There are thousands of books, articles, documentaries, TV shows and websites that are or have been devoted to anomalies or mysteries or the unknown. From UFOs and ancient astronauts to Bigfoot to Atlantis, to ESP to the Bermuda Triangle to religious miracles, the list is seemingly endless. Some are pretty iffy; some have a good bona-fide pedigree. No two people will come up with identical lists of what to them are their top anomalies. There’s just too many that capture the imagination of the great unwashed. Different strokes for different folks. Here’s my list – at this point in time anyway.
ACCELERATING UNIVERSE: The anomaly here is quite straightforward in that there’s considerable observational evidence that the expansion rate of the Universe is accelerating. However, logic dictates that because of the overall gravity that the Universe has, the expansion rate of the Universe should be decelerating. The ‘antigravity’ energy required to accelerate the Universe’s expansion has to come from somewhere, and in ever increasing amounts to keep on keeping on the ever increasing rate of acceleration, yet, the Universe, almost by definition, already contains all there is and ever will be. If extra ‘antigravity’ energy is being created, it’s being created out of nothing. Something from nothing is a clear violation of the basic conservation laws and principles that form the bedrock of modern science.
NEITH: Neith is, or was, the now-you-see-it-now-you-don’t. now-forever-lost satellite of our twin planet (in size if nothing else), Venus. The anomaly here is that bona-fide professional astronomers, not one but numerous celebrated astronomers, including Giovanni Cassini (1625-1712), sighted, noted and logged the existence of the damn thing and wrote up their findings in their professional journals. Okay, the time period was the mid-1600s to mid-1700s, but the professional eyeballs and the professional equipment was good enough to verify one way or the other the presence or absence of a reasonably sized natural satellite in orbit around Venus.
Of over thirty sightings of Neith, the best known and verified were in 1645, 1672, 1686, 1740, 1759, 1761 and 1764 (multiple sightings on numerous days in March). Observations over that stretch of period would seemingly rule out the ‘satellite’ being a faint star or asteroid or outer planet like Uranus or Neptune that just happened to be way beyond Venus but in the direct line of sight. Sometimes the observed phase of Neith matched the phase of Venus, which again suggests that the object was in close proximity to the planet.
Venus, inward and closer to the Sun than Earth, is a very visible and prominent celestial object when viewed from Earth, commonly called the Morning and Evening ‘Star’. We’ve all seen Venus; in fact if you know exactly where to look it can be seen in the daytime sky. Venus is far enough away from the Sun that the Sun’s glare doesn’t drown out reflected light from Venus, and presumably any objects near or in orbit around Venus. A natural satellite of Venus of any reasonable size should be readily detectable with the astronomical equipment available at the time. And so it really didn’t raise any astronomical eyebrows when Neith was in fact discovered. The anomaly here is that all and sundry were wrong. Neith doesn’t exist. Venus has no natural satellite(s). Now either all and sundry were totally incompetent and wouldn’t know one end of a telescope from the other, or else Neith really existed but somehow exited the local neighborhood. If that’s the case, then Neith wasn’t natural at all but under intelligent control, and not by any terrestrial intelligence. What Neith was, and where it disappeared to, are major anomalies.
DRAGONS: The anomaly here is that if dragons and dragon-lore was the product of just one culture at say one particular point in time, the concept could be easily dismissed. But when they appear in every culture, from ancient times even up through the 1700′s when they were still part of natural history, then one needs to pay closer attention. That’s all the more so since dragons were taken very seriously indeed. In China they were the emissaries between the gods and the emperor, and woe beholds any of lesser rank that wore a dragon image on their person. Dragons and dragon-lore form a major part of what passes for science-fantasy today. There’s probably no child over the age of five who can’t wax lyrical and tell you all about dragon-lore. The best guess scenario is that while dragons may be considered mythical today; they certainly were not, not too awfully that many generations ago. If that’s the case, if dragons were really real once upon a time, then the anomaly is – no fossils.
