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10 Mind-Bending Mysteries That Defy All Explanation


Published on March 8, 2024


Credit: Marek Piwnicki

Get ready to delve into the realm of the unexplained and unresolved. From eerie disappearances to uncharted phenomena, some of these unsolved mysteries defy logic and will leave us scratching our heads.

In this article, we will explore 10 mind-bending enigmas that continue to elude explanation despite all attempts to elucidate their perplexing nature.

1

The Vanishing Act

Credit: Charlie Hales

The infamous Bermuda Triangle, spanning between Miami, Bermuda, and Puerto Rico, is considered by many to be a hot spot for unexplained disappearances of both ships and aircraft since at least 1840. However, despite extensive research, the reasons behind the vanishings remain elusive. Some attribute the apparent phenomenon to magnetic anomalies, while others point to human error or natural explanations.

2

A Cryptic Manuscript

Credit: Sohaib Al Kharsa

Dating back to the 15th century, the Voynich Manuscript is a handwritten book filled with bizarre illustrations and an unknown script referred to as Voynichese . Scholars and cryptographers have attempted to decipher its contents for centuries, yet its mysterious language remains uncracked. While some believe it was conceived as a work of fiction or, perhaps, a joke, the manuscript's true origin, purpose, and the meaning of its intricate drawings remain one of history's greatest linguistic conundrums.

3

A Signal from Space

Credit: Ben Wicks

In 1977, a radio signal was detected from deep space by Ohio State University's radio telescope. The strange signal lasted 72 seconds and was dubbed the "Wow! Signal" because it bore the expected hallmarks of extraterrestrial origin. But despite numerous attempts, scientists have still been unable to trace its source or explain its origin. The signal's sudden appearance and unique frequency continue to fuel speculation about life beyond the Earth.

4

An Enigmatic Construction

Credit: K. Mitch Hodge

The prehistoric monument of Stonehenge, an imposing circle of colossal stones in the middle of a grassy field, has puzzled archaeologists for centuries. The purpose of its construction as well as the exact technology used by its ancient builders - who did not leave written records behind - remain mostly an enigma. However, many researchers have pointed out that the monument could have functioned as a sort of early astronomical observatory.

5

The Somerton Man

Credit: Farhan Azam

In 1948, an unidentified man was found peacefully dead on Somerton Beach in Australia. Police found a scrap of paper that read Tamam Shud (meaning "finished" in Persian) in his pocket, later found to be a torn page from Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, a 12th-century Persian poetry book. The man's identity, cause of death, and the meaning behind the mysterious phrase remain unknown to this day. A baffling case that could have easily been ripped off the pages of an Agatha Christie book, The Somerton Man continues to mystify investigators, spawning numerous theories but offering no concrete answers.

6

A Bizarre Broadcast Intrusion

Credit: Fran Jacquier

In 1987, during two separate incidents, an unknown individual wearing a Max Headroom mask hijacked television broadcasts in Chicago. The bizarre intrusions featured distorted audio and peculiar visuals, leaving viewers bewildered. Following the broadcast intrusion, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) launched a criminal investigation. However, despite numerous inquiries and widespread speculation over the ensuing decades, the culprits behind the intrusion remain unidentified to this day.

7

The Dyatlov Pass Incident

Credit: Hendrik Morkel

In 1959, a group of experienced hikers in the Ural Mountains (then part of the Soviet Union) met a mysterious and tragic end. Their tent was found slashed open, and the hikers were scattered in various states of undress, some with internal injuries. The cause of their deaths and the strange circumstances leading to the incident remain unsolved, with the prevailing secrecy of Soviet authorities at the time further complicating inquiries. The tragic incident has sparked numerous theories, from natural disasters to military experiments, but definitive answers remain elusive.

8

The Taos Hum

Credit: Ethan Wright-Magoon

Residents of Taos, New Mexico, have reported a persistent low-frequency hum, known as the "Taos Hum," since the early 1990s. Despite investigations, the source of this mysterious sound, which can only be heard by a small percentage of the population, remains unknown. Similar phenomena have been reported in other parts of the world, leading researchers to believe local sources or even biological auditory effects might be the cause.

9

The Ghost Ship

Credit: Jamie Morrison

In 1872, the ship Mary Celeste was discovered adrift in the Atlantic Ocean with its crew mysteriously missing. Surprisingly, the ship was intact, with all its food and valuables untouched. Insurance fraud, mutiny, waterspouts, and giant squid attacks have all been proposed as possible explanations, but no convincing evidence was found to prove any of these theories. Despite exhaustive investigations, the fate of the crew and the reason for their sudden disappearance remain one of maritime history's most enduring enigmas.

10

The Sleeping Sickness Spell

Credit: Gregory Pappas

During the early 20th century, a mysterious illness known as Encephalitis lethargica struck half a million people around the world, causing affected individuals to enter a prolonged state of lethargy or sleep. While the exact cause remains unknown, one of the leading theories suggests that brain inflammation triggered by an autoimmune response to a certain strain of bacteria or viral infection could have been responsible for the observed symptoms.


10 Words You Didn't Know Were Coined by Writers


Published on March 8, 2024


Credit: Art Lasovsky

Did you know thatsome of the words we consider "modern" today were actually first coined in the 19th century or earlier ? The language game can be shocking at times.

Writers are like architects of imagination; they use words as their building blocks to craft entire worlds. But certain authors go beyond just storytelling. Some of them have bequeathed to us not only captivating stories but also the vocabulary that colors our daily lives.

