In case you hadn’t noticed there is a petition brewing – Science Is Vital. The arguments against cutting the science budget are well made, and there is a rally planned next Saturday. Volume of public protest does matter : sign up.
Amongst other things, the web site stresses that science is not so much a fixed body of knowledge but an incomplete project. What don’t we know ? As a postgrad I was inspired by Ginzburg’s “Key Problems in Astrophysics”. I can’t promise to be that good, but here is my personal pick of Top Ten Big Problems. Probably on the obvious side. I’d love to hear your vote.
- Why is the Universe accelerating ?
- What is the dark matter ?
- Why did the Universe start in such a low entropy state ?
- Why are galaxy formation and quasar formation so closely linked ?
- Are Earth-like planets normal or weird ?
- Does the Oort cloud really exist ?
- How is the solar corona heated ? (Time this one went…)
- Where did Life originate ?
- What causes gamma ray bursts ?
- How do relativistic jets form (Time this one went..)
Next up, some practical issues related to Astronomy
- Can we predict CMEs ?
- Can we find all the potentially dangerous NEOs ?
And some niggly worries
- Why are quasar metallicities the same at all redshifts ?
- Supernova models must surely be right, but don’t work (I hear).
- Quasar accretion disc models must surely be right, but don’t work.
- How come the star formation radio-FIR relation is so constant ? Too good to be true.
I note that the niggling worries are closer to home for me. Probably there are lots of others I just don’t know about ….