Our world is full of things no one can explain, from mysterious ancient artifacts to really, really basic stuff we totally should have figured out by now. But once in a while, we do find an answer to one of these fascinating mysteries, and that answer is "just plain old stupid bullshit." Here are four intriguing questions that should've remained unanswered (or just four unnecessarily elaborate cover-ups that prove the government has a sense of whimsy).
#4. "River of Blood" Turns Out to Be an Ink Spill
In late December, residents of the English village of Moulton were left somewhat confused and extremely creeped out when they woke up one morning and found that their local brook had been stained with the blood-red shades of murder. Or murders, because seriously, that's a fuckload of red.
"Ugh, the Overlook's septic tank broke again."
The villagers rushed to their laptops and informed various social media outlets of their running river of blood, some comparing it to a horror film and others quoting the Book of Revelations, fearing that it was the first sign of the apocalypse. So what was it? A bleeding whale? A serial killer convention? That creepy clown that recently showed up nearby? Nope, the red coloration was caused by nothing other than an ink spill. So the world won't end, but the villagers may have to endure a red pen shortage for the next decade.
#3. Mysterious Crop Circle Is Just a Publicity Stunt
Another strange event at the end of 2013 that made people think the Mayans may have been off by a year was the mysterious crop circle that popped up in a farmer's barley field in Chualar, California. The design was so intricately done that the farmer told CNN that he was "baffled" by its appearance.
He was immediately given a first-option deal by the History Channel.
Naturally, as soon as the story broke, crop circle experts all over the Internet wrote in-depth analyses that claimed to have decoded the secret alien message in the fields, with some of these Fox Mulders declaring that it meant a bright comet would appear this year (presumably foreshadowing some dragons). It was at this point that tech company Nvidia couldn't contain its giggling any longer and revealed that the crop circle was actually a marketing stunt promoting their latest processing chip. It's unclear if the farmer was in on the joke or if those dicks stomped his barley without telling him.
On the upside, his field can now run Crysis 3 without lag.
#2. World's Strongest Drilling Machine Is Blocked by ... Small Pipe
Several weeks ago, the world's largest tunneling device -- known simply as "Big Bertha" for its intimidating 300 feet of length and five stories of height -- was drilling away a thousand feet below Seattle when it just ... stopped. Again, this is a machine specifically created so that almost nothing could block it. Speculation abounded, with some suggesting that Bertha had bumped into buried train engines or a forgotten piece of Seattle, while others believed it might be a UFO or a slumbering Old God from the Lovecraftian mythos.
"Guys, I think we just circumcised Nyarlathotep."
Some merely referred to the mysterious and presumably enormous blockage as "The Object." However, this month they discovered the real culprit -- a disappointingly small 8-inch-diameter steel pipe, which is apparently the one weakness for massive drilling machines, as well as for the Seattle dudes who had already started referring to their penises as "The Object."
#1. A Centuries-Old Mystery Turns Out to Be Gophers
For the last 150 or so years, the phenomenon known as Mima mounds has baffled both laymen and experts -- they're giant hills of soil that bubble out of the ground as if the Earth itself were going through puberty. The hills have been observed to grow 8 feet high and 30 feet wide, with hundreds of them together on certain fields. How are they formed? Take your pick: Possible explanations include earthquakes, tsunamis, floods, and, obviously, UFOs.
Washington State DNR
"The whole planet was once covered by them, and the aliens would pop them like our Earth bubble wrap."
Finally, last month it took an advanced computer program to figure out that the Mima mounds are formed by fantastical creatures known as gophers. They're giant gopher homes, apparently. The researchers found that the mounds are the product of 500 to 700 years' worth of generation after generation of gophers piling soil onto their homes, because they have a slight hoarding problem. On the downside, this discovery will undoubtedly vindicate conspiracy wingnuts who blame everything on gophers (and further fuel their theories concerning the grassy knoll).
The third part of XJ's epic science fiction novel is out now on Amazon. The first novella can be found here FOR FREE THIS WEEK, with Part 2 out here. Or leave a review and get a free copy! Poke him on Twitter and follow him on Facebook.