World's topmost mysteries explained
- The Unexplained Mystery of Crop Circles
WHERE? The first crop circle, recorded in 1966, was discovered by an Australian sugar cane farmer who claimed to see a flying saucer spaceship rise up from a swamp before flying away. WHAT'S THE STORY? Early crop circles were primitive circular patterns of flattened crops, often created in mysterious circumstances overnight, and attributed to aliens. They began at a time when flying saucers were hugely popular in sci-fi literature and movies. Over the decades, crop circles have evolved to be increasingly complex. Today, they appear in the form geometric shapes like the DNA double helix, or fractals like the nautilus shell.
CROP CIRCLES EXPLAINED. The most compelling aspect of crop circles is their complexity and the speed at which they appear. But they lost this appeal overnight when, in 1991, two men from Southampton, England, admitted they had been creating hoax crop circles for 15 years. The pair were able to make intricate patterns using planks, rope, hats and wire - and could create a 40-foot circle in 15 minutes. The only reason they came clean was because one of the men was running up considerable mileage on his car and had to convince his wife he wasn't having an affair. He still publicly demonstrates the art today. TELL ME MORE? Another popularly held belief is that flying saucers leave nitrate deposits at crop circle locations. Sample testing has, indeed, found nitrate in the ground at multiple sites. But far from proving chemical evidence of alien visitation, this is the mark of farmers using nitrate-based fertilizers to grow their crops.
- The Unexplained Mystery of UFOs
WHERE? The first reported sighting of a UFO came from Texas in 1878, when a local farmer reported seeing a large, dark, circular flying object flying "at wonderful speed". WHAT'S THE STORY? In the 1950s, the number of reported UFO sightings went through the roof. The most common kind were flying saucers, described to have awesome maneuvering capabilities beyond any man-made aircraft.
UFOs EXPLAINED. The acronym UFO stands for Unidentified Flying Object, so in the sense that these flying objects are unidentified by the viewer, UFOs are very real. However, countless UFO sightings can be later identified as dust on the camera lens, airplanes, helicopters, weather balloons, comets, meteors and even planets that can be seen with the naked eye. TELL ME MORE? Today, there appears to be some pretty astounding video and photo evidence of alien spacecraft. Of course, there's also the movie Independence Day. Hoaxes are the best explanation for computer-generated images of UFOs.
- The Unexplained Mystery of The Out of Body Experience
Some people claim that they have experienced out-of-body experiences—aka "astral trips"—floating outside of their bodies and watching themselves from the outside. A team of scientists found someone who says she can do this at will and put her into a brain scanner. What they discovered was surprisingly strange.Andra M. Smith and Claude Messierwere from the University of Ottawa described this subject's ability in their paper, published in Frontiers of Human Neuroscience:
She was able to see herself rotating in the air above her body, lying flat, and rolling along with the horizontal plane. She reported sometimes watching herself move from above but remained aware of her unmoving "real" body. The participant reported no particular emotions linked to the experience.
How the hell is this possible? Can it be real? The researchers found that something dramatic, and consistent with her account, was happening in her brain: The fMRI showed a "strong deactivation of the visual cortex" while "activating the left side of several areas associated with kinesthetic imagery," which includes mental imagery of bodily movement. This is the part of the brain that makes it possible for us to interact with the world. It's what makes you feel where your body is in relation to the world. This is the very first time that this type of experience has been analyzed and documented scientifically. Researchers know that out-of-body experiences can be induced "by brain traumas, sensory deprivation, near-death experiences, dissociative and psychedelic drugs, dehydration, sleep, and electrical stimulation of the brain, among others. It can also be deliberately induced by some." But this may be the first documented case of someone who can get into this state at will.
So is it real or not?
It is real in the sense that she's actually experiencing it. The brain scans show that she's going through what she's claiming. But that doesn't mean that her "soul" is getting out of her body. This is not an astral trip, like those described by mystics. There's no paranormal activity of any kind. The fact is that, even while there aren't a lot of solid experiments on this subject except this research paper and a few others, scientists believe that these out-of-body experiences are a type of hallucination triggered by some neurological mechanism. The researchers of this paper speculate that this neurological mechanism may be present in other people too and that some people—like this woman—may train themselves to activate it. She told them that she first noticed this happening when she was a little kid, while taking naps.Perhaps out-of-body experiences may end up being like synesthesia, a neurological phenomenon that was largely ignored during the mid-20th century. Synesthesia—which makes some people to automatically see colors in their brain when they read or hear letters, numbers and words—is now accepted, studied and understood.
