This bizarre megalithic structure is the work of Florida man Edward Leedskalnin, who built the entire complex on his own in the 1930s. Leedskalnin claimed to have invented a “perpetual motion holder” that allowed him to move the huge stones using levitation. A few teenagers claimed to have seen him working, and said that the vast blocks of coral had bobbed around “like hydrogen balloons”. Whoa.
2. Cicada 3301
Cicada 3301 is a deeply strange and cryptic organisation that has been posting complex and eerie puzzles on the internet since 2012. It has been called “the most elaborate and mysterious puzzle of the internet age”, and quite a lot of people think it might be the work of the NSA or CIA; an attempt to recruit members of the public to work on codebreaking and hacking projects. Cool.
Many conspiracy theorists believe our solar system is hiding a 10th planet called Nibiru, that it’s about to collide with Earth and kill us all, and that NASA is covering it all up (which scientists deny). In 2012, Professor Brian Cox tweeted “if anyone else asks me about that imaginary bullshit planet I will slap them around their irrational heads with Newton’s Principia.” Bet it’s true and he’s part of the cover-up.
Utsuro-bune literally means “hollow ship” in Japanese, and describes a strange vessel made from polished brass and crystal that washed ashore in 1803 on the eastern coast of Japan. Local fishermen found an attractive, strange-looking young woman inside the ship, but she didn’t speak any language they had ever heard. Ufologists believe it to be an early close encounter with an alien species.
The creature in this photo is allegedly the “Lizard Man” of Scape Ore Swamp in South Carolina, which is said to live in the surrounding swampland and also sewers. It’s described as being around 7 feet tall, bipedal, and scaly, with three long fingers on each hand. It’s alleged to have attacked cars, leaving long gouges in the metal, and let’s be honest: It’s definitely the Demogorgon from Stranger Things.
On 22 September 1979, an orbiting American Vela satellite spotted an unidentified “double flash” of light near the remote Prince Edward Islands off the coast of Antarctica. No one knows what the light was, but double flash lights are a common characteristic of nuclear tests. But who was testing a nuclear bomb, and why? To this day, no national governments have ever owned up to it. Weird.
This grisly practice has been in use since ancient times, and involves drilling a round hole in a patient’s skull. Cave paintings from the Neolithic period show that people believed it would cure epileptic seizures, migraines, and mental disorders by letting out the “evil spirits” inside. Surprisingly, quite a few people survived the procedure and went on to live full, albeit draughty, lives with a hole in their head.
On July 9 1958, Lituya Bay in Alaska was hit by a massive earthquake, sending 30 million cubic metres of rock plunging into the sea and creating the largest tsunami in recorded history: a skyscraper of water over 30 metres high that swept across the inlet. A local couple (the Swansons) and their sailboat (the Badger) were caught up in the tsunami, managed to ride the wave, and lived to tell the tale.
This spherical core of plutonium was kept at New Mexico’s Los Alamos laboratory in 1945 and was responsible for the deaths of two scientists. The core was made up of two hemispheres that had to be kept separate, as allowing them to touch would form a critical mass. In a display of bravado, physicist Louis Slotin decided to use a thin screwdriver blade to wiggle them around. As you can imagine, it didn’t go well.
10. Toynbee tiles
These baffling, handmade tiles and plaques have been cropping up around the US and South America since the 1980s, and no one knows who is making them, or why. They’re the size of a car licence plate, and usually say something like “In movie 2001 resurrect dead on planet Jupiter”, a reference to the 1970s Stanley Kubrick/Arthur C. Clarke film, although a few feature political statements too.
The Yonaguni Monument is a series of pyramidical underwater ruins and ledges off the coast of Japan that some people believe are the remains of an ancient culture. The monument is made up of straight walls, columns, platforms, and a carving of a human-like face, but the Japanese government don’t believe that it’s some kind of Atlantis-style city probably made by aliens, and refuse to protect it.
This huge eruption in Indonesia was one of the most destructive volcanic events in history, killing 36,000 people. The volcano first erupted, then underwent a cataclysmic explosion; the noise of the explosion was so loud (180 dB) that it was heard 2,000 miles away in Perth, Australia. Afterwards, it was discovered that the entire island of Krakatoa had been almost completely obliterated.
13. The Radium Girls
In 1917, the harmful effects of radiation were still largely unknown, and radium was used as a glow-in-the-dark paint. The Radium Girls were watch-dial painters at the United States Radium factory in New Jersey. They were told that the paint was harmless, and so they would lick their paintbrushes to give them a fine point, which over time caused fatal radiation poisoning, anaemia, and horrific necrosis of the jaw.
This underground, airtight, 2,000-cubic-foot chamber was built between 1937 and 1940 at a university in Brookhaven, Georgia, and is packed with artifacts that the crypt’s creator, Thornwell Jacobs, believed to tell a “running history” of civilisation for any future inhabitants of the planet. It contains (among other things) seed samples, a toaster, Budweiser beer, and a cash register. Um, OK.
These cryptic papers date back to 1885 and are written in a complex numerical cipher. They’re said to contain the whereabouts of three tons of buried gold and silver treasure, originally hidden by a man named Thomas J Beale in a secret location in Virginia in the US. Only one text has been deciphered so far, but it only gave details of what was buried and its general location (Bedford County). Weird.
Harry Grindell Matthews was an English inventor who, in the 1920s, repeatedly insisted that he had created the world’s first electric death ray. In an early demonstration he managed to stop a motorcycle engine from a distance, switched on a light bulb, and also claimed it could shoot down planes and ignite gunpowder. Matthews claimed that he went on to sell the ray to the US military.
This tragic disaster is the largest non-nuclear explosion since records began, and is one of the deadliest industrial accidents of all time. On 16 April 1947, an arms carrier called the SS Grandcamp carrying 2,300 tons of highly volatile ammonium nitrate exploded after a fire on board. The blast leveled nearly 1,000 buildings on land, killed 531 people, and shot 6,350 tons of metal thousands of feet into the air.
18. The Bloop
The Bloop was a strange, extremely powerful low-frequency signal detected by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in 1997. The sound varied in frequency, and could have been made by a large marine animal, but no animal on Earth is large enough to have created it. The NOAA now says it was probably caused by two large icebergs, but we all know the truth. It was Godzilla.