We at Cracked aren't going to be satisfied until we've sucked every last mystery from the world like the final gurgling slurps of a milkshake. Thus, here are seven mysteries that have enthralled human imagination for decades -- if not centuries -- that were actually solved long ago. Hint: The solution never involves magic.
7The Shroud of Turin
It's the ultimate religious artifact of our times, considering we still haven't found the Holy Grail yet. According to legend, Jesus was wrapped in a burial shroud after his crucifixion, and it retained the ghostly image of his face.
The shroud, mentioned only vaguely in the Bible, resurfaced in the possession of a knight in Lirey, France, in the year 1390 and made its way across churches in Europe. It eventually ended up in a chapel in Turin, Italy, after a fire damaged it in 1532. It remains there to this day and has since become known as the Shroud of Turin.
Wow, upping the contrast on a coffee stain can really work miracles.
It's considered one of the most holy relics in existence, and Pope Benedict XVI has declared it the authentic burial robe of Christ.
Unfortunately, it appears that the Church has been taken in by a 600-year-old hoax. In 1988, Oxford University in England, the Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, Switzerland, and Tucson University in Arizona performed radiocarbon dating and found that the shroud was dated to around the 14th century -- the same time that it mysteriously appeared.
Be honest. You all wish those hands weren't there so we could see what the King of Kings is packing.
But even if the shroud is a medieval hoax, how was it created? According to Luigi Garlaschelli, a professor of chemistry at the University of Pavia, it was pretty simple. Using a linen sheet laid over a volunteer and an acidic pigment (tactics and materials available to a 14th century forger), then artificially aging the cloth to make it appear a couple hundred years old, he and his students created a pretty damn impressive replica of the shroud in 2009.
If the messiah was Hulk Hogan.
That very same year, an authentic tomb from the actual time of Jesus was unearthed in Jerusalem, and archaeologists found a dead aristocrat wrapped in a shroud made from far less advanced a textile than the Shroud of Turin, which seems to use weaving techniques not found in the time of Jesus. So we'd have to believe that a really rich dude was somehow unable to afford the same super-shroud as a local carpenter who died a penniless criminal.
Oh yeah, and then there's the accusation that Church authorities in the 1300s knew the shroud was a hoax and actually had a confession from the unnamed artist who faked it.
"Also, keep spreading the word that Jesus was a white guy."
Generally speaking, auras are, you know, the manifestation of universal energy that, like, surrounds us all, man. And for a fee, professional aura readers who butcher the Papyrus font can take a look at your aura and tell you exactly what your spiritual malaise is based upon their handy color chart.
"I see sadness, and also that you need to replace your camera lens."
Those aura photographs can be taken with a kind of device that runs a current through your body. Not strong enough to kill you usually, just enough to bring out that spiritual energy. And for years, scientists didn't know what the hell it was. Maybe it was magic.
Turns out it's regular, old-fashioned sweat.
The electrical photographic method actually just brings out the outline of whatever it's observing in a beautiful neon glow. In the case of human beings, it also captures the cloud of sweat floating around the filthy, filthy hippie in question. The effect is much more dramatic if the subject is keen and nervous about, well, having an electric current shot through his body.
"Huh. Looks like you're feeling very apple today."
But there are some other explanations for why auras have featured prominently in iconography even before this neat camera trick. Visions of auras can be caused by defects in your own eye, brought to you by medical conditions such as migraines, epilepsy and eye burns. This is something even aura believers admit.
It also works if you rub your eyes really hard for about four minutes.
Still, there's something to be taken home from all this -- if you're into that sort of thing, you now have a way to know exactly what color your sweat is.