GHOSTS: The anomaly here is that you’ve had hundreds of thousands, probably even millions, of observations of ghosts or ghostly manifestations since recorded history started being, well, recorded. Sightings of apparitions or specters or spirits, whatever, have been made and reported from every possible type of person from every possible walk of life. They can’t all be mistaken. The fly in the ointment is that all of this is without there being the slightest shred of physical, chemical or biological theory that can back up the sightings. There is just no way a deceased body can split in two and end up being half dead (the part that’s buried or cremated) and half animated (the ghost), yet the ghost, since it is animated, it can been seen and heard and interact with the surrounding environment after all, must be composed of matter and energy which presumable had to have been part and parcel of the original body to start with. As such the ghost needs to feed to replenish that matter and expended energy and no doubt perform related bodily functions. No physics or chemistry or biology known to mankind can manipulate a deceased body’s matter and energy in such a way as to account for that body’s ghost.
So ghosts are all observation with no adequate theory to support them (unlike say the UFO extraterrestrial hypothesis which has solid theory to back up the possibility). There is no viable way of splitting a body up into two whole (matter and energy) parts at least one of which is viable (alive) and that applies equally to out-of-the-body experiences and near-death experiences. Another question: If that were possible, why stop at two (the ghost and the dead body; the out-of-the-body body and the body it came from; the near-death body and its animated counterpart) – why not a trio or thirty or three hundred ‘clones’?
OLMEC STONE HEADS: Associated with the long since defunct cultures of the Olmecs, the first major civilization of the Americas, were multi-ton solid stone heads – just the heads; in the round. Anomaly one – nobody has any real clue why the Olmecs carved out these stone heads which would have taken quite some considerable effort. Anomaly two – the parent stones, weighing many, many tons, had to be transported from mountain quarries multi-dozens of miles away without benefit of the wheel or beasts of burden, through swampy jungle terrain; how was this done? Anomaly three – though the Olmecs were natives of Mexico, the stone heads look absolutely African, and there was no apparent cultural contact between Africa and Central America BCE.
SHAVED NAZCA RIDGE: On the dissected Plain of Nazca (or Nazca desert or plateau) in Peru, there is a famous landmark, or marks – the ‘carvings’ or etchings of dozens of images on the Plain than can only be appreciated or even recognized for what they are from the air, which is how they were discovered in the 20th Century. The ground images aren’t the anomaly since it’s not difficult to construct them and their purpose was probably meant as a message or homage to the gods up in the Nazca version of heaven.
The minor anomaly is that in addition to the etched pictogram images there are many lines, even parallel lines, etched in the pebbly desert that run straight as arrows for long distances, purpose unknown, though some sort of obscure astronomical alignment might be their purpose. That’s still a theoretical option though obvious astronomical alignments have not passed muster.
The real anomaly here is that one of the ridges in the local area has had it’s top lopped off, resulting now in a flat surfaced ‘ridge’, a surface as smooth as a baby’s bottom as if a hot knife sliced through soft butter. All other ridges in the area look like well natural ridges. Now the first bit is how. This flattened ridge is not a natural formation so presumably humans flattened it. The second bit is why. It must have been a massive undertaking removing not dirt or soil or sand but solid rock for reason(s) unknown to us. The third bit is that there is no debris field or piles of rubble left over from the leveling. The rock must have been carted away, expending yet more time, effort and energy. Something is screwy somewhere. Erich von Daniken, of ancient astronaut fame, thought the flattened surface of the now ridge-less ridge could’ve served as a ‘runway’ for flying saucers, but that seems equally screwy. As I say, this is anomalous, full stop.
CROP CIRCLES: There’s no disputing, no matter how much the pseudoscience skeptic you are, that crop circles do exist. There are numerous pissed-off farmers whose fields have been vandalized; multi-thousands of after-the-fact eyewitness accounts and an equal number of films and photographs, as well as on-site and laboratory analysis of the phenomena. Observation here is at the 100% certainty level. Finding logical and rational theoretical explanations are however way more challenging than a ‘take two aspirin and call me in the morning’ type of remedy or diagnosis. In fact, no matter what theory is advanced, natural, human or alien, there are massive flaws to be had with each.
