One of our favorite pastimes here at Cracked is sucking the mystery out of life like the cream out of a Twinkie, leaving only the bland, dry sponge cake of reality behind. To that end, we've decided to list the often mundane solutions to some of the world's most enduring mysteries, and once again, you're welcome.
The disappearance of Amelia Earhart is probably the most well-known mystery in the world that doesn't involve Tom Hanks looking for clues in old paintings. In 1936, Earhart planned to reserve herself a page in the record books by flying around the world; a 29,000-mile journey. On the last 7,000-mile leg of her second attempt in 1937, she disappeared after giving her last radio transmission. The transmission was not anything helpful like, "I'm going to try to just fly through this mountain. I saw it in a cartoon once."
More has been speculated about her disappearance than has probably been written about her life. One of the more epic theories is that Earhart and her navigator, Fred Noonan, went down over part of the Japanese Empire and were captured, interrogated as spies and executed. Some assert that she was actually a spy for President Roosevelt, and that she secretly lived to the end of her days in New Jersey. Still others, with less imagination, think that she deliberately flew her plane into the Pacific because fuck it.
Maybe her gigantic head popped at high altitude.
Remarkably, we've pretty much had the Earhart mystery solved ever since partial remains were found on an island... in 1940. That's right, 70 years ago. Only four years after she vanished.
To be fair, half of the bones were carried away by giant crabs, and the rest have since been lost because nobody thought it was important or even curious that a skeleton should turn up on an island just southeast of where Amelia freaking Earhart was going. Neither did it strike a chord that the remains turned out to be those of a white woman with Earhart's measurements, or that they were found alongside a pocket knife, a broken cosmetics jar, a piece of glass from an airplane windshield and the same exact type of navigational system Earhart had been using. It's inconclusive, dammit!
The truth is out there. And we won't rest until we find it, or we get too drunk to remember how to spell "Eaerhurt."
Even though all of this evidence is circumstantial, it's a freaking slam-dunk compared to what we have been forced to swallow from conspiracy theorists, who rank Earhart's disappearance right up there with the mystery of the Mary Celeste.
Which reminds us...
In 1872, the ship was spotted off the Azores in the Atlantic completely intact and undisturbed, aside from its missing crew. Not a single person, alive or dead or undead, could be found, despite everyone's personal belongings still sitting undisturbed where they had been left. Even little things like valuables and piano music were right where they should have been. It was as if its crew had simply evaporated.
The strange case of the disappearing crew of the merchant ship Mary Celeste is not only the most famous maritime mystery in history, it is the episode which served as midwife to the Bermuda Triangle hysteria.
We are through the looking glass here, people.
So how did everyone just vanish? Ghosts? Aliens? Sea monsters? Dimensional vortex? According to the History Channel, yes. After all, the case has proven a tough one to crack. All the ship's papers were missing, but the logbook was still safe and sound. Piracy is unlikely since there were no signs of a struggle and no booty missing. The main hatch was sealed, and there were no storms or time/space disruptions reported in the area.
Reports of elevated Old One activity remain unconfirmed.
Scientists now point to the one baffling clue that the ship left us with: Of its cargo of 1,701 barrels of alcohol, nine were empty. We know what you're thinking: The crew threw their captain overboard so that they could get drunk off raw alcohol and take the lifeboat out for a joyride, which went splendidly until they crashed it into a whale. Sounds like one hell of an interesting weekend, but the truth is actually a billion times more awesome.
You all ready for this?
The single greatest maritime mystery in history is now believed to have been the subject of one of the most incredible explosions in the history of alcohol. Dr. Andrea Sella, a professor of chemistry at University College London, created a replica of the Mary Celeste's hold back in 2006 just so he could find a MacGyverish way to blow it up without leaving a single sign of a fire. He simulated a leak of the ship's nine barrels of alcohol and found that once the vapor was ignited, say by a pipe or a spark, it created a "pressure-wave type of explosion... There was a spectacular wave of flame but, behind it, was relatively cool air. No soot was left behind and there was no burning or scorching."
Dr. Andrea Sella.
That's right, the Mary Celeste was likely subject to a freaky ghost explosion powerful enough to blow open all the hatches, but ultimately leave everyone and everything on the boat completely unharmed. The crew, however, would have experienced a freakout akin to when the Nazis opened the Ark of the Covenant.
It appears the missing crew were so utterly horrified that they piled into the ship's lifeboat without any useful things like food or water, eventually sinking or dying of thirst and exposure. Yes, the Mary Celeste would have still looked perfectly fine as they sailed off into Death's open arms, but ask yourself: Would you have volunteered to go back onto that ship?
Atlantis sure is one hell of a tantalizing story. First documented by the ancient Greek philosophers, it serves constantly as a warning for modern society against every possible threat from war to climate change to alien invasion, where applicable. They were the most advanced civilization on Earth, but even they couldn't stop whatever catastrophe managed to sink their island into the Atlantic. For centuries we have dreamed about finding this lost city and unlocking the secrets to its fate, so that we might prevent the same thing happening to us!
And make an Indiana Jones video game with a better plot than two of the movies.
Unfortunately, the search for Atlantis has yielded exactly no results ever. Plato is pretty much all we have to work with, and he's too dead to return any of our calls. However, this hasn't stopped proponents of the theory of the lost city to draw fancy maps of it, which sure does feel like a step in the right direction for some reason.
The fact that they avoided Oklahoma is clear evidence of their status as a super-advanced society.
Nevertheless, Atlantis has turned into a bit of a super-conspiracy theory which absorbs just about anything you throw at it, and has served as a tentative answer to basically every other mystery in this article.
Atlantis is not a thing.
First of all, our knowledge of plate tectonics rules out the possibility of sunken mystery continents. But there's a far more convincing reason than even this: That is, Atlantis was something that Plato completely pulled out of his ass just so Socrates could have something to talk about, and he specifically mentions in his writing that Atlantis is a completely hypothetical city.
"No one will take this 'Atlantis' shit seriously. They'd have to be even more drunk and ignorant than ancient Greeks."
This is part of the reason why Atlantis was not taken seriously until modern times. Most ancients actually took Plato's dialogues as the thought experiments they really were.
What's more, the book that mentions Atlantis, the Timaeus, is fewer than 100 pages long. This is shit you can seriously knock out while you're killing time at the bus station. Though it should not come as much surprise that countless books and god knows how many hours of the History Channel have been dedicated to asking a riddle as easy to solve as looking up a word in the dictionary. It's pretty damn easy to pass yourself as an expert in a book that most people have never actually read past the first few pages.
The History Channel: For People Who Hate Reading.