Dealing with Unexplained Sci-fact
Despite the advances in science there are a lot of mysteries still to be solved. Why do the fast moving clouds at the poles of Jupiter seemingly go round corners? Actually, that little mystery from my time at University may well have been solved - so esoteric is the answer that there is no mention of it on the internet.
When dealing with the many aspects of alien worlds, life and physics within the game, there are often instances where investigations raise questions to which there is currently no known answer but the topic does not fall into the realms of handwavium. As such we have to give what we consider to be realistic answers while still skirting the issue. I don't know enough about metastatic diseases to explain in graphic detail how they may affect an aqueous lifeform that has evolved on a world with above average background radiation. I am also somewhat fuzzy on the lithification process of impact induced organic molecules located on an asteroid at the end of the system. It doesn't stop a bunch of boldly exploring starship crew from raising the questions and expecting solid answers!
I once queried author Peter Hamilton on this issue - particularly as I noticed that he dedicated more than a few pages to explaining some of the sci-fi technology he introduced in his works and I wondered how he dealt with unexplained science that should be understood even if not mainstream by the time of his settings.
His response was particularly to my liking though something of a cop-out in that he said he only explained enough to move the story along. This works well for him as there are no follow-up investigations requesting specific information regarding a throwaway statement such as the 'methane rains left a dark slush on the windows' - what sort of slush, why dark, what molecules cause the colour change, what are the energy changes involved - is it adiabatic?
There is a constant need to have google close to hand as well as a broad though sometimes shallow understanding of all things science. This can however lead to tropism where goofing up on a subject causes a leaning towards sub-subjects and before I realise that I may be going too far it I am deep in a morass of chemical properties, their reactions to ultraviolet light at low temperatures in order to understand stability of planetary atmospheres consisting largely of halogens in a system dominated by a GV main-sequence dwarf star. Yet all the player wanted to know was can the stuff be exploited for basic elements... Not that any of this has ever helped win a pub quiz.