• Question: what is the hardest science question you have ever had

    Asked by anon-249569 on 2 Mar 2020. This question was also asked by anon-249574, anon-249577, anon-249578, anon-249579.
    • Photo: Sarah Carter

      Sarah Carter answered on 2 Mar 2020:

      Chemistry, as a discipline. I am a scientist, but I am definitely not a chemist. 🙂

    • Photo: Paige Chandler

      Paige Chandler answered on 2 Mar 2020:

      Hi there,

      I would agree with Sarah Carter – chemistry is very tricky in my opinion. I struggled most with organic chemistry.

    • Photo: Andrea Kusec

      Andrea Kusec answered on 2 Mar 2020:

      One of the hardest science question I’ve ever had is probably “Do cognition and emotion exist separately or together, and how would you prove this?” – I think it would take a long time to have enough evidence to have a definite answer to this question!

    • Photo: Nuru Noor

      Nuru Noor answered on 2 Mar 2020:

      I guess the hardest questions I have ever asked or been asked are the ones where there is no answer…not yet anyway.

      This is one of the really cool things about science and medical research – if you can think of a question without an answer (and there are lots of them) – then you can work with really cool people to find the answer and hopefully help improve quality of life and care for people with medical conditions 👍

    • Photo: Katrina Wesencraft

      Katrina Wesencraft answered on 2 Mar 2020:

      This makes me think of a weird exam question my class got asked. In my first year at university, we learnt that the first vaccine was against a disease called smallpox. It was made by taking scabs from a cow that had a similar disease called cowpox. In our exam, we were asked what the cow was called! I thought it was a hard question because we weren’t told that in class (apparently her name was Blossom the cow and she was really famous!)

    • Photo: Ioana Grigoras

      Ioana Grigoras answered on 2 Mar 2020:

      During a fair, someone asked me “Why does the brain have two hemispheres?”. I still have no idea.

    • Photo: Sarah Brown

      Sarah Brown answered on 2 Mar 2020:

      Even though I’m a mathematician I would say that some maths questions are the hardest science questions that I’ve ever had! Sometimes when you’re doing research, maths questions like these don’t actually have an answer! 🤔 We still need to prove that there is no answer though – which can be very tricky.

    • Photo: Sarah Clarke

      Sarah Clarke answered on 2 Mar 2020:

      I can’t remember an exact question, but it will almost certainly be a physics question… I was always better at chemistry and biology!

    • Photo: Lotte de Winde

      Lotte de Winde answered on 3 Mar 2020:

      I can’t recall an exact question, but I did not understand physics at secondary school, and I still don’t! But I have learned that this is fine, and that you can’t like and know everything. When I get a question about my research from another scientist and I don’t know the question, I always say this. It doesn’t matter if you don’t know something. I see it as an opportunity to learn something, so I write the question down and search for the answer.

    • Photo: M S

      M S answered on 3 Mar 2020:

      Physics.I think physics questions always confuse me!

    • Photo: Nathan James

      Nathan James answered on 3 Mar 2020:

      It depends on whether you mean the hardest exam question or the hardest research question. I always found biology exams tricky because it’s so difficult to guess the kind of answers that the examiners want. And at degree level, there’s simply not enough time to revise the endless list of random facts!
      In research, we try to make our questions as simple as possible. This is because it’s so difficult to test them with experiments! There are many big, difficult questions that need answers (How do cells organize their internal structures? How do they correct mistakes? How do they measure their own size, or the time of day?), but we have to break these down into lots of smaller, easier questions!

    • Photo: Sophie Arthur

      Sophie Arthur answered on 4 Mar 2020:

      Because my PhD research used embryonic stem cells I would often get asked tricky questions like “should we really be using embryos for research” and “do you think using embryos is immoral in research”

    • Photo: Chun Hei Kwok

      Chun Hei Kwok answered on 4 Mar 2020:

      “There are only two ways in which humankind can produce knowledge: through passive observation or through active experiment.” To what extent do you agree with this statement?

      This was quite philosophical in my opinion, and got me to write a long essay for that…

      Do any of you have thoughts on this question?

    • Photo: Kate Mitchell

      Kate Mitchell answered on 4 Mar 2020:

      Understanding why some countries/groups get HIV more than others

    • Photo: Nathan Kindred

      Nathan Kindred answered on 4 Mar 2020:

      Probably any physics question, I don’t understand any of it!

    • Photo: Robyn Kiy

      Robyn Kiy answered on 6 Mar 2020:

      I can’t think of a specific question, but it probably involved maths!

    • Photo: Samir Hopestone

      Samir Hopestone answered on 6 Mar 2020:

      I find chemistry and physics very difficult!