We like to think that we as a human race have advanced enough to have a handle on the world around us.
We believe we can explain pretty much anything around us. But every now and then, actually more often than most would care to admit, the universe throws us a curve ball.
There are many puzzling mysteries that scientists, medics and many other folks around the globe are yet to unravel. The following are just a few of recent mysteries and some that have persisted for millennia.
1. Day 200 people ‘froze’ for almost five minutes in NY
Mass hysteria refers to shared delusions that make a group of people act in a similar manner, as when whole villages exhibit symptoms of the same disease, even though none of the villagers are actually sick.
There are plenty of historical instances of such collective hysteria. Thanks to YouTube, contemporary cases of mass hysteria can be captured and analysed like never before. Yet, to this day, researchers haven’t offered a better explanation as to why they happen beyond an exasperated shrug.
The most famous episode of mass hysteria in recent memory happened at the Grand Central Terminal in New York on February 24, 2007. At exactly 2.30 PM, no fewer than 200 people found themselves frozen in place.
They quite literally ceased all movement, maintaining the same position while the world around them carried on. The ‘mass freeze’ lasted about five minutes, after which the affected people went on with their lives without any apparent side effects.
Experts haven’t been able to identify what triggered the incident or why only certain visitors were affected. Grand Central Terminal is not the only recent example of mass hysteria.
From a spontaneous song-and-dance routine at the Antwerp Central Station, Belgium, to a sudden light saber brawl in Bristol, England, group hysteria continues to baffle researchers and doctors alike.
2. Yemeni Girl who cries stones instead of tears
A 12-year-old girl from Yemen baffled doctors in 2014 as her eyes oozed out stones instead of tears, triggering panic in her rural area that it could be either magic or epidemic.
Doctors said they still could not explain such a phenomenon since the girl, Saadiya Saleh, is not suffering from any known disease.
A YouTube film aired by Yemen’s Azal satellite TV channel and still online shows doctors gathered a small box full of stones that dropped out of the girl’s eyes in just a few hours.
“This case in the second strange phenomenon in the region,” Azal’s presenter said in a report from the western Yemeni province of Hudaidah.
“The case has triggered panic in the area where this girl lives…some say the girl could be gripped by a magic spell while others say it might be the devil…. others fear it could be the start of a dangerous epidemic.”
3. The Indian village where most sire twins
A village named Kodinhi in India, has a bizarre phenomenon that has puzzled folks for years. The village’s claim to fame is the abnormal number of twins born there.
Kodinhi only has around 2,000 families, yet there are over 350 sets of twins in the area. It gets stranger. It is estimated that the number of twins born in the village is increasing every year, and no one really knows why.
This is even more remarkable because twins are especially rare in India
— on average, four out of every 1,000 Indian births are twins. In Kodinhi, the number is 45 per 1,000 births.
Doctors have absolutely no idea what is causing this strange phenomenon and until they find out, the Village of Twins remains one of the strangest curiosities of India.
4. Tale of incredible Boiling River of Peru
In a rain forest in the heart of Amazonian Peru, scientists believe they have discovered the world’s largest thermal river, running hot for nearly four miles and reaching up to 80 feet at its widest point and 16 feet at its deepest.
While the river’s extreme temperatures are not unusual for a geothermal surface, it is deemed remarkable in that it is non-volcanic. The nearest active volcanic area is more than 430 miles (700km) away.
The so-called ‘Boiling River’ is said to be the crown jewel of an unusual collection of three non-volcanic rivers in the area, which also include the Salt River (a salty thermal stream) and the Hot River (a thermal freshwater stream) – both much smaller in comparison to the Boiling River.
Fed by both boiling and near-boiling hot springs, the river also feeds several thermal waterfalls along its length, the most impressive of which has a 20ft-drop into a large thermal pool, the Boiling River Project, which is investigating the phenomenon, reports.
Some parts of the river are said to be so hot that various animals that have fallen into it have boiled instantly, according to geoscientist Andrés Ruzo who discovered the river and leads the project.
“The first thing to go are the eyes. Eyes, apparently, cook very quickly. They turn this milky-white colour. The stream is carrying them,” he said.
Since his discovery, Mr Ruzo launched the Boiling River Project for the research and protection of the river and its surrounding area, including its rich and diverse plant and wildlife, which preliminary studies have indicated are found in the jungles along the river.
Tourists wishing to visit the river are recommended to liaise directly with either Mayantuyacu or Santuario Huistín centres, both of which have a long history of receiving tourists and providing visitors with detailed travel tips, safety advice and warnings about the inherent potential dangers of visiting the river.