No one can deny the attraction of a mystery. They make the mind spin with questions, ideas and possibilities. Be they mere curiosities or things of a more sinister nature, everyone becomes enthralled by a good mystery. In honor of Halloween and for the love of all things that go bump in the night I give you Part I of my 10 favorite mysteries of all time. You can catch Part II mid-November. So without further ado…Let the mystery begin!
1) The Dogon & The Mystery of Sirius
The Dogon, a tribe in Africa, have long possessed something confounding to scientists…advanced astronomical knowledge of the Dog Star System. First recorded by anthropologists in 1931 and then in more depth in 1946, the Dogon people told their ancient stories of frog-like men (known as the Nommo) that came to earth and taught them, in great detail, about Sirius (aka the Dog Star system).
They knew that it was a binary star system.
They had knowledge of the orbital patterns.
They knew that Sirius B was a white dwarf.
They even make mention of the existence of a third star in the system, a very dim but large star they named Emme Ya.
Gravitational studies conducted in 1995 provided evidence of a large brown dwarf star that could possibly be in orbit around Sirius. How these people, without the aid of instruments or technology, were able to know such detailed information about a star system that is virtually invisible to the naked eye is still a mystery…unless, of course, you accept the tales of the Nommo.
2) The Foo Fighters
A strange phenomena occurred in the skies during the dogfights of World War II. Pilots on both sides of the war reported strange lights that appeared to be under intelligent control. The lights came to be known as “foo fighters,” a term coined by the U.S. 415th Night Fighter Squadron. The foo fighters would appear while pilots were in the air and would exhibit rather strange behavior for balls of light…behavior such as:
following and flying alongside planes
matching the pilots movements while they attempted evasive maneuvers such as sharply banked turns & nosedives
The foos’ appearances weren’t confined to Europe. They were also seen in the Pacific theater. No shots were ever fired by the foo and they caused no harm to the pilots they encountered. Each side assumed the craft belonged to the enemy but to this day no one claims ownership of the strange craft. The origin and nature of the foo fighters of World War II remain a mystery.
3) Jack the Ripper
Jack the Ripper is the name given to a serial killer who stalked the dark streets and alleys of the Whitechapel district of London during 1888. Preying exclusively on prostitutes in Whitechapel, which was teaming with them (one count estimates that there were at least 1200 prostitutes and 62 brothels in operation at the time of the murders), the total number of lives he took is still debated but there are 5 murders (known as the “canonical 5”) which experts agree were the work of the brutal killer. The canonical 5 are (in order):
Mary Ann Nichols (died August 31, 1888 in Buck’s Row)
Annie Chapman (died September 8, 1888 at 29 Hanbury Street, Spitalfields)
Elizabeth Stride (died September 30, 1888 in Dutfield’s Yard)
Catherine Eddowes (died September 30, 1888 in Mitre Square)
Mary Jane Kelly (died November 9, 1888 at 13 Miller’s Court, Spitalfields)
The crimes were, in all honesty, so brutal, so horrific that I won’t go into any detail. There is ample documentation available should you choose to further research the subject.
The police investigations were truly exhaustive, investigating all butchers, doctors, and surgeons (as well as all their employees) in the area. Private citizens formed nightly patrols to keep watch for any suspicious individuals who might be the culprit. Their efforts were to no avail. Considered by many to be the greatest mystery of all time, Jack the Ripper has never been identified. The current list of suspects contains the names of well over one hundred people. It is incredibly unlikely that the true identity of the twisted individual will ever be known. One can only hope that the spirits of those he slaughtered have found peace on the other side.
4) The Battle of Los Angeles
If you are like most people you associate The Battle of Los Angeles with one of two things: either the 1999 album of the same name by Rage Against the Machine or the 2011 film staring Aaron Eckhart. Few people know there was a real Battle of Los Angeles in the early morning hours of February 25, 1942 which left 5 dead and an entire city in a panic.
At 2:15 am an unidentified object was picked up on radar approximately 120 miles west of LA. Moments later antiaircraft batteries were ordered to be ready to fire. By 2:21 the object was within mere miles of the coast and a citywide blackout was ordered. The object then disappeared off radar…but that didn’t stop it from being seen by observers. Calls reporting objects in the night sky began flooding in. The reports came in from Long Beach, LA and Santa Monica. Then the 37th Coast Artillery Brigade opened fire.
The night sky was alight as anti-aircraft shells were fired at the mysterious craft in the sky. As for the particulars of the event, accounts vary drastically. The military states that it was nothing more than a weather balloon (the government sure does seem to love the weather balloon excuse. It leaves me a little concerned that our military leaders have so much difficulty distinguishing between weather balloons and actual manned aircraft…I’m just sayin’…) and “war nerves” that created the panic that night. Many civilian eye witnesses state that there was a craft that was successfully gunned down and subsequently crashed into the ocean just off the coast. There are others who even claim the craft was recovered and that they have witnessed the wreckage first hand. The only thing that anyone knows for sure is that this mysterious footnote in American history left 5 dead from friendly fire and millions of people scratching their heads over what was in the sky that night.
5) The Oak Island Money Pit
Off the coast of Nova Scotia lies a little island known as Oak Island. In 1795 Daniel McGinnis made an interesting discovery on the 140 acre island. After seeing strange lights over the island the 18 year old went to investigate. What he found has led to over 200 years of excavation and intrigue.
Situated on the southeast end of the island was a large circular depression. He, along with some friends, decided to excavate the area. What they found was rather unusual. A few feet from the surface they found a layer of flagstone and obvious pick marks on the walls of the pit. As they continued to dig they discovered layers of logs approximately every 10 feet. At 30 feet they called it quits, but news of the odd pit spread and brought others to investigate.
Subsequent excavations have revealed some unusual discoveries:
layers of logs every 10 feet that gave way to layers of charcoal, putty and coconut fiber
a large stone with symbols carved into it
a large spruce platform at 98 feet followed by empty space, 22 inches of metal shards, 8 inches of oak, another 22 inches of metal shards, more wood layers and then clay
red paint that was poured into the pit was found to have leaked out at 3 separate exit points around the island
cameras that were sent down in 1971 reportedly reveal human remains, chests and other artifacts
The pit has claimed the lives of 6 people and has had such noteworthy individuals as Franklin D. Roosevelt and John Wayne involved in the excavation efforts.
So why all the fuss over an odd and ridiculously deep pit?
The pit is believed by many to house a buried treasure. Some believe it to be pirate treasure belonging to either Blackbeard or Captain Kidd (which may explain the coconut fibers that were discovered). Other theories of what lay buried in the pit include Marie Antoinette’s jewels, secrets of the Freemasons and even the Holy Grail or the Arc of the Covenant. The pit fails to be completely excavated due to issues involving flooding and expense. We may never know what secrets it houses.