People always run to scientists or other experts to decipher or explain the mysteries of the world. But, not all of these mysteries can be deciphered by scientists. Some, are just too baffling and confusing for experts to decode. They may be experts, but they’re not perfect. Somethings have been placed on Earth to make us wonder….and only wonder. That’s what makes this planet so loved, but at the same time, so questioned, and so alluring. Just like the tootsie pop commercial, “the world may never know”….
The Voynich Manuscript
The Voynich manuscript is an ancient book that has thwarted all attempts at deciphering its contents. It is an organized book with a consistent script, discernible organization and detailed illustrations. It appears to be a real language–just one that nobody has seen before. And it really does appear to mean something. But nobody knows what. There is not even a consensus on who wrote it, or even when it was written. Expert military code-breakers, cryptographers, mathematicians, and linguists have all been left unable to decipher a single word.
The Mpemba Effect
The Mpemba effect is that boiling water can, under certain circumstances, not only freeze but do so quicker than colder water. This phenomenon has been reported as working as far back as Ancient Greece, even though it would seem contradictory to the Laws of Thermodynamics. In 1969 a scientist named Mpemba did experiments that proved that the effect is real, however, scientists are left with more questions than answers. Many solutions have been suggested as reasons for this phenomenon, but none have been agreed upon by scientists and most contradictory explanations were obtained by very different experiments with different controls. Perhaps someday after more study scientists will understand this, but currently the results are inconclusive at best.
The Baghdad Batteries
The Baghdad Batteries are a series of artifacts found in the area of Mesopotamia dating from the early centuries AD. When archaeologists stumbled upon the batteries, they assumed they were just regular clay pots for storage, but that theory quickly went out the window since they each contain a copper rod that shows evidence of acid corrosion. This means that the pots probably contained a liquid that would interact with the copper and produce an electrical charge. If true, they predate the first known modern battery by hundreds of years.
The Giant Stone Spheres of Costa Rica
Costa Rica and a few surrounding areas are scattered with giant stone spheres. They are smooth and perfectly spherical, or nearly so. Some of them are quite small, a few inches in diameter, but some of them are as large as eight feet in diameter weighing several tons. They have been chiseled to perfection by persons unknown.
Scientists were attempting to study early stars but in 2006 they ran into a problem, they were faced with a mysterious noise that greatly inhibited their study. Scientists are left baffled as to what causes this. While sounds cannot travel through space, radio waves can, which is what they believe it is, however they are baffled as to where or what the radio waves are coming from. Also of note is that this sound is six times louder than should be expected, and there is no explanation for that either. Scientists have managed to figure out that it is not any radio waves that they currently know of, or any of the early stars themselves, or any of our dust particles.
The Baigong Pipes
In an area of China not known to ever contain people, let alone industry, there are three mysterious triangular openings on top of a mountain containing hundreds of ancient rusty iron pipes of unknown origin. Some of the pipes go deep into the mountain. Some of them go into a nearby salt water lake. There are more pipes in the lake, and more still running east-west along the lake shore. Some of the larger pipes are 40 cm in diameter, are of uniform size and are placed in what seems like purposeful patterns. Archaeologists have dated the pipes to a time before people had figured out how to cast iron.
The Antikythera Mechanism
The Antikythera mechanism is an ancient, intricate machine found in a shipwreck near Greece that dates back to about 100 BC. The Antikythera mechanism contains gears and structures that were not found in devices again for 1000 years. The mechanism was supposedly used to figure out astronomical positions. The problem with that is that at the time this thing was made, no one had yet discovered laws of gravity or how heavenly bodies moved. In other words, the Antikythera mechanism appears to have functions that no one alive at that time would have understood.
In 1997 the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration recorded a strange sound in the ocean. Strange and LOUD. So loud that it was picked up by two separate microphones 3,000 miles apart. The sound, dubbed “The Bloop,” doesn’t sound like anything at normal speed. However, the NOAA sped up the recording to 16 times the normal speed, causing it to sound like an object dropping into water. Scientists determined that its wave pattern indicates it was made by an animal but there is no animal we know of big enough or loud enough to make that kind of noise, not by a long shot.
