As bright and intelligent as we think we are as a species, there are a number of mysteries in the world that continue to elude us. These unsolved mysteries are wide in scope and could include the Pyramids of Egypt or even Hitler’s suicide, but presented here are the top 8 mysteries that I’ve found particularly compelling.
DB Cooper’s heist, jump and disappearance
Between 1967 and 1972 there were 147 attempted skyjacks in the U.S. One of those skyjacks was “pulled off” by Dan Cooper (aka D.B. Cooper). Dan Cooper paid $20 for a one-way flight from Portland to Seattle aboard Northwest Orient Flight 305 on Thanksgiving Eve in 1971. Once in flight, Cooper handed the flight attendant a note that read, “I have a bomb in my briefcase. I will use it if necessary. I want you to sit next to me. You are being hijacked.” When the plane landed his demands for $200,000 and four parachutes were met, the passengers were released and the plane took off again. Flying at 10,000 feet, wings flapped at 15 degrees and in virtual landing mode, the plane was low enough for an easy jump.
It’s believed that at around 8:11 p.m. Cooper jumped into a storm; he was never heard from or seen again. Due to poor visibility neither the crew nor the pursuing F-106 fighter jets saw Cooper jump, if his chute opened or whether he got his money. Some of the mysteries that cause people trouble are why he did not ask to fly a precise route, request warm clothing or at least a helmet. In the end, Cooper pulled off an antiestablishment act during the Vietnam era and he remains, according to some, the one man who beat the established order by slipping past the feds and managing not to physically hurt anyone; however, some claim that he ultimately hurt himself. Whether or not he survived is one of the most endearing unsolved mysteries.
The Bermuda Triangle
One of the greatest unsolved mysteries of the 20th century has been the Devil’s Triangle (aka the Bermuda Triangle), which has seen dozens of ships and aircrafts fade into oblivion. Most disappeared without a trace or even a distress call, much less any sign of debris. Vincent Gaddis put the mysteries of the triangle on the map in his 1964 Argosy magazine feature about strange disappearances, including Flight 19. The size of the area has been estimated to range from 500,000 to 1.5 million square miles; however, it has been said that size doesn’t matter since some inexplicable force within it causes ships and planes to vanish.
Why is this among the unsolved mysteries? Some claim that our knowledge of magnetism is not as profound as it could be, which makes a conclusive analysis difficult. Others attribute this phenomenon to extraterrestrial activity, while many more blame it on human error. It can be rationalized that the absence of a body count is due to the fact that the waters are infested with sharks.
Historically, man has explained unsolved mysteries with mythology, demons, monsters or extraterrestrial invaders. Answers to these mysteries may rise to the surface when mankind is willing to set aside preconceived notions to look at facts and draw up a conclusion. But, before you think conspiracy, the area is notorious for unpredictable weather that is powerful enough to annihilate any mass in the area.
Loch Ness, home to one of the world’s greatest unsolved mysteries, is located on the Great Glen geological fault, which divides the North of Scotland along a line from Fort William to Inverness. Its deepest point measures 813 feet and it contains more fresh water than England and Wales combined. For more than a century man has been fascinated by reported sightings of the Loch Ness Monster (aka Nessie). Much has been written on the mysteries of Loch Ness, and while proof of Nessie’s existence or supposed sightings have not been conclusively proved, the mystery remains: Does Nessie really exist?
In October 1987, an attempt to solve the mysteries of Loch Ness was made with 20 cruisers that swept the loch using sonar equipment to bounce sound waves from the surface to the bottom, electronically recording all contacts. While the cruisers caught enough salmon to feed an army, there was no sign of Nessie. Most scientists would bet that there is no monster, yet they do seem to hedge themselves and keep an open mind as they await conclusive proof in the form of skeletal evidence or the capture of the monster. They wish.
One of the most glamorous, scandalous and riveting unsolved mystery of all-time is the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Most Americans accept that more than one man killed JFK, yet not a single journalist, historian or government investigator has come up with the killers. Was it really the “Military-Industrial Complex?” Was it the Mob getting even with Kennedy for his involvement with the glorious Marilyn Monroe? Perhaps, it was Cuban assassins that were upset about the Bay of Pigs invasion?