Hold on to your hat, as we're going to reveal 10 words you probably didn't know were first coined by writers .

1

Meme

Credit: NordWood Themes

Memes are all over the internet and, with cameras everywhere these days, you have to be careful not to become one.

Today, memes are an inexhaustible source of virtual fun. However, the origin of the word "meme" doesn't come from the hand of a comedian but from a scientist. Who would have thought?

The term was coined by the British biologist Richard Dawkins (1941), who derived it from the Greek word mimema , meaning "imitated." In his 1976 book, The Selfish Gene , Dawkins introduced the word to draw a parallel between memes and biological genes, emphasizing the way cultural information spreads and evolves.

The next time a friend sends you a meme, you can amaze them with these facts.

2

Nerd

Credit: Joe Ciciarelli

Some words can be like chameleons, with shifting meanings or connotations depending on the context and the way they are used.

Back in the day, calling someone "smart" or "intellectual" came with a dash of negativity, giving the word "nerd" some of that nuance. Today, however, intelligent people who are enthusiastic about learning are viewed with admiration.

Although the term is now widely used, not many know its origin. Guess what? The first occurrence of the word "nerd" in print was in the 1950 book ** If I Ran the Zoo, **by our beloved Dr. Seuss (1904-1991). This was over 70 years ago! In the story, "nerd" refers to a strange little imaginary animal.

3

Yahoo

Credit: Olga Tutunaru

Long before it was a famous internet search engine, the word "Yahoo" appeared in literature as early as the 18th century .

If you peek at the dictionary , you'll find a negative definition, as the term describes someone rude, boorish, or even unintelligent.

The meaning of this word is practically holding hands with its origin: Back in 1726, Jonathan Swift (1667–1745)introduced the term "Yahoo" in his epic Gulliver's Travels . In the book, Yahoos are brutish creatures that resemble humans in looks, but with extremely unpleasant habits.

4

Pandemonium

Credit: Chris Barbalis

Maybe this isn't a word you use every day, but once you get to know it better, you will surely find the occasion to use it.

The English poet John Milton (1608-1674) created this word by combining the Greek pan- , meaning "all," with the Latin daemonium , meaning "evil spirit." It is the name the author suitably gave to the capital of hell in his 1667 book Paradise Lost .

Today, the word is used to describe a chaotic and disorderly crowd or situation.

5

Hard-boiled

Credit: Rasa Kasparaviciene

Most of us have boiled a couple of eggs at some point in our lives. But let's be honest, we've probably messed it up a few times. The experts —or eggsperts— say the ideal boiling time for perfect hard-boiled eggs is about 12 minutes.

But let's take a break from all this egg talk to shift your attention from any potential mouthwatering.

Metaphorically, "hard-boiled" is also employed to characterize tough and uncompromising personalities. While the term may have historical roots, the Merriam-Webster dictionary states that it was the American writer Mark Twain (1835-1910) who first used it in this figurative sense in 1886 , describing emotional toughness.

6

Utopia

Credit: Colton Duke

Here's a word we use to this day, which has its first written appearance in the 16th century. That's right, more than 500 years ago .

Sir Thomas More (1478 –1535), an English philosopher, lawyer, and statesman, gave us this term in his 1516 work, Utopia . In this text, he describes a society that's practically a wish list of awesome qualities.

Utopia is like a dreamy community where everything is flawless. The word comes from Ancient Greek , and its literal translation would be "no place," probably winking at the idea that utopia is so perfect that it's practically impossible.

7

Cyberspace

Credit: Alexander Sinn

As its name implies, cyberspace is the virtual environment where communication unfolds via computer networks. Despite its widespread recognition today, the term made its debut in the 1980s .

Credit for coining the word and shaping its meaning goes to the American-Canadian writer William Gibson (1948), who introduced it in a story published in 1982 and reused it in his 1984 novel called Neuromancer . In this science-fiction narrative set in the future, the author creates a world inhabited by artificial intelligence . Not so far from what we are experiencing today, right?

8

Workaholic

Credit: Thought Catalog

Today, a growing number of people are opting for working from home or, in some instances, embracing a lifestyle known as "digital nomadism" by working while traveling around the world.

Despite these new options facilitated by technology, our jobs remain a fundamental part of our lives. So much so, that many people consider themselves " workaholics, " those addicted to work.

The term is often credited to psychologist Wayne Oates (1917-1999), who employs it in his book Confessions of a Workaholic (1973) . In this work, the author delves into his personal experiences. However, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, the word was seen as early as 1947 in the Toronto Daily Star in Canada.

9

Freelance

Credit: Per Lööv

Also related to the world of work, the term "freelance" explains its origin very well.

Sir Walter Scott (1771-1832) used the word in Ivanhoe ****, a historical novel of 1820 , to characterize a type of medieval warrior whose lance was not pledged to the service of any particular lord.

Although today's "freelancers" do not use lances, they are independent workers who provide their services to different employers.

10

Chortle

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Lewis Carroll (1832-1898), the brilliant mind behind Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (1865), was a creative English writer known for coining portmanteaus , innovative words formed by blending existing ones.

An example of this is the term "chortle," which Carroll introduced in his poem " Jabberwocky " (1871) by combining "chuckle" and "snort." As the name implies, the expression describes a brief, cheerful, and noisy laugh.

Looking for an extra scoop of literary fun?

Learn more with our Word of the day

infrangible

/ɪnˈfrændʒəbəl/