- The Unexplained Mystery of The Belmez Faces
The Bélmez Faces or the Faces of Bélmez is an alleged paranormal phenomenon in a private house in Spain which started in 1971 when residents claimed images of faces appeared in the concrete floor of the house. These images have continuously formed and disappeared on the floor of the home. Located at the Pereira family home at Calle Real 5, Bélmez de la Moraleda, Jaén, Andalusia, Spain, the Bélmez faces have been responsible for bringing large numbers of sightseers to Bélmez. The phenomenon is considered by some parapsychologists the best-documented and "without doubt the most important paranormal phenomenon in the [20th] century". Various faces have appeared and disappeared at irregular intervals since 1971 and have been frequently photographed by the local newspapers and curious visitors. Many Bélmez residents believe that the faces were not made by human hand. Some paranormal investigators believe that it is a thoughtographic phenomenon, subconsciously produced by the deceased former owner of the house, María Gómez Cámara. Skeptical researchers have performed extensive tests on the faces and believe that fakery has been involved and the images have been applied with lead paint. The faces are dismissed as a hoax and it has been suspected that the Pereira family may have perpetrated the hoax for financial gain.
The appearances in Bélmez began on 23 August 1971, when María Gómez Cámara claimed that a human face formed spontaneously on her concrete kitchen floor. María's husband, Juan Pereira and their son, Miguel, destroyed the image with a pickaxe and new concrete was laid down. However, the Pereira story goes, a new face formed on the floor. The mayor of Bélmez was informed and forbade the destruction of the new face. Instead, the floor concrete was cut out and taken for study. María's home was advertised to the tourists as La Casa de las Caras (The House of the Faces). By Easter of 1972 hundreds of people were flocking to the house to see the faces. For the next 30 years the Pereira family claimed that faces continued to appear, both male and female and of different shapes, sizes and expressions.
- The Unexplained Mystery of Pyramid Power
The Great Pyramids of Giza have filled our lives with mystery and wonder for generations. Centuries of scientists, explorers, archeologists and many more have ventured to Egypt to inspect and analyze the mysteries of the massive structures.
To see them in person is something that many claim is a profound experience. In an article by Collective Evolution titled “Mind-Altering Facts About The Great Pyramid At Giza That Still Have No Explanation” , author Arjun Walia writes:There are numerous ancient archaeological sites all over this planet that are without explanation. The Great Pyramids at Giza are a great example of this. The modern explanation, taught in ancient civilization classes within our educational institutions, is that they were built by human labor and ingenuity to be a tomb for the Pharaoh Khufu, despite professional Egyptologists dismissing these claims time and time again. The Great Pyramid contains so many incredible facts that have led to questions that remain unanswerable till this day. Another interesting point to note is the fact that multiple pyramids, with multiple perplexing facts were built all over the planet, at different time periods, by civilizations that had no contact with each other whatsoever.
WHAT'S THE STORY? Engineering feats aside, these structures are claimed by some to possess the unexplained phenomenon of Pyramid Power. In the 1940s, a Czech radio engineer named Karel Drbal claimed that small pyramids of the same relative dimensions as the Great Pyramid (on a 1:1,000 scale) could sharpen razor blades. His explanation was that the pyramid shape focuses cosmic energy when precisely aligned on the north-south axis, which can renew the crystalline structure of steel.
PYRAMID POWER EXPLAINED. Despite the claims of Drbal and others, there is no scientific evidence that Pyramid Power exists. It is a cut and dry myth, presumably driven by the compelling nature of pyramids and their ancient, unexplained origins. But as the Skeptic's Dictionary enthusiastically points out: "That almost anything in the universe can be found to have interesting mathematical proportions or be related to several interesting mathematical formulae is of little interest to pyramidiots." TELL ME MORE? As the neurologist Terence Hines wrote: "Pyramid Power became quite a craze in the world of pseudoscience for a brief time in the mid-1970s. The idea was that the pyramidal shape itself was magical and filled with a mysterious energy and power." "Pyramid Power claims have actually been tested. In 1973, Alter and Simmons showed that pyramid-shaped containers were no more effective than any other shape at preserving organic matter (flowers or meat) placed in them. Nor did putting dull razor blades in a pyramid-shaped holder restore them to sharpness."
