10 Famous Unsolved Mysteries Easily Explained by Science

The world is full of mysteries, and the human race loves nothing better than to find answers to them. Frequently, though, the answers aren't as popular as the mysteries themselves, and people will just continue right on believing, even when the evidence is right there, why don't you just look?! Just look, you bastard!

#10.
Cattle Mutilation

The Mystery

There have been numerous reports of cattle mutilation -- that is, unexplainably dead cows turning up with odd wounds that look to be surgically precise. Their bodies have been split open, and the soft organs inside have been removed. Their eyes, tongues, genitals and anuses may also have been removed. But the most unusual element of all, and the thing that really sets off the Crazy Alarms in people's heads, is that the bodies are always mysteriously drained of blood.

Getty
Although the phrase "missing genitals" would drain our blood, too.

Clearly, it's vampires. Or else aliens are doing it to study the cows. Maybe satanic cults are committing ritualistic sacrifices. No, wait: It's unseen monsters like El Chupacabra that are feasting on the livestock!

Well, something is happening, goddamn it.

The Solution

In the 1970s, the ATF and even the FBI investigated the cattle-mutilation phenomenon. Their results? They found no evidence of anything other than natural causes and the occasional psychopath. No cult activity, no aliens, no monsters.

Getty
No missing sisters, no cigarette-smoking men, no hot redheads. Working in the FBI is surprisingly dull.

Natural causes that appear as surgical wounds? What about the removed organs? How is that possible? In most cases, scavengers such as foxes, buzzards and other critters that like beef au natural saunter by the decomposing corpse and have a bite or two -- thus the organ removal.

The surgical look comes later, when insects chew at the edges of the wounds. See, flies like soft foods, because flies don't have teeth. Same reason we go to Taco Bell: no standards and less work. And also much like Taco Bell, they prefer the softer parts of the animal: eyes, tongues, genitals, anuses and the rough edges of those aforementioned scavenger wounds. Also, if the animal's been lying around for long enough (or even short periods in the hot sun), it'll bloat and burst open, often with very clean, surgical-looking tears. And then come the maggots, which eat anything they can get their little teeth on.

Via The Telegraph
We just knew you needed to see this again.

They'll chew up whatever's left of those organs and drink the animal's blood, which typically pools to the bottom of the corpse, giving it that nice, cleanly drained look. Look, don't believe us (we certainly don't make a habit out of it), but what better way to demonstrate than a little field experiment? In 1979, an Arkansas sheriff named Herb Marshall got a bunch of complaints about cattle mutilation in his jurisdiction. So he got the idea to take a dead cow, plop it down in a field and film it for 48 hours in what was undoubtedly the worst two-day stakeout since Another 48 Hrs. After the elements and various creatures were done with it, the stakeout cow was indistinguishable from any other animal that had been "mutilated."


Or Nick Nolte's career.

#9.
The Nazca Lines of Peru

The Mystery

The Nazca Lines of Peru were discovered in the 1930s, which, coincidentally enough, was right around the time people started flying planes high enough to see them. Much like the time we tried to confess our love to Cindy Lansmoore in 10-foot-high flaming letters on her lawn, ancient man, too, had a thing for crazy imagery that could only be seen from above. The Nazca Lines are large geoglyphs made of shallow lines dug into the earth, revealing the white ground beneath the red rocks that normally cover the area. Some are as large as 900 feet across, and the entire canvas area is about 190 square miles total, or slightly larger than the city of New Orleans.

Via lucdgbxl
Why, yes, that is a 100-foot-man waving at you.

So how did ancient, technologically deprived people build these things accurately, when we could spot them only after we successfully harnessed the power of flight? Some people believe they were either built by or were landing strips intended for visitors from another world. Author Jim Woodman thinks they might have been created by way of rudimentary hot air balloons that could give their passengers a larger view of the landscape. The pilot would direct the artists down below -- presumably by yelling really loudly (unless they also built rudimentary walkie-talkies).

Via theboywiththethorninhisside
"I SAID LEFT, YOU BASTARDS! LE- OH, VERY FUNNY -- I HOPE THAT'S A SECOND TAIL OR YOU'RE FIRED."

The Solution

Woodman actually went out of his way to make a functioning balloon from the materials the Nazca people would have had, and while that's incredibly awesome, there's no evidence that the Nazca had even the vaguest concept of balloons.

Via nott.com
Still, if they did, this would make an awesome ancient South American birthday party.

But there were wooden stakes in the ground that have been carbon-dated to the time of the Nazca, and some researchers speculate that the Nazca may have simply drawn long ropes between the stakes to create the Nazca Lines. Dr. Joe Nickell of the University of Kentucky decided to make some Nazca Lines of his very own, using only methods and equipment the Nazca would have had handy. So three men and an 11-year-old kid set out to make a giant bird in a landfill, and in only a few hours, they did just that.

No aliens -- just a bunch of sweaty dudes who dig birds.

Via Joe Nickell
Literally.

