10 of the World’s Most Puzzling Mysteries

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We live on a small green planet spinning in a mysterious universe, part of a complex and subtle eco-system that we do not yet fully understand. Science has progressed at breakneck speed in the last hundred years and our knowledge of how our world works and our place in it increases every day but even now there is much that science cannot explain. Like the things listed here, for example. These are all, arguably, phenomena of the natural world rather than man-made although in some cases there is doubt even about that. Will we ever be able to unravel these mysteries ? Perhaps, but right now we’re not even sure in some cases what the questions are.

The Taos Hum

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(image via: whatgirl)

The Taos Hum is perhaps the best-known among a series of phenomena involving a persistent and invasive low-frequency humming not audible to all people. These noises have been reported all over the world but never adequately explained. Some suggest they are paranormal or that they may be the sound of the universe expanding. Others think they are cases of collective delusion. Strangely, the most sensitive acoustic devices , far more sensitive than the human ear, typically fail to detect the humming. Sometimes, of course, a logical reason can be found. The ‘Kokomo Hum’ in Kokomo, Indiana, for example, turned out to be coming from a Chrysler plant but elsewhere these strange ‘hums’ remain a mystery.

Crop Circles

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(image via: sliceofscifi)

Crop circles have been reported in nearly every country on Earth. Plain round crop circles first began to be reported back in the 1970s but within the next couple of decades more intricate and complex designs were being found. Believers suggest they might be a form of communication from extraterrestrials or from the earth itself. Others think they may be caused by freak wind and weather conditions. Some can be explained away as man-made hoaxes but not all. Those who say they are natural phenomena point to several peculiarities found in the affected crops, such as woven stalks and cellular changes in the grain. There have also been reports of strange phenomena being experienced by researchers examining the circles, such as unexplained equipment failures and strange sounds.

Bigfoot

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‘Bigfoot’ is a large, hairy, apelike creature that supposedly roams the woods of the Pacific Northwest of America and Canada. The Native American word for these creatures is ‘Sasquatch’. They are said to be 6–10 feet tall, weigh in excess of 500 pounds and are covered in dark brown or reddish hair. Alleged witnesses have described large eyes, a pronounced ape-like brow-ridge and a large, low-set forehead. The top of the head is rounded and crested, similar to male gorillas. The huge footprints, from which the creature gets its name, are up to 24 inches long and 8 inches wide. They actually have casts of ‘Bigfoot’ tracks and most have five toes, like apes, but others have between 6-8 toes. Bigfoot is often reported to have a strong, unpleasant smell

The Giant Stone Balls of Costa Rica

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Deep in the jungles of Costa Rica, back in the 1940s, workmen clearing dense jungle for a United Fruit Company banana plantation were amazed to find dozens of large stone ball-shaped objects, many of them perfectly spherical. They varied in size from as small as a tennis ball up to an astonishing 8 feet in diameter and weighing 16 tons. Almost all of them are made of granodiorite, a hard, igneous stone not local to the region. The probability is that they were man-made but, if so, how did primitive people with crude tools manage to sculpt huge artifacts like these with such great precision, and why ? The giant stone balls of Costa Rica remain a mystery.

The Loch Ness Monster

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The Loch Ness Monster is a creature that is supposed to live in Loch (or lake) Ness in Scotland. Since the early 1930s, when it was first allegedly spotted, ‘Nessie’ has captured the public’s interest and attracted a steady stream of tourists. Evidence of its existence is anecdotal, with poor-quality and disputed photographic evidence of sightings. The scientific community generally regards the monster as a modern-day myth, explaining sightings as a mix of hoax and wishful thinking, but others swear that the creature really exists. It has been suggested that descriptions of the monster bear a striking resemblance to the supposedly extinct plesiosaur, a long-necked aquatic reptile that became extinct millennia ago. Several expeditions to Loch Ness, including submarine and sonar investigations, have failed to find the monster but it is a very deep lake.

The Nazca Lines of Peru

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(image via: flickr)

The ‘Nazca Lines’ are a series of geometric shapes, miles of lines, and large drawings of animal figures constructed on the desert floor in the Nazca region of Peru. The puzzle is that these lines and figures are of such a gigantic scale that they can only be seen properly from a high altitude, a view that would not have been possible for those who constructed them. They were, in fact. discovered accidentally in the 1930s by an overflying airplane. The purpose of these lines is unknown. Some think they were created for the Gods (or space-travelers) to regard from above, others suggest they were some sort of calendar with astronomical alignments that would aid in planting and harvesting of crops. Others have suggested that the purpose of the lines was not to be looked at, but to be walked upon as a sort of ceremonial procession. The truth is that no-one knows and, in all likelihood, never will.

Ball Lightning

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Ball lightning is a strange natural phenomenon that science has yet to fully explain. The fact that it is reported so rarely makes it almost impossible to study. A typical ball is 4½ to 9 inches in diameter but they may be up to about three feet. They can be red, orange, or yellow in color, though occasionally blue or white, with the approximate brightness of a domestic light bulb. Sometimes they have a halo, emit sparks or rays, and can last for anything up to several minutes before disappearing either in an explosion or gradually fading away. Odors resembling ozone, burning sulfur, or nitrogen oxide have been reported, occasionally with the presence of a faint mist or residue. What makes ball lighting so puzzling is its strange ‘behavior’. Witnesses have said that it moves about as if with a kind of intelligence, following patterns on walls or furniture, and seeming to avoid obstacles. More mysterious still is its ability to pass through solid objects. Sometimes it leaves holes, but it has also been seen to pass through window glass and even walls without even leaving a mark.

Ley Lines

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Ley lines, or Leys, are alignments of ancient sites stretching across the landscape along tracks of natural power. The theory is that apparently unrelated ancient sites or holy places may be situated in a straight line ranging from one or two to several miles in length. A ley may be identified simply by an aligned placing of marker sites or it might be visible on the ground for all or part of its length by the remnants of an old straight track. Some claim to be able to feel a special ‘force’ or ‘power’ emanating from the lines. Although supposedly known to the ancients, ley lines were ‘re-discovered’ in 1921 by Alfred Watkins, a Herefordshire businessman, while he was looking at a local map for features of interest . He later published his theories about ‘leys’ in a book called ‘The Old Straight Track’.

The Bermuda Triangle

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The Bermuda Triangle, also known as the Devil’s Triangle, lies between Miami in Florida, San Juan in Puerto Rico and the Bahamas. Within that area there have been many unexplained disappearances of boats and planes. Additionally, it is alleged, compasses do not operate normally inside the triangle. Theories about why so many vessels have disappeared in this stretch of water include strange magnetic fields, time warps, the lost continent of Atlantis, and alien abduction. Other proposed explanations include physical forces unknown to science, a “hole in the sky,” and an unusual chemical component in the region’s seawater. Several books have suggested that an intelligent, technologically advanced race living in space or under the sea has been responsible for jamming equipment and leading ships and planes to disaster.

UFOs

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Little green men in flying saucers, cunning military misdirection, or natural phenomena being misinterpreted ? The answer is, no-one has a clue. UFOs are one of the most puzzling mysteries that fascinate mankind and any sighting is sure to get widespread coverage in the press. The U.S Air Force originally coined the term in 1952, defining UFOs as simply those objects that remain unidentified after scrutiny by expert investigators but the term UFO has now passed into common currency as meaning an alien spacecraft. Some scientists have argued that all UFO sightings, in the strictest sense, are simply misidentification of prosaic natural phenomena. To others, though, they remain a puzzling mystery.

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