Modern science has been solving some of the world’s most important problems; but not all of them. The 7 incredible mysteries below have eluded our brightest minds, leaving us with questions still beyond our grasp.
1. The ‘Wow!’ Signal
On August 15th 1977, a volunteer astronomer for the SETI (Search for Extra Terrestrial Intelligence) by the name of Jerry Ehman was scanning radio waves from deep space when he recorded the strongest evidence of extraterrestrial life in human history. The way in which Ehman’s readings spiked meant that the signal was unmistakably transmitted with the intention to be heard. The signal was received at precisely the right frequency to not be interpreted as noise, and to not be intercepted along its very long journey. To put this into perspective, if we were to send a message out into the universe to communicate with a possible alien race, it is exactly the frequency we would use.
The signal, originating in the Sagittarius constellation, 120 light years away, was circled by Ehman on the original print out of the reading with the word ‘wow!’, hence the name it is known by today. To this day, all attempts to locate the signal again have been in vain.
2. The Oak Island Money Pit
On the tiny Oak Island off the coast of Novia Scotia, Canada, lies one of the greatest treasure mysteries of all time. The ‘Money Pit’, an incredibly deep and elaborately constructed hole was discovered in 1795 and contains a series of wooden platforms and flooding mechanisms intended to prevent explorers from reaching its depths. An encoded message, inscribed on a stone found at the 90 ft mark, hints to why this might be:
“Forty feet below, two million pounds lie beneath”.
The problem is, any time any one of the hundreds of search parties have attempted to dig deeper, the entire pit has become completely flooded, filling up with water as fast as anyone could remove it. Little progress has been made towards the mysterious goal since its discovery.
On the grounds of the CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia, stands an intricate sculpture by American artist Jim Sanborn. ‘Kryptos’ is comprised of 4 large copper plates, petrified wood and other elements such as red and green granite and white quartz. It resembles a large paper scroll, and engraved on its copper surface is one of the most famous unsolved codes in the world.
Since its unveiling on November 3, 1990, master cryptanalysts have managed to solve 3 of its 4 encrypted messages. The 4th message, containing the least letters of them all, remains un-cracked, even by the most dedicated and masterful experts. Sanborn has revealed that the artwork contains a riddle within a riddle, which will only be solvable once all 4 messages have been deciphered.
Message 1 Solution:
“BETWEEN SUBTLE SHADING AND THE ABSENCE OF LIGHT LIES THE NUANCE OF ILLUSION”
Message 2 Solution:
“IT WAS TOTALLY INVISIBLE HOWS THAT POSSIBLE ? THEY USED THE EARTHS MAGNETIC FIELD X THE INFORMATION WAS GATHERED AND TRANSMITTED UNDERGROUND TO AN UNKNOWN LOCATION X DOES LANGLEY KNOW ABOUT THIS ? THEY SHOULD ITS BURIED OUT THERE SOMEWHERE X WHO KNOWS THE EXACT LOCATION ? ONLY WW THIS WAS HIS LAST MESSAGE X THIRTY EIGHT DEGREES FIFTY SEVEN MINUTES SIX POINT FIVE SECONDS NORTH SEVENTY SEVEN DEGREES EIGHT MINUTES FORTY FOUR SECONDS WEST X LAYER TWO”
The coordinates mentioned in the message were for a location 150 ft South East of the sculpture.
Message 3 Solution:
“SLOWLY DESPERATELY SLOWLY THE REMAINS OF PASSAGE DEBRIS THAT ENCUMBERED THE LOWER PART OF THE DOORWAY WAS REMOVED WITH TREMBLING HANDS I MADE A TINY BREACH IN THE UPPER LEFT HAND CORNER AND THEN WIDENING THE HOLE A LITTLE I INSERTED THE CANDLE AND PEERED IN THE HOT AIR ESCAPING FROM THE CHAMBER CAUSED THE FLAME TO FLICKER BUT PRESENTLY DETAILS OF THE ROOM WITHIN EMERGED FROM THE MIST X CAN YOU SEE ANYTHING Q ?”
This is a paraphrased quotation from the 1923 book ‘The Tomb of Tutenkhamun’ by archeologist Howard Carter, his account of opening the tomb of TutenKhamun in 1922.
Finding the link between these 3 messages will only be made possible by finding the solution to the 4th message, another layer that only exacerbates the confusion of the world’s most skilled code crackers.
4. The Voynich Manuscript
In 1912, rare book dealer Wilfrid Voynich purchased a book, written in a language unknown to him, that at first glance did not seem all that remarkable. On further investigation however, it became apparent that the paragraphs of text within its 240 pages were not only unknown to him, but unknown to anyone living on the planet. In fact, the text has evaded all attempts by man to decipher it to this day, more than 100 years after its purchase.
The writing is accompanied by diagrams and illustrations, and consists of 170,000 characters written in a way that resembles natural language. Experts have deduced that it is not encoded text, because there are no mistakes or evident pauses, and the writing has been done with an ease that suggests it came naturally to the author. Carbon dating reveals the writing of the mysterious book to date between 1404 and 1438.
5. Jack the Ripper
The story of ‘Jack the Ripper ‘ remains the greatest unsolved murder mystery of all time. He is undoubtedly the world’s most famous serial killer, not only for the gruesome state his victims were found in, but the anonymity that he maintains to this day. Jack the Ripper murdered 11 female prostitutes in London’s East End in the late 1800s, all with brutal knife wounds, throat slashing and dismemberment.
While several suspects have been suggested, including even Prince Albert and the painter Walter Sickert, neither the original police investigation nor later research has unearthed a convincing candidate.
6. The Maoi statues of Easter Island
In 1722, a Dutch explorer accidentally stumbled across a small island while in search for something else in the Southeastern Pacific Ocean. He coined it Easter Island, in line with the date of discovery. Easter Island was far away from anything else – 1900 kilometers (1180 miles) from the nearest inhabited land – so it came as a huge surprise when he discovered that there were over 2,000 people living there (The Rapa Nui People).
Despite their remote location, the Rapa Nui People managed to somehow carve and transport 887 statues, some weighing up to 82 tonnes. The fact that this all happened over 700 years ago makes it all the more incredible.
Experts have speculated as to how this would have been achieved, with different tools and approaches. However, every proposed explanation would result in unavoidable damage to the statues, which has not occurred.
7. Gobekli Tepe
Located at the top of a mountain range in Turkey, Gobekli Tepe is a site where the remains of an ancient and advanced civilization began to be uncovered in 1996. It was a discovery that threatened to completely debunk our current timeline of history as we know it.
The site is comprised of over 200 pillars, up to 20 ft high and some weighing more than 20 tonnes, arranged in 20 circles, some with predatory animals engraved on them. What doesn’t make sense though, is that Gobekli Tepe was built 13,000 years ago, predating stonehenge by 8,000 years.
Our current understanding of people of that time is that they lacked complex symbolic systems, social hierarchies, and the division of labor. But these societal attributes would be essential in building a huge, 22 acre temple. Also, formal religion was meant to have only appeared after agriculture produced such hierarchical relations, which was later than when Gobekli Tepe’s temple was erected.
Questions also surround the site as to its purpose, and the ability of nomadic, neolithic men to organize a workforce to complete such a monumental task. And how to explain the fact that it predates similar structures by thousands of years?
The problem-solving nature of the human race has made these logic-defying occurrences famous among scientists and enthusiasts driven to obsession in pursuit of answers. But, after so many years of speculation, it is hard to say if they will ever be demystified.