Many lost faith in the Government and never accepted that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone. Citizens rank this conspiracy as the biggest piece of hogwash ever served to the public. Others point to the fact that Oswald didn’t have the time necessary, that the rifle’s scope was misaligned and that Ruby must have killed him for a reason. This is one of the mysteries that remains to be the greatest shame on American intelligence and democracy or lack thereof, as it suggests that the President may have been killed for going up against the powers that be.
On the vast and open down land of Salisbury Plain, you will find one of the greatest unsolved mysteries in the megalithic ruin known as Stonehenge. Standing two miles west of the town of Amesbury, Wiltshire, in Southern England, Stonehenge is not a single architectural structure, rather, the magnificent mystery unites a series of earth, timber and stone structures that were revised and remodeled over a period of 1,400 years.
More than 4,000 years ago, the people of the Neolithic period decided, for some reason, to construct a massive monument; exactly why anyone would be driven to build such a monument is as great a mystery as any. Some theories range from religion, others to astronomy. Remnants of what was Stonehenge stand today: still beautiful, breathtaking, mysterious, and most definitely sacred. Stonehenge has been the subject of many pieces of literature, capturing the imagination of children and adults alike.
Shroud of Turin
The Shroud of Turin is an ancient linen cloth that bears the image and profile of a crucified man. One crucified man that has gotten much press is none other than Jesus Christ. See the issue? The unsolved mystery here is whether or not this crucified man is Jesus of Nazareth, and whether this cloth is the same one used to wrap his crucified body. Cynics disregard this claim, calling it a medieval forgery or a clever hoax perpetrated by an artist.
Thanks to modern science, the Shroud of Turin has become the single most studied artifact in human history, with hundreds of thousands of hours spent on study and intense research. Despite all of this effort, there is no definitive answer to this mystery. There’s already incredible confusion and doubts about Jesus Christ’s existence, role and figure; include the Shroud of Turin and you’ve only added to the pot.
The Lost City of Atlantis
Plato was great at stirring up trouble and two of his dialogues — Timaeus and Critias — have served as the basis for the theory behind the Lost City of Atlantis. While many critics attribute this story to the creation of a philosopher’s imagination to illustrate an argument, there are proponents who claim that it was the other way around; that his dialogues were inspired by catastrophic events, leading to the destruction of the Minoan civilization on Crete and Thera.
So, did Plato have too much wine? Is Atlantis an exaggeration based on the ancient cities of Thera in the Mediterranean? Or could it be real? Is it possible for an advanced and rich civilization to have existed in the Atlantic Ocean circa 9,000 B.C.? By most accounts, the only written records of Atlantis are found in Timaeus and Critias. Another possible location for the Lost City of Atlantis is around the Azores Islands, a group of islands belonging to Portugal that are 900 miles west of the Portuguese coast. Some actually argue that these islands are the mountaintops of the sunken continent of Atlantis. Wherever the Lost City of Atlantis is located, it remains one of man’s ultimate unsolved mysteries.
As humans, we are egocentric enough to believe that we are the only beings inhabiting the universe. There are, however, many that argue in the other direction. To pretend that no other intelligent life form can exist anywhere in the world — and to a greater extent, in the universe — is close-minded, archaic, selfish, unrealistic, and ridiculous. Admittedly, expecting aliens to land on Independence Day to blow us into oblivion is also slightly inane.
Various specific events stand out as unexplained and unsolved mysteries, such as the Roswell incident and Area 51, but they all belong to the greater potential of life abroad. To argue that life can exist elsewhere is reasonable. Simply stated: The universe is too vast and Earth is too small for us to be alone.
As you can see, there are plenty of unsolved mysteries for you to solve. If you have a little Hardy Boy buried inside of you, crack open a book or two, plan an expedition, and get out there and do us a favor by solving some of these unsolved mysteries. Who knows, if you solve one you could become the next subject in a Dan Brown novel.