No natural phenomena can create a myriad of massive geometrically complex perfect constructions using agricultural crops as the medium. The challenge for a human, or even a team of humans, to create the same in total darkness in just a few hours (this is a summertime event – long days; short nights), without mistakes, without leaving their traces (footprints, tire tracks, litter, etc) without ever getting caught, tried and convicted for trespass and vandalism, is beyond the theoretical pale for even the most ardent of skeptics and skeptical explanations, though human hoaxes are the fallback position, albeit without real evidence. As for ET, why they would travel vast distances to, at least in part, dabble in agricultural graffiti, defies our understanding. If crop circles are an attempt by aliens to communicate with humans, well, there’s been a failure to communicate. Theory here is at the near 100% uncertainty level. There’s a long road to hoe yet to reconcile observation and theory.
ALIEN ABDUCTIONS: The anomaly here is that you have hundreds, if not thousands of case histories by individuals whose testimony you wouldn’t think twice about questioning in just about any other context, yet 1) the scenario seems rather absurd at face value, and 2) why are there so few and far between independent witnesses for what should be at face value be a scenario that’s impossible to conceal from the rest of the outside world. But, I’m not in any position to call these abductees either liars or delusional or mentally ill. In fact I’m sure they are not because who in their right mind would invent such a horrifying scenario, one perpetrated upon themselves.
HUMAN UNIQUENESS: The anomaly here is that we humans are not just a different species to all others past and present, but vastly, vastly different. Four vastly different differences in particular strike me as odd.
We alone of all the mammals are bipedal. We alone of all the primates are ‘furless’ – the “Naked Ape” as Desmond Morris described us. We alone of all species that are and have ever been, are top of the pops in IQ; king of the hill by an extraordinary wide margin in intelligence or the ability to figure things out, call it what you will, plus the use of tools and technology way above that of any other species. Lastly, humans have very distinct facial features – it’s usually how we recognize the identity of another human we’ve seen before. With all other animal species, you’re hard pressed to tell one individual from another based on facial features. You see one sheep’s face, you’ve seen them all. You tend to recognize individuals of other species by size, color and colored patterns, some sort of deformity or abnormality, not by their distinctive facial features which don’t really exist.
If it suits all the other mammals to adopt a four-legged gait and be quadrupeds; if it suited our nearly 200 other primate cousins to retain their fur; if all other species can exist, survive, even thrive without screwdrivers, the automobile, plastics, central heating, the dishwasher, the Internet and the atomic bomb then we have an anomaly here. Every animal species is different from every other animal species, obviously, but there are differences and then there are DIFFERENCES! The human species is so far out in left field as to be nearly out of the biodiversity ballpark.
SPONTANEOUS HUMAN COMBUSTION: The anomaly here is that, albeit very rare, the human body can spontaneously burst into flame, killing the victim and turning the body into ash. It’s anomalous in that 1) the human body is composed mainly of water which you don’t tend to associate with fire or spontaneous combustion; 2) the body’s temperature of 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit is hardly scorching heat; 3) this anomaly isn’t noticed in animals; 4) the fire is localized to just the body and immediate surroundings despite the intense heat needed to consume a human body, and obvious sources of external fire, say a burning candle, are usually lacking. The closest theory is that perhaps the victim’s body was saturated with alcohol from excessive drinking, and alcohol of course can burn, but that rarely fitted the lifestyle of the victim and it would take one hell of a drinking binge to saturate bodily tissues with alcohol in high enough concentrations to cause the body to combust. Since animals don’t spontaneously combust, that tends to rule out body fat as a fuel source.
