6. Consciousness is one of the most mysterious aspects of human lives. Even after centuries of studies and investigations by both scientists and philosophers, it remains controversial with no definitive answer.
“Consciousness is too vague to be grasped completely by a set of constricted words. Maybe somewhere in the future, through rigorous studies and development, we would be able to understand and explain it like we explain the brain. But for now, all we can say is it is the state of being aware of one’s existence, knowing that your thoughts and feelings are your own.”
Science has made significant progress in explaining the workings of our brain and its relation to human behavior. No one, however, has yet been able to explain how and where consciousness comes into existence and fits in with our brains and lives. It is unobservable and hence difficult to study. We know of its existence only through our experiences and feelings.
Modern science has broadened the scope of consciousness from mere imagination, thought, and introspection to feelings, experiences, cognition, and self-awareness. However, many questions remain unanswered like;
- Is consciousness “the soul?”
- Do animals have consciousness?
- Are electrons “self-aware?”
- Does it exist in varying degrees in every living cell? (1, 2)
7. The Crooked Forest of Poland is a grove of 400 strangely shaped pine trees that were planted in 1930. Whether the unique J-shape of the trees is a result of human intervention or natural force is still a mystery.
A forest near the Polish town of Gryfino in West Pomerania has become a tourist attraction owing to its uniquely shaped trees. All of the 400-odd trees bend in a curve just inches above the ground, before shooting up straight towards the sky. In spite of their irregular shape at the base, they have grown tall and healthy, some up to 50 feet in height.
Some believe that the trees were bent in their infancy by humans to make them suitable for crafting furniture. Others have theorized that a unique gravitational force deformed the trees. Both of these theories lack evidence. (1, 2, 3)
8. On October 13, 1917, a large crowd of around 70,000 people gathered to witness the final appearance of Mary. On the cue of a peasant girl Lucia, the crowd gazed up at the Sun and witnessed a supernatural phenomenon – the sun appeared to be dancing around and falling to the ground.
“The Miracle of the Sun” was mass-sighted at Fatima in Portugal. Three shepherd children, Lucia, Francisco, and Janito had foretold that Mother Mary would make a final appearance at Fatima on 13 October 1917. A huge crowd had gathered on that day to witness her appearance. Mary appeared, but only to the children. The figure introduced herself as “the Lady of the Rosary ” and communicated prophecies and undisclosed visions to the children. She then proceeded to point towards the Sun.
On Lucia’s cue, the crowd gazed up at the Sun and saw a silver disc emerging from behind the clouds. For some witnesses, the Sun danced while. For others, it moved in a zig-zag motion and appeared to be crashing down on Earth. This event went down in history as the “Miracle of the Sun” or “Miracle of Fatima.”
The phenomenon has been critically analyzed by many, both sociologically and scientifically. Proposed explanations include a mild case of mass hysteria and an illusion caused due to prolonged gazing at the Sun. (1, 2)
9. In February 2016, a shrill noise rang through Forest Grove in Oregon that drove pets crazy and woke residents from their sleep. The strange sound, described as a “mechanical scream,” was heard many times throughout February. A haunted house named “Aliens in the Grove” was built based on the mysterious sound.
Residents of Forest Grove began hearing a high-pitched noise out of nowhere that lasted up to several minutes. The sound scared off many residents who believed it came from faulty gas lines. However, as the gas lines ran underground, they were ruled out as a possible source.
Audio expert Tobin Cobey who measured the noise on a sound meter described it as unusual, akin to “pressurized gas or air escaping through a fitting or valve.”
10. A strange slippery substance covered parts of a highway in Caracas, Venezuela. It became known as “La Mancha Negra” and continued to expand to stain eight miles of the road. It’s gummy texture led to many accidents and 1,800 fatalities between 1986 and 1991.
In 1986, road workers noticed a black stain covering a 50-yard stretch of the highway in Caracas. Over the years, the gummy goo spread across eight miles and allegedly caused 1,800 deaths. Though the number of fatalities seems inflated, it was still dangerous to drive across that stretch of highway, nonetheless. Though the safety problem was solved, the nature and origin of the black stain are still unclear.
A news article in the Chicago Tribune from August 1992 reports that a Venezuelan national commission was formed to study the baffling substance. Many theories tried to explain the source of La Mancha Negra. The two most promising are;
A high amount of poorly mixed asphalt was used when constructing the road. This theory is supported by the fact that the oozing goo is tar-like. Also, the problem worsens during hotter days. These things are generally observed when asphalt is not mixed the right way and in the right quantity.
The second theory is that it is natural asphalt seepage resulting from the world’s largest petroleum deposit in the neighboring Orinoco Belt.
So, if the substance was simply asphalt mixed with oil, why did the “million-dollar” research by the Venezuelan government failed to identify it? Well, the most likely answer is corruption. The money most likely went to corrupt officials rather than serious research. (1, 2)