We have more trust in science than ever before. If at any time we come across a phenomenon we just can't explain, we can confidently turn to Neil deGrasse Tyson to tell us what's what, instead of cracking each other's heads open and feasting on the knowledge within. But there are still some places in the world that defy explanation, and while we're not saying these are proof that wizards exist and are screwing with us 24/7, we're still fascinated by ...
5The Hessdalen Lights
For decades, locals of the Hessdalen Valley in Norway have been living in an episode of The X-Files. Night after night, strange lights appear in the sky, dance around in patterns, and even flash in different colors. And this isn't just a couple of drunken Euro hillbillies taking grainy pictures of hubcaps. Science confirms the Hessdalen Lights are a real thing, and they don't know what causes them.
But now you know the Norwegian word for "fuuuuuuuuuuuuck."
Their guesses about what's really going on are at least as crazy as the lights themselves. One frightening theory, which has been given some credence by a few tests, is that the valley is actually highly radioactive. Radon piggybacks on dust particles until it gets up in the atmosphere and decays, producing the lights. If this is true, then it's bad news for local residents -- radon generally isn't a "party" element. Luckily there has been little-to-no reported upsurge in local Hulkism.
The fjord trolls are as baffled as anyone.
Stretching even further for an explanation, some scientists think that the valley might actually be one enormous C cell battery. It's been established that one wall of the valley is rich with copper deposits, and the other is rich with zinc, and that's pretty much the basic composition of batteries. All it would need is some kind of acid to connect the two sides and some way of charging, and you'd have the makings for a neat magic trick, like producing sparks in the atmosphere that look like an alien invasion.
Or you can just take some acid yourself and see the same thing.
The river at the base of the valley contains sulfuric acid, leached from a nearby sulfur mine. And as for the charge, the theory points out that light activity increases around the time of the aurora borealis, which is essentially the universe's way of opening up the back of the remote and spinning the battery around a bit to get that last little charge out.
When the universe pops that battery into a vibrator, we get a supernova.
Or ... it could be super bored aliens. We're not actually sure which is more scientifically plausible.
4The Sleep Epidemic Of Kazakhstan
Kazakhstan has one notable claim to fame -- well, more a plague on mankind than something to be proud of, really. No, we're not talking about Borat impressions; we're referring to a mysterious epidemic that reportedly causes fatigue, memory loss, hallucinations, and most strangely, long bouts of unexpected narcolepsy.
"I- I missed my sweet 16?"
Over the past few years, hundreds of residents of Kalachi have reported dropping unconscious, seemingly at random. The problem became so prolific that Kazakhstan even evacuated the town's inhabitants. The leading hypothesis is that the residents of Kalachi are suffering the effects of radiation poisoning, since the town is close to a uranium mine that adheres to the stringent regulations you could expect from Kazakhstan. But there are holes in that theory, not the least of which is the neighboring town -- even closer to the mine -- that hasn't reported nearly as much unwelcome power-napping.
"Hulkism, yes. Napping, no."
Also, all of the blood tests have turned out normal, which leads some to believe that the situation might be a case of good old-fashioned hysteria -- that is to say that, due to the town's reputation, anyone who falls asleep on the job is likely to blame it on the mysterious sleeping sickness rather than having stayed up all night playing Skyrim.