RADIOACTIVITY: The anomaly here is that radioactivity, the decay of unstable atomic nuclei into more stable configurations happens in a precise mathematical way, called the half-life of the unstable nuclei. This is a verified measurement and bona-fide observation. If you start with say 1000 unstable nuclei of substance X, time how long it takes for the first 500 to decay to a stable state. Once you have that, then you know another 250 unstable nuclei will decay in the exact same amount of time, and another 125 ditto, and so on down the line. But theoretically, how do these unintelligent, inanimate nuclei ‘know’ when it’s their turn to decay to uphold this half-life relationship when there are all kinds of alternatives? You can imagine that the decay process could be, should be, random and haphazard, or follow a bell-shaped distribution curb, like say autumn leaves falling off a tree – a few at first, then a lot, then many, then a lot of what’s left, then the rest of the few left. Or, it would be logical to think that if 500 out of 1000 nuclei decay in say one hour, that all (the remaining 500) will go poof in two hours – a linear relationship. Anyway, observation shows it’s the half-life relationship that Mother Nature decided upon, but there’s no theory to back up that relationship vis-à-vis any other IMHO.
The other and probably more serious anomaly is that there is no accepted trigger mechanism. An unstable nucleus just goes poof for no apparent reason. There is no cause to this effect. You cannot trigger unstable nuclei into going poof by hammering on it, subjecting it to extreme heat or cold, pouring acid on it or by any other physical and/or chemical means as your disposal. Take two identical unstable nuclei, side by side. One goes poof and the other doesn’t. Why? Lack of causality is an anomaly in itself and deeply disturbing. Things happen for a reason. Cause and effect should go back in an unbroken chain right back to the Big Bang (something else which apparently happened for no discernible reason at all).
WAVE-PARTICLE DUALITY: Of all things anomalous, quantum physics has to be right up there in the running for the gold medal. On the one hand, it has been verified to incredible levels of precision and when applied in technologies in our modern world, forms the basis for a goodly percentage of the global economy. On the other hand, it makes absolutely no sense, common or otherwise, at all. That’s why the mantra of those employed in applying and dealing with quantum physics, or quantum mechanics as it is often termed, tends to be “shut up and calculate and don’t worry about what it means”.
In our everyday macro world, bullets and billiard balls behave in a predictable fashion. They are macro particles that don’t wave all over the bloody place, otherwise a soldier would never hit his target and a game of billiards would be a farce. You certainly don’t want your car waving on down the highway. But if you lived in the micro (quantum) world, that’s exactly what would happen. Take the infamous double-slit experiment.
If you shine a beam of light, which is but little bullets called photons, or fire any other elementary particle (or micro bullet) for that matter like electrons at a single open slit, the pattern you get at a target behind that slit is just a blob of bullet-like hits. Everything behaves like particles or like bullets. But if you fire those little bullets at a double slit – two slits side by side, the target behind the double slit will show not two separate blobs, but a traditional wave interference pattern spread out over a wide area of alternating high and low concentrations of where the little bullets hit, or didn’t hit. Strange doings that.
Well obviously the little bullets are somehow interfering with themselves while in flight, so the next bit is to shoot them off just one-at-a-time, so that one bullet hits the target behind the slit(s) before the next bullet is fired. That way, bullets in flight can’t get in the way of other bullets. When you do that with a single slit, you eventually get a single blob of bullet hits on the target that’s behind: so far so good. Now fire off your one-at-a-time photon or electron bullets at the double slits. You would expect two blobs, one behind each slit. That’s what you’d expect, but that’s not what you get. What you see is what you get and what you see is still that classic wave interference pattern. So your little photon or electron bullets behave both like bullets or particles, but at the same time behave like waves: wave-particle duality rules the quantum roost. Something is screwy somewhere!
GOD: This isn’t really an anomaly due to any conflict between theory and observation. There is very little of either. The anomaly here is why anyone in their right mind would believe in such a supernatural deity. The gap between observational evidence and theoretical faith is so vast that it staggers the mind – at least it boggles my mind, all the more so since the only real description of God’s bona-fides, the human penned Old Testament, exhibits Him not as a just, loving, forgivin