#8.
Klerksdorp Spheres

The Mystery

Klerksdorp spheres, winners of the fiercely competitive "least sexy name in geology" award, are small, rounded, disc-shaped rocks found in a single mine in South Africa. They're described as being perfectly concentric, hard as steel and balanced to a degree that not even NASA can calculate. In fact, NASA has allegedly said that they could only have been constructed in a zero-gravity environment. Also, they've been carbon-dated as being nearly 3 billion years old. Speculation about their creators ranges from an ancient but unspeakably advanced ancestor of humanity to aliens to the followers of the Mighty Klerksdorp, He Who Devours.

Via Wikipedia
Made from the remains of his victims, presumably.

The Solution

We should start by saying that they're not perfectly round: Many are disc-shaped, and they're often intergrown with other stones. They're not as hard as steel, either. Steel's hardness varies depending on alloy, and Klerksdorp spheres are by no means unnaturally hard (tee hee!). They rate about 4 or 5 on the Mohs scale, which is only about halfway up the chart, far below steel's 6 or 7. Also, NASA has never examined them: That's Internet bullshit tacked onto the original information. That's what the Internet does -- you get a free bonus prize of Stupid Lies with every box of Delicious Facts.

Getty
"Can be eaten as part of a healthy lifestyle. Massively unsuitable for children."

However, the fact that they're 3 billion years old is true. Klerksdorp spheres are actually the product of a completely natural process known as concretion. Basically, they're just plain old sedimentary rocks that happen to look cool. Don't thank aliens -- thank good old Mother Nature.

Do it.

For the love of God, do it, or she'll sic Australia on you.

Getty
Ta-da!

#7.
Ball Lightning

The Mystery

Ball lightning is kind of like regular lightning, only in convenient travel-ready ball shape. People have been seeing the stuff since the 17th century. There's even some speculation that UFOs are actually misidentified ball lightning. The phenomenon is frequently described as traveling through solid matter, like walls, and has actually killed people. But what is it? Is it just regular lightning with a childlike sense of play? Did God lose his bouncy ball? Is it the disembodied, roving testicle of Thor? It's totally that last one, isn't it?

Via AstronomySquared
Photos that show the phenomenon in action certainly have the same picture quality as ancient porn anyway.

The Solution

In 2007, Brazilian scientists discovered that passing large amounts of electricity through a silicon wafer creates a vapor that, once cool, condenses into an aerosol that glows when recombining with oxygen. The result is tiny balls of electricity that "move erratically about the lab, rolling around on the floor, bouncing off objects, and burning whatever they touch."

Via ttyler1999
The only scenario imaginable where it's kind of badass to wear sandals.

You can watch a video of it right here. Those scientists now think that ball lightning occurs when regular lightning strikes ground rich in quartz, or silica (like you find in sand). Other scientists have agreed with the Brazilian group's findings, including John Abrahamson of the University of Canterbury in New Zealand, who said, "Their balls are of sufficient duration and size to enter the mainstream ... seen in nature." Immediately followed by "What? What did I say? What's so funny? Guys?"

#6.
Mystery Spots

The Mystery

Mystery spots are little roadside joints you'll find dotting all of America's interstate system. The most famous is the creatively named The Mystery Spot near Santa Cruz, Calif. For a modest entrance fee, you can personally experience a variety of odd phenomena: Water runs up an incline, people stand on the walls, balls roll uphill, and to put it technically, your shit just goes all bananas everywhere.

Via Richard Masoner
Water running up, human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together ... mass hysteria!

The owners of The Mystery Spot describe it as a "gravitational anomaly." They speculate that this is probably the result of "cones of metal that were secretly brought here and buried in our earth as guidance systems for [alien] spacecraft." And your bananas-going shit is probably too busy with its own problems to argue with them.

The Solution

If you hadn't noticed from the pictures, everything looks a bit tilted in these places. That's because it is. In fact, it's even more tilted than it looks.

Via Seth Mazow
Scene from Inception 2: Lil' Inceptioneers

Once you're inside, you're unable to establish any kind of horizon or to orient yourself properly, so you have no real way of telling that mystery spot buildings can be tilted by as much as 20 degrees. Berkeley scientists wanted to know just how much the tilt and lack of proper perspective messes with your perception, and they discovered that just looking into a tilted room can dramatically distort your vision. If you're in the room and your body is also tilted, the effect is doubled or even tripled. Things that look like level fields are not, and you even have trouble distinguishing uphill from downhill. So when you're watching a spout of water appear to flow up an inclined pipe, you think you're seeing this:

But you're really seeing this:

And when you think you're seeing this:

You're really seeing this:

All via sandlotscience

There's nothing inherently mysterious about the spot; somebody just built an exceptionally shitty house and charged you to look at it.

Getty
We have more interesting DIY accidents every weekend.

Recommended For Your Pleasure

To turn on reply notifications, click here

1,159 Comments

The Cracked Podcast

Choosing to "Like" Cracked has no side effects, so what's the worst that could happen?

The Weekly Hit List

Sit back... Relax... We'll do all the work.
Get a weekly update on the best at Cracked. Subscribe now!