The curiosity of a human being is bigger than the universe itself. Since we started roaming this beautiful planet, we have uncovered secrets and answers to things we never imagined to be possible. Yet, with all the advancements in scientific technologies, there are things that are unexplainable by even the most prolific scientists. One reason is that such things only happened once or twice, as we know it. Here, we are listing 10 such phenomena that has surprised science as well as humanity.
1. The dancing plague
Back in the 16th century in Strasbourg, something strange happened. For unknown reasons, around 400 men and women of all ages started dancing and laughing hysterically. According to the BBC, it all started with a woman named Frau Troffea, who started dancing, clapping and laughing without rest, for six solid days. Within a week, 34 onlookers joined her and the number quickly rose. By the end of the month, there were 400 people dancing and laughing in the streets for no apparent reason.
The town officials even tried to play music, hoping that by the end of the play everyone would stop dancing and return to their normal lives. The plan however backfired since more people started joining the large crowd of dancers. Although there is no explanation as to what caused the dancing plague, there is a theory that it was caused by the overwhelming living standards of the poor population of Strasbourg.
2. The “Wow!” signal
Almost 50 years ago, a mysterious radio signal from space was detected by a telescope called “The Big Ear” at The Ohio State University. The signal was unlike others observed in space since it was stronger and lasted for 72 seconds. According to LiveScience, “it was also a narrow-bandwidth signal; the range of frequencies it covered was small, similar to those of artificial signals. Further, the signal was at a frequency of about 1,420 megahertz (MHz), also called the 21-centimeter line”. The signal was never observed again and efforts to rediscover it was fruitless. While there are theories that the signal could have been generated by a passing comet, scientists say that it is simply not possible since comets don’t emit radio waves in the right way.
3. Mississippi river flowing backward
The Mississippi River is one of the world’s major river systems in size, habitat diversity and biological productivity. In 2012, US Geological Survey (USGS) instruments at Belle Chasse in Louisiana recorded that a powerful storm forced it to run backwards. The BBC reports that the flow reached nearly 5,200 cubic meters per second (182,000 cubic feet per second) upriver, with a height of nearly 3m (10ft) above average. “This reversal of flow of the mighty Mississippi is but one measure of the extreme force of Hurricane Isaac,” said USGS director Marcia McNutt. This is not the first time the world’s fourth-longest river reversed its flow. The strange phenomenon happened once in 2005 and in 1812 when the flow was reversed for several hours.
4. The Carrington event
A massive solar storm once engulfed the Earth and caused some damage to our old time innovations and technology. Known as the Carrington Event, the event took place on September 1st, 1859, when the first telegraph lines and electrical grids were getting laid down. British astronomer Richard Carrington turned his solar telescope to the Sun, and observed the unprecedented activity on the surface of the Sun. He took time to sketch the abnormality and about 5 minutes later, aurora activity erupted across the entire planet. According to reports, the auroras were so bright, you could observe it from every corner on Earth.
The auroras were in fact a result of the most powerful solar flare ever observed. Although it did not have much impact on our old time technology back then, today, humanity relies mostly on cable towers and hundreds of satellites flying overhead. If such a solar flare happened today, it would disrupt our entire communication system.
5. The curved trees in the ‘Dancing Forest’ in Russia
Nicknamed the “Dancing Forest” by residents, this area in Kaliningrad is filled with pine trees that are contorted into spirals, rings, and other configurations. The trees are believed to be planted somewhere around the 1960’s, and are the only known tree species to ever do this. According to Atlas Obscura, some theories include extreme winds, unstable soil, and interference from caterpillars. However, the exact reason as to why the trees grow contorted only in this region remains shrouded in mystery.
6. Hundreds of unintelligible signals from space arriving Earth
Unlike the “WOW” signal, Fast Radio Bursts (FRBs) are brief, brilliant emissions of radio light that release enough energy to power 500 million suns. According to astronomers, one happens almost every second, but to this day, less than 100 have been detected or identified. At the same time, a Fast Radio Burst, FRB 121102, which originated outside of our Milky Way, is the only signal that has shown up more than once from the same location. Astronomers believe the signal to be originating from young a neutron star, which is one of the densest objects in the universe.
7. The otherworldly looking crater in Siberia
In Siberia, there’s a giant crater nicknamed “Patom”. Residents also call it the “Fire Eagle’s Nest” since animals are known to stay away from the crater for some unknown reason. The crater was first officially reported by the Russian geologist Vadim Kolpakov in 1949, but it is estimated that the crater is at least 500 years old. Several theories exist as to how the crater was formed including space ships but Russia Beyond said the most likely theory is a “steam explosion that happened either during magma emplacement into hydrous rocks or due to the faulting and decompression of heated hydrous rocks.”
8. Comet West
During the 1970’s, the sky was lit by an impressive comet that left a bright trail. In the early morning of March 1976, people in the Northern Hemisphere observed Comet West passing right above them. The comet was discovered on November 1975 by Danish astronomer Richard West in photographs taken at the European Southern Observatory in Chile.
9. Filming a giant squid in US waters
It might be surprising to hear that giant squids are mostly found in Japanese waters. In 2019 however, things changed when American scientists funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Office of Ocean Exploration and Research dove their cameras into the depths of the ocean. At just over 100 miles from Louisiana and Alabama, scientists discovered a giant squid with the help of Medusa camera fit with a special lure. The camera’s five deployments each took 24 hours to complete, which means that the scientists had to comb through 120 hours of footage to make the remarkable discovery.
10. Humpback whales have gone from being solitary creatures to living in “super-groups”
For long, humpback whales have been living a solitary lives. For some unknown reason, they have changed their habitat where they live and travel in packs. Scientists have observed 20 to 200 off the coast of South Africa over the past several years, according to a 2017 study from the University of Pretoria, but they aren’t sure why the nature of this ancient creature has changed.
“It’s quite unusual to see them in such large groups,” Gisli Vikingsson, head of whale research at the Marine and Freshwater Research Institute in Iceland, told New Scientist.