize for their discovery of bacterium Helicobactor pylori and its role in peptic ulcers.

3. Phlogiston

Phlogiston

The phlogiston is an overthrown scientific theory that postulated that a fire-like element called phlogiston or terra pinguis is contained within any combustible bodies and released during combustion. It was first stated by Johann Joachim Becher as early as 1667 and later supported by Georg Ernst Stahl.

In his book ‘Physica subterranea’, Becher mentioned the four classical elements, replacing fire, water, and air by terra lapidea, terra fluida, and terra pinguis. He believed that the terra pinguis was a key feature of combustion and released when combustible elements were burned.

But it was Georg Ernst Stahl, a follower of Becher who renamed terra pinguis to phlogiston. Phlogiston remained the dominant theory until the 1780s, until Antoine-Laurent Lavoisier showed that combustion requires a gas (oxygen) with weight.

Read: 13 Very Interesting Questions with their Answers

2. Tolman’s paradox

Tolman & EinsteinRichard C. Tolman and Albert Einstein at Caltech in 1932

In 1907, Albert Einstein presented a thought experiment on how faster-than-light signals can lead to a paradox of causality, known as “to telegraph into the past”(Einstein and Sommerfeld). Almost after 10 years in 1917, Richard Chace Tolman introduced the same experiment with a hypothetical device, which later known as the tachyonic antitelephone. A tachyonic particle is a hypothetical particle that moves faster than light, no such particle exist even theoretically in the standard model of particle physics.

To understand this paradox we first have to understand its variations.

One-way example:

Suppose a distance with endpoints A and B. Let a signal sent from A towards B with velocity α. The equation for the arrival at point B:

Here, the event at point A cause the proceedings at B.  According to the Lorentz transformation

If we can show that a>c, then certain values of v can put the value of t’ negative.

Another variation of this experiment is to send signals back to the sender.

Two way example:

Suppose point ‘A’ is on a spacecraft moving away from the earth in the x direction with speed v. Now ‘A’ wants to send a message to ‘B’ back at earth. Let us assume the origin of the coordinates of ‘B’ reference frame ‘ ’{\displaystyle S} to coincide with the reception of ‘A’ signal to ‘B’. If B immediately sends a signal back to A then the coordinates of the reply signal will be:

which means, point ‘A’ will receive the message back even before it sends the signal to ‘B’ at the first place isn’t it crazy?

1. Theory of Recycled Universe

In 2010, Roger Penrose of the University of Oxford along with Vahe Gurzadyan of Yerevan State University in Armenia, reported possible evidence of an earlier universe existing before the Big Bang of our present universe. Their observation was based on concentric circles found in the Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Prove (WMAP) data sent from the space.

They argued that the earth we are currently living in is a result of an endless series of big bangs. To support their claim they pointed out the temperature fluctuation in the concentric circles WMAP data of Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB) spectrum. He suggests fluctuations were generated by collisions between supermassive black holes in an earlier eon, which gave off an intense burst of energy.

Read: 11 Biggest Unsolved Mysteries in Physics

The energy would radiate outward in a uniform sphere of gravitational waves, which would leave circles on the CMB when they entered the current epoch we live in. But, recent studies show that those rings are just a feature of the standard model and it is not of any importance.

Written by
Varun Kumar

Varun Kumar is a professional science and technology journalist and a big fan of AI, machines, and space exploration. He received a Master's degree in computer science from Indraprastha University. To find out about his latest projects, feel free to directly email him at [email protected] 

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