In our modern society, not many true mysteries remain. Thanks to scientific advances we are now able to understand most of what’s going on in not only our world, but the universe beyond, as well. Even Jack the Ripper has now been identified!
This is probably why detective novels and police procedurals continue to be such popular forms of entertainment: They give us at home the chance to crack a case. However, when the last page is read or the credits roll, the mystery is usually wrapped up with no loose ends, leaving us to search out the next riddle to solve.
In spite of humankind’s vast knowledge, there are still a few questions that continue to haunt even the world’s greatest detectives. So let’s add a little mystery back into our lives by checking out five (as-yet) unsolvable enigmas.
1) The Voynich Manuscript
This handwritten, coded document dates back to the 15th or 16th century, but beyond that general timeline very little about it is known. Currently housed in Yale’s Beinecke Library, and available to view in its entirety via Wikimedia Commons, the meaning behind the puzzling script and illustrations continues to be questioned and debated today.
2) D.B. Cooper
On November 24th, 1971, a man identified as Dan Cooper boarded a Northwest Airlines flight. After takeoff, he informed a flight attendant that he had a bomb and instructed that the other passengers be let go. Once the plane landed safely and everyone except Cooper and the flight crew had disembarked, they took off again. During the course of this flight, Cooper gave each person on board $2,000 (from the $200,000 he extorted as a ransom), strapped on a parachute and jumped out the back of the plane carrying another twenty-one pounds of $20 bills. Where (and if) he landed and where the money ended up continues to haunt the FBI. Though some of the bills were found in 1980, the whereabouts of Cooper himself and the rest of the money is one of the great American mysteries.
3) The Mary Celeste
Bringing the concept of a “ghost ship” into real life, the Mary Celeste was a British merchant brigantine captained by Benjamin Briggs in 1872. With ten people on board and a cargo worth approximately $35,000, the ship set sail on November 5th from New York City. When she was discovered approximately a month later, the Mary Celeste was drifting listlessly, though still under sail and with no distress signal. It was found that although all of the people aboard were missing, there were no signs of foul play and the expensive cargo was still in place. Other than the ten missing people, in fact, the only vanished item was the captain’s logbook. What happened to the Mary Celeste remains such a haunting question that the subsequent owner deliberately wrecked the ship rather than test his fate by sailing it!
4) The Zodiac Letters
The mystery of the Zodiac killer is really a two-parter, as not only is the identification of the murderer still unsolved, but the meanings of three of his four cryptic letters are also unknown. Though no new killings have been reported since 1970, this legendary cold case continues to stymie San Francisco detectives and has even inspired by a film by David Fincher.
5) Aiud Aluminum Wedge
Aluminum is a chemical in the boron family that is almost always found in a mix of other chemicals. It was discovered in 1808 and began to be produced in mass quantities in 1885. So how, in 1974, did a group of Romanian workers unearth a pure aluminum wedge found among mastodon bones? The layer of oxides encasing the wedge shows it to be at least 300 years old, making this discovery near the Transylvanian city of Aiud one of the world’s great archaeological mysteries.