- The Unexplained Mystery of The Mayan Prophecy
A vast city built by the ancient Mayan civilisation and discovered nearly a century ago in modern day Guatemala is finally starting to yield its secrets - including a hint that apocalyptic predictions around the 'end' of the Mayan Calendar may be wrong.
Excavating for the first time in the sprawling complex of Xultzn in Guatemala's Peten region, archaeologists have uncovered a structure that contains what appears to be a work space for the town's scribe.Its walls are adorned with unique paintings - one depicting a line-up of men in black uniforms, and hundreds of scrawled numbers - many calculations relating to the Mayan calendar, and stretching up to 7,000 years into the future.
The excavations, which were funded by National Geographic, have already revealed details about the Mayan calendar and the lives of the inhabitants which were previously unknown.One wall of the structure, thought to be a house, is covered with tiny, millimetre-thick, red and black glyphs unlike any seen before at other Mayan sites. Some appear to represent the various calendrical cycles charted by the Mayans - the 260-day ceremonial calendar, the 365-day solar calendar, the 584-day cycle of the planet Venus and the 780-day cycle of Mars.
Four long numbers on the north wall of the ruined house relate to the Maya calendar and computations about the moon, sun and possibly Venus and Mars; the dates may stretch some 7,000 years into the future.
‘Why would they go into those numbers if the world is going to come to an end this year?’ observed Anthony Aveni of Colgate University in Hamilton, N.Y., an expert on Mayan astronomy. ‘You could say a number that big at least suggests that time marches on.’These are the first calculations Maya archaeologists have found that seem to tabulate all of these cycles in this way. Although they all involve common multiples of key calendrical and astronomical cycles, the exact significance of these particular spans of time is not known.Archaeologist William Saturno, of Boston University in the United States who led the exploration and excavation, said: ‘For the first time we get to see what may be actual records kept by a scribe, whose job was to be official record keeper.
‘It's like an episode of TV's 'Big Bang Theory,' a geek math problem and they're painting it on the wall. They seem to be using it like a blackboard.’
The scientists say that despite popular belief, there is no sign that the Mayan calendar - or the world - was to end in the year 2012, just one of its calendar cycles.
- The Unexplained Mystery of Stonehenge
Current research is now suggesting that Stonehenge may already have been an important sacred site at least 500 years before the first Stone circle was erected – and that the sanctity of its location may have determined the layout of key aspects of the surrounding sacred landscape.What’s more, the new investigation – being carried out by archaeologists from the universities’ of Birmingham, Bradford and Vienna – massively increases the evidence linking Stonehenge to pre-historic solar religious beliefs. It increases the likelihood that the site was originally and primarily associated with sun worshipThe investigations have also enabled archaeologists to putatively reconstruct the detailed route of a possible religious procession or other ritual event which they suspect may have taken place annually to the north of Stonehenge.That putative pre-historic religious ‘procession’ (or, more specifically, the evidence suggesting its route) has implications for understanding Stonehenge’s prehistoric religious function – and suggests that the significance of the site Stonehenge now occupies emerged earlier than has previously been appreciated.
However, excavations have revealed that Stonehenge was built in four stages:
In 3100 BC, a series of holes were dug for religious ceremony.
More than 1,000 years later, the most dramatic stage of building took place. Huge bluestones from mountains in Wales were lugged more than 240 miles to the Stonehenge site. (Why would anyone do this in the age before the wheel? And how would they accomplish such a feat? These remain true unexplained mysteries, because it really wouldn't have been hard to find rocks closer nearby.) The stones were then set up to form an incomplete double circle, aligned perfectly with the midsummer sunrise.
The third stage, in 2000 BC, saw the arrival of more stones, transported by land from the Marlborough Downs some 25 miles away.
Finally, after another 500 years and numerous generations had passed, someone felt the need to rearrange the massive Welsh bluestones into the familiar horseshoe and circle we see today.
TELL ME MORE? Actually I can't. One of the great unexplained mysteries of ancient man, the meaning of Stonehenge is still not clear today. Was it a temple, a burial ground, an observatory, or an ancient calendar? We may never know.
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