The Torch

  • Athletes of the Week: TENNIS: Alaina Lewis & William Luque; WRESTLING: Leidaly Riveria; WEIGHTLIFTING: Kaivin Im

  • Students of the Month: Alexis Ford (9); Jonathan Raffa & Skylar Deutch (10); Johnathon Difusco (11); Charlotte Stewart (12)

  • Teacher of the Month: Leslie Giblin; Non-Instructional Employee of the Month: Joanne Falzone

Filed under Features, Showcase

Science Helping to Solve Centuries-Old Mysteries

Back to Article
Back to Article

Science Helping to Solve Centuries-Old Mysteries

Scientific theories are being used to debunk the mythology of some pop culture mysteries such as that of the Bermuda Triangle.

Scientific theories are being used to debunk the mythology of some pop culture mysteries such as that of the Bermuda Triangle.

Scientific theories are being used to debunk the mythology of some pop culture mysteries such as that of the Bermuda Triangle.

Scientific theories are being used to debunk the mythology of some pop culture mysteries such as that of the Bermuda Triangle.

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.

Email This Story

People want answers. Mysteries don’t have answers. In the past, these statements were held true, yet with today’s technology and scientific advancements, no mystery is safe from being solved or at least scientifically theorized.

The Bermuda Triangle
The Bermuda Triangle, or the more appropriately titled, “Devil’s Triangle” is the notorious loosely-defined region in the western part of the North Atlantic Ocean spanning between Florida, Bermuda, and Puerto Rico, where many aircraft and ships have been rumored to disappear mysteriously. One of the most famous ships to have inexplicably vanished includes the USS Cyclops which is said to have disappeared within the depths of the Bermuda Triangle in 1918 on route to Baltimore, Maryland. In fact, no wreckage from the ship was ever found and no distress signals were received. The deaths of the 306 crew and passengers of the USS Cyclops continues to be the single, largest non-combat loss of life in U.S. Naval history.

However, this mystery is believed to now be solved, at least that’s what British researchers at the University of Southampton claim. According to The Sun, 100 foot rogue waves could be the reason why so many boats have been sunk in the Bermuda Triangle. By building a model of the USS Cyclops, scientists were able to recreate the conditions of a rogue wave using an indoor simulator. Dr. Simon Boxall, one of the leading ocean scientists on the case, asserts that such a powerful surge in water could snap a boat like the Cyclops in two.

Amelia Earhart
Amelia Earhart, the famed American aviation pioneer and author, who was the first female aviator to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean in 1932, disappeared mysteriously in the Pacific Ocean in 1937. Her disappearance on board the Electra en route to the Howland Island from Papua New Guinea has divided researchers ever since as to what actually happened to her. Yet, a recent study conducted by the University of Tennessee has begun to shed light on that statement.

The new scientific study claims that human bones found in 1940 on the Pacific island of Nikumaroro belong to Earhart. This refutes the previous forensic analysis conducted in 1941 which linked the bones to a man. The bones at the time were found with what appeared to be a woman’s shoe, a box made to hold a Brandis Navy Surveying Sextant that had been manufactured around 1918, and a bottle of Benedictine, an herbal liqueur. Richard Jantz, one of the researchers on the case argues that forensic osteology “was not yet a well-developed discipline” when researchers in 1941 analyzed the bone remains and therefore the assessment taken of the person’s sex “cannot be assumed to be correct.”

By using the computer program, Fordisc, Jantz compared the lengths of the bones to Earhart’s measurements, using her height, weight, body build, limb lengths and proportions, based on photographs and information found on her pilot’s and driver’s licenses. His results found that Earhart’s bones were “more similar to the Nikumaroro bones than 99 [percent] of individuals in a large reference sample.” Thus, after years of mystery surrounding her appearance, the mystery of her disappearance might come to a close.

Anastasia and the Romanovs
In the year 1918, the Bolsheviks overthrew the last Tsar of Russia and committed one of history’s most infamous murders: the killing of the Romanov family including five children and their parents. Since that fatal day, over 200 people have claimed to descend from one or other of the Romanovs who had miraculously survived the slaughter in the basement of Ipatiev House. The most notorious of those coming forward have claimed to be the Grand Duchess Anastasia, such as Anna Anderson, who sparked great attention in the 1920s. Like the rest of the mysteries above, a new scientific study based on DNA evidence has finally provided irrefutable evidence to demonstrate that all five children had indeed been murdered with their parents at the hands of the Bolsheviks.

In a grave found near Yekaterinburg, DNA from the bone fragments of nine skeletons were linked to a family of two parents and three daughters (the Romanov parents and their three daughters) by using Prince Philip’s DNA (a DNA relative of the Romanovs). This verified that those remains were indeed the Romanovs. But this only added to speculation as there were still two of the children’s remains that had not been found. But then in 2007, amateur archaeologists found a second grave just 70 meters away, with bone fragments that someone tried to cremate. Out of those fragments, at least two individuals were present: one female and one male. Prince Philip’s DNA was used once again and verified that the grave contained one of the Romanov princesses and their one son the crown prince, Alexei. Thus, the mystery was solved.

The Great Pyramids
The Great Pyramids are one of the many ancient wonders of the world, but like many other mysteries, it recent discoveries can point it in the direction of being solved. For years, people wondered how Egyptians were able to lift such megalithic stones to build the pyramids. But now, new evidence proves that the ancient Egyptians constructed the Great Pyramid at Giza by transporting 170,000 tons of limestone in boats.

As reported by Smithsonian Magazine, the new theory stems from the recent discovery of an ancient scroll of papyrus, which describes a first-hand account of how the pyramids were made by an overseer of the pyramids. Also found along with the papyrus was a ceremonial boat and evidence of a network of waterways. All this new evidence points to the idea that thousands of laborers transported 170,000 tons of limestone along the River Nile in wooden boats built with planks and rope. The 2.5 ton blocks were transported through a specially designed system of canals before arriving at port built just yards away from the Great Pyramid. Therefore, the mystery of the Great Pyramids is close to being truly solved.

The Collapse of the Mayan Civilization
For years, people have been puzzled by the eerie and mysterious collapse of the Maya people. Questions such as how such a complex society could they just abandon dozens of cities and let them turn into ruins are some of the inquiries that have been invading historians’ minds for hundreds of years.

Some of have theorized that they could have been defeated in battle by rival groups, and even some outlandish theories point toward an invasion of UFOs as a reason for their destruction.

But a more plausible theory for the collapse of the Mayan civilization comes from a study published in 2012 by Arizona State University which found that accidental self-induced drought was the reason for the Maya collapse. The researchers say the Mayans had burned and chopped down so much vegetation from the forests around them that they had changed the land’s ability to absorb solar radiation, which resulted in less rainfall. Of course, less rainfall typically means more droughts, so there was more solar depletion and erosion which caused agriculture to fail. With less food, the people were forced to leave the lowland cities to avoid starvation, and this therefore resulted in the collapse of the Maya.

All in all, as human civilization continues to advance and we proceed closer and closer into the future, our most perplexing mysteries take another step further toward being solved. No mystery is safe from being unraveled, except perhaps what happens to that other sock in the laundry.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Leave a Comment

If you want a picture to show with your comment, go get a gravatar.


Navigate Left
Navigate Right
The award-winning student news site of Olympic Heights High School
Science Helping to Solve Centuries-Old Mysteries