PUBLISHED: 20:02 EST, 28 June 2012 | UPDATED: 02:46 EST, 29 June 2012
It is a question that has vexed mankind for centuries: Are we alone in the universe?
And according to a survey, it still tops the list of mysteries we are most desperate to see solved.
In second place was a curiosity for when a cure for cancer will be found, followed by whether it will ever be proven that God exists.
Scroll down for the answers…
Further down the chart were more down-to-earth issues such as wanting to know if the fridge light really does go off when the door is closed.
Also featured was the classic conundrum of which came first, the chicken or the egg.
The poll was carried out to mark the launch of Science Month of TV channel Eden, and found that three quarters of British adults professed an interest in science and a similar percentage wished they were better informed.
Adrian Wills, UKTV’s General Manager of Factual, said: ‘It’s been more than 500 years since the majority of people believed that the earth was flat, so it’s important to note that our understanding of science moves at an astonishing speed.
‘This survey shows that most of us still query our place in the universe and many of the bigger unsolved questions of science.
‘Eden’s Science Month attempts to answer some of these questions, though clearly there’s still much for us to learn.’
TOP TEN UNANSWERED QUESTIONS… ANSWERED
1. Are we alone in the universe?
Scientists say the universe is likely to contain many planetary systems where the conditions are ripe for intelligent life to evolve. However, we may not ever develop the technological wherewithal to reach out millions of light-years to make contact
2. Will there ever be a cure for cancer?
Survival rates for different forms of cancer are improving all the time with many exciting new treatments are in the research pipeline. While it is unlikely that there will be a magic, overnight cure in the near future, patients will live for longer and longer periods.
3. Does God exist?
There is no empirical, measurable scientific evidence for the existence of God.
4. How big is space?
Some astronomers believe there is no limit to the size of the universe. Others say that since the Big Bang it has expanded to around 150 billion light years across.
5. How and where did life start on earth?
There have been numerous theories, from various bacteria entering into symbiotic relationships to convection currents passing through the Earth’s crust.
6. Is time travel possible?
The fabric of space time contains shortcuts called wormholes which make time travel theoretically possible. However, wormholes are unstable and to prop one open would require repulsive gravity, the existence of which has yet to be confirmed.
7. Will we ever colonise space?
Maybe. Some say we should take a serious look at creating colonies elsewhere in our solar system in case conditions on Earth become inhospitable. NASA has already held meetings on terraforming – the deliberate modification of the conditions on other planets or moons to make them similar to those on Earth.
8. What will replace oil and when?
Alternative energy sources are available but need to be made more cost efficient and reach demands in order to replace oil. There are however advances in nanotechnology that may be the answer.
9. How will the universe end?
Theories include that the universe will stop expanding and then collapse in on itself, that it will get colder as it expands until it is at absolute zero, and that dark energy, will eventually overcome gravity.
10. How long can the human lifespan be extended?
Life-span extension experiments in mice have convinced some scientists that humans may soon routinely live way beyond their hundredth birthdays.