From the magzine, Shift: A restlessness is brewing in science. Unexpected discoveries in many scientific disciplines are shaking previously held assumptions. One commonality among these discoveries is that observations once believed to be meaningless, or mere anomalies, are being reconsidered. In the process, new revelations are surfacing about the nature of reality. A few examples will serve to illustrate the rising tension.
Cosmologists have learned that we might have accidentally overlooked 96% of the universe. The missing preponderance of the universe is dubbed “dark” matter and energy, and we know next to nothing about it. Neuroscience dogma used to assert that neurons in the brain do not regenerate, and that mental functioning inevitably deteriorates when there is a brain injury or as neurons die in the course of aging. Now, new data are revealing that brain neurons do, in fact, regenerate. The brain is much more plastic than previously imagined. In the borderlands between physics and chemistry, researchers are re-examining claims of cold fusion after 15 years in the deep freeze. Successful replications from laboratories around the world continue to suggest that unexpected effects, possibly nuclear fusion, really do occur in supposedly impossible ways. Have the prejudices of hot fusion researchers, who have spent billions of dollars in a still-vain attempt to build controllable fusion reactors, deflected attention from this anomaly? In physics, the idea of entanglement–the quantum theory prediction that under certain circumstances particles that appear to be isolated are actually instantaneously connected through space and time-is not only known to be demonstrably real, but is far more pervasive and robust than anyone had imagined even a few years ago. Devising new forms of entanglement has become a central focus in the accelerating race towards developing practical quantum computers.