Popular Mechanics has long profiled interesting new ideas and inventions, even if those innovations were destined to go no further than the magazine's pages
1. Electric kitchen table, 1917
Even in the early 20th century, there was still a frightening amount of housework needed to keep the average home running. The “Electrified Kitchen Cabinet” was intended to help the modern housewife solve that problem… in very specific ways. The Kitchen Cabinet could knead bread, chop food, and make ice cream by means of attachable hardware connected to belts and motors. It also had an automatic dishwasher and “a clock to break the circuit and the required moment, so that constant attention to the work in hand is not required.”
2. The great “Sea Tank,” 1917
The plans for the mighty Sea Tank were submitted to the Council of National Defense in 1917. Meant to assist in beach landing offensives (it was referred to as “somewhat” amphibious), the Sea Tank was basically two water wheels with gun turrets for hubcaps, as well as another turret mounted in the center of the axel. The axel would hold the landing crew as well. How was it supposed to move? With some complexity. “Powerful motors mounted on heavily weighted sliding platforms in the lower part of each drum engage cogged rings encircling the inner circumference of the cylinders. In tending to climb the latter they impose weight that revolves the drums and causes paddles to send the craft forward.”
3. Convertible office desk, 1917
While some “almost-inventions” seemed to lay clear paths to failure before they ever came off the drawing board, others really seem like they could have made it. The Convertible Desk is a clever space saver, combining the nooks and crannies of a roll top with the ability to expand usually only found in Grandma’s table at Thanksgiving. Fold the desk top wings once to have downward access to files and assorted necessities, and flip the folds to create a large drawing board.
4. Elevator to Jungfrau summit, 1921
This beautiful piece of engineering might have actually been built if WWI hadn’t come along. The Jungfrau railroad was built over the course of 16 years, finishing in 1912. It was meant to increase tourism to that particular region of the Swiss Alps, by bringing passengers a good deal up the summit of the famous mountain. The elevator was intended to bring them the rest of the way, 2,206 feet straight up. Though the elevator was never made, the Jungfrau train station is still the highest in the word, and its terminus under the mountain contains many caverns and tunnels designed to delight tourists.
5. Personal submergers, 1921
This “Submerging Boat,” meant exclusively for fun and frolic at the beach, falls into the category of “What an incredible idea! That makes no practical sense!” It was neither a real submarine nor a personal speedboat of any merit. The depth it could reach was controlled by four “planes” mounted on the sides of the vehicle, which the driver controlled with foot pedals. The wheel controlled the rudder, and to prevent drowning there was a “buoyant ball mounted on a tubular guide on the stern of the boat.” When the water pressure of the sinking vessel caused the ball to rise too high, it would strike a switch that cuts off the motor, keeping the passenger bobbing shoulder deep in the water.
6. Extendible gunstock for recoil, 1921
The adjustable, shock absorbing gunstock was intended for the lady sportsman, whose love for athletics might not be outweighed by a sore shoulder from that nasty kickback. The stock could be lengthened or shortened to meet personal preferences by means of setscrews, and, reportedly, 70 percent of recoil was absorbed by the springs placed with the setscrews.
7. Elaborate auto bungalow, 1918
This 1918 “Elaborate Auto Bungalow” prototype looks similar to the recreational vehicles that would succeed it decades later. Except this one is quite a bit fancier, used by Captain Charles Percival, Chief of Staff of the U.S. Veterans of Foreign Wars, as he toured the country. It had a hardwood body with room for a typewriter desk, sink, water tank, and cabinets. Ahead of its time, but not by far.
8. Hand-powered velocipede, 1918
In 1918, the newest form of transportation in Paris was the hand-powered buckboard scooter. This “velocipede” was meant to be propelled with the same action as boat rowing, except with handlebars instead of oars. Steering? Why, you’d do that with your feet, of course.
9. 5-in-1 playground, 1918
The 5-in-1 playground is clever — and not even remotely safe. The slide was the starting point for all the other toys. Remove the slide board and place it over the “lower standard,” and you’d have a teeter totter, plus monkey bars where the slide used to be. The board and lower standard could also support a little roller coaster, which was kept on track with flanges. We certainly don’t advocate that talented home craftsmen try to recreate this perilous structure… but we do wish our own dads had thought to do it.