4 Mysteries That Can Only Be Explained by Fiction
The world is full of deep pockets of weirdness. Some of the great mysteries have really mundane explanations. The chupacabra is just a coyote with mange, that skeleton they found on that Pacific island in 1940 was Amelia Earhart's, Nickelback's success is maintained by sacrificing a child to Asmodeus once a year. However, there are stories that take everything you know about reality and twist it into an unholy balloon animal.
When science fails and religion is at a loss, then it's good to know we can turn to the world of fiction to explain away the terror...or make it even worse. Really, it's a toss-up depending on who's telling the story. Still, an explanation by fiction is better than no explanation at all, right?
The Mystery: In 1900, sponge divers discovered a ship wreck from over a hundred years before the birth of Christ off of the coast of the Greek island of Antikythera. In the wreck they found the remains of a computer... a real computer. Not all that different from what we wrote this sentence on.
The Antikythera Mechanism was likely a Greek invention, or at least whoever built it wrote the instructions in Greek, and was used to calculate the position of heavenly bodies simply by entering a date. You might recognize that as a freakin' iPhone app. Plus, the technology and miniaturization used in the mechanism involves techniques that don't reappear in the historic record until the 14th century, and utilizes application of physical laws not written until Isaac Newton.
Fictional Explanation: The Time Traveler never returns in H. G. Wells's novel The Time Machine. He pops home just long enough to tell about his adventure in the future, have dinner and then he's off again. The book's narrator states that the Time Traveler wasn't heard from again. We can only assume he visited Ancient Greece, his machine broke down and he died attempting to rebuild the technology.
The Mystery: In 1518, citizens of Strasbourg, France danced themselves to death. One by one people would join in the gyrations until they fell from exhaustion, starvation or strokes. The outbreak lasted over a month and involved 400 people.
Now, this is a time period when the cause of every disease was believed to be having too much blood. So a group of nobles did some brilliant extrapolation and decided that instead of getting out the evil blood, they would just force them to dance off the disease. Victims were herded into two dance halls, and minstrels played around the clock. Then one day they just stopped. Explanations range from hallucinogenic mold to epilepsy to a repressed pagan ritual to the wrath of St. Vitus.
Fictional Explanation: The demon Sweet from Buffy the Vampire Slayer used this exact M.O. He would appear and turn whatever town he'd landed in into a song and dance musical until people spontaneously combusted. Apparently he's been at it awhile.
The Mystery: Earlier this month a 33-ton Sei whale was found in a Yorkshire field half a mile inland. Whales, as you may know, have been known to beach themselves for one reason or another, but either this one managed to hit a really sweet ramp jump in her attempt or something else truly bizarre is going on. North Seas manager at Yorkshire Wildlife Trust Kirsten Smith believes that the whale was searching for food when a particularly powerful high tide managed to strand her where she was found. That's one explanation. On the other hand...
Fictional Explanation: When the main cast of Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy has two thermonuclear missiles fired at them, they turn on their improbability drive for a brief second in a last-minute desperate attempt to not be killed. The improbability drive transforms the missiles into a flower pot and a whale. The whale muses on its new existence long enough to wonder whether the large object rushing at it, which it names "ground," will be its friend.
The flower pot merely says, "Not again." Before also plummeting to Earth as well.
If you can read spectrograms, you probably just screamed like a little girl.
The Mystery: The United States has powerful microphones pointed all over the oceans in order to detect threats. In 1997 they found one, an enormous low-frequency noise they nicknamed the Bloop that had all the audio earmarks of a biological signal. The problem is that an animal able to generate such a noise would have to be several times larger than a blue whale. Oh, by the way, they did pinpoint the origin of the noise, roughly 50° S 100° W. You want to know what else is located there?
Fictional Explanation: R'Lyeh, the sunken city that housed Lovecraft's Cthulhu. Lovecraft gave the city's coordinates in Call of Cthulhu as 47°9′S 126°43′W. That means the author could have predicted where the Bloop would come from as close as 500 miles based on science's estimate. The dead dreamer awakes! We will all be consumed by his mad hunger!
Get the ICYMI: Today's Top Stories Newsletter Our daily newsletter delivers quick clicks to keep you in the know
Catch up on the day's news and stay informed with our daily digest of the most popular news, music, food and arts stories in Houston, delivered to your inbox Monday through Friday.