Life is filled with seemingly inexplicable mysteries. Is there intelligent life in space? What on earth is the second season of True Detective supposed to be about? Some mysteries, however, would be beyond the capabilities of even Mulder and Scully's skills of detection.
The following article explores events that have never been satisfactorily explained, occurrences so weird that they belong in whatever real-life X-Files the governments of the world have stashed away. None of the ten entries have ever been close to being solved and are so outlandish that even the scriptwriters of the ever-popular paranormal show would dismiss them as being 'a bit far-fetched'. The difference is - many of them definitely did happen.
From a renaissance count that just couldn't die, an entire village that just couldn't wake up and a possible time-traveler popping up at the most inconvenient moment for rush-hour traffic, let us take you by the hand and wander together deep into the realms of the fantastical world of the real-life X-Files.
10 The Voynich Manuscript
The 600-year old Voynich manuscript was suspected for many years to be an elaborate hoax, such was the strange nature of the parchment. Decorated with pictures of plants and stars, the manuscript was written in a language that was utterly foreign to the most experienced of linguistic experts: it had never been seen before by human eyes. While the purpose of the manuscript is thought to be a treatise on nature, even the most skilled code-breakers of WWII have failed to decode more than a few words, such as 'Taurus'.
Professor Stephen Bax, of Bedfordshire University, has recently worked on decoding the shroud and has vouched for its authenticity, declaring it not to be a hoax. The only questions are: who wrote it, what does it mean and why is it coded? Theories have been put forward over the past six centuries claiming it to be a Da Vinci original - or the language of extraterrestrial visitors.
9 The Immortal Comte De Saint Germain
As Queen warbler Freddie Mercury once pondered, who wants to live forever? The answer would seem to be 'Count de Saint Germain', a historical figure who was born in the late 1600's and officially died in 1783 - but may well have stuck around until at least his last rumored sighting, in 1983. At every point in time that Saint Germain has been sighted, his appearance was said to resemble a well-dressed, 45-year old man.
The Count was a famous figure amongst the 18th century French aristocracy. He was an accomplished painter, violinist, spoke 12 languages and was a brilliant alchemist, accumulating great wealth by turning metal into pure gold. He also claimed to have discovered the secret to eternal life, leading to sightings of him in 1785 - he was chosen as the official representative for a freemasons conference when he was already a year 'dead'. Stranger still, he was sighted in France and Germany well into the 19th century, following the death of Marie Antoinette.
A man claiming to be the Count, Richard Chanfrey, appeared on french TV in 1970 and turned lead into gold to prove his claim. Whether or not Chanfrey was the Count, we'll never know; he committed suicide in 1983. Although there was a suicide note, no body was ever found...
8 The Taos Hum
Have you ever lain awake at night and listened to the small noises emanating from all around you? The clanking of pipes, the squeak of floorboards, even the whisper of the sea if you're lucky enough to live near the coast - all of these are common sounds that you absorb without noticing. It's fair to say that a constant hum would be a sound that would get under your skin after a while; this is exactly what a number of the population of the small New Mexico town of Taos have been living with for decades now.
Around 2% of the towns residents have reported hearing a constant, low-pitched humming noise that simply never stops. Some have likened it to a rumble, while others claim it to be a low murmur that occasionally evolves into a high-pitched squeal. While 98% of the town have never noticed the noise, it may be the case that the remaining 2% have especially keen hearing, or are attuned to the frequency. Doctors have ruled out tinnitus and mass aural hallucinations, while scientists have failed to find any seismic activity or ecological abnormality that they could attribute the hum to - it is entirely unexplained.
7 Disappearance Of Frederick Valentich
On the night of October 21, 1978, many Australians reported seeing lights in the sky and unusual activity in the skies above Tasmania and King Island. One such Aussie was the 20-year old pilot Frederick Valentich, who radioed Melbourne air traffic control to say he was being followed by "a long metallic, unidentified aircraft with four bright lights which at times moved at high speed or orbited above his plane". 37 years later, no trace of him has ever been found since that night.
In his radio transmission, Valentich said the UFO was "coming for me right now...hovering on top of me". The oceans below his last recorded position were intensively searched in the months following these last words; no traces of oil or wreckage were found. It has been hypothesised that Valentich, disorientated and panicked by star constellations above him, may have sent the plane into a Graveyard spiral into the sea, but this has never been conclusively proven. Dozens of witnesses report seeing white and green lights moving at speed in the sky that night. Will we ever find out what they were and why Valentich disappeared without trace?
6 The Aluminium Wedge Of Aiud
An excavation on the banks of the Mures river in 1974 unearthed a find that has yet to be explained 41 years later. The river is situated 2km east of Aiud, in Romania. After digging to a depth of 35 feet under the sand on the banks, archaeologists uncovered a pair of mastodon thigh bones. So far, so ordinary. However, it was what was found under the bones that proved to be remarkable.
A wedge, roughly hammerhead shaped and consisting of 12 different elements was unearthed amongst the layers of rock. The depth which the wedge was buried at would indicate that the piece was at least 11,000 years old. This should be impossible: aluminium wasn't discovered until 1808 and the technology necessary to mass produce it wasn't widely available until 1885. The wedge has been described by numerous engineers as being exactly the same shape as the foot of landing gear, such as you would find on spaceships. Is the advanced technology needed to produce the metal and the shape of the wedge proof that aliens landed 11,000 years ago?
5 The Pollock Twins
In 1957, rural Northumberland, UK was the scene of a tragic car accident that claimed the lives of 11-year old Joanna and 6-year old Jacqueline Pollock. After a period of grieving, their mother fell pregnant again. Their father, John was a strict Catholic who didn't believe in reincarnation. However, he became convinced that his wife was going to carry twins that possessed the reborn souls of the girls. Despite doctors insisting that there was only one fetus, Florence gave birth to twin girls Jennifer and Gillian one year later.
Baby Jennifer had identical birthmarks to her dead sister, Jacqueline and also had a strange white line across her forehead in exactly the same spot as her sister had a scar from a bike accident. When the twins were three months old, the family moved from Hexham to Whitley Bay, never setting foot in the place again until the twins were four-years old. When they returned, the twins excitedly pointed out places they had never been before, such as "their school" which they swore they used to attend. They were able to name every toy that the dead girls had possessed and played games where they pointed out, with eerie accuracy, where Gillian had blood coming from her eyes "because that's where the car hit me". They also developed a hysterical fear of certain types of car.
When the twins turned five, all of their 'memories' disappeared overnight. John and Florence had never spoken of their dead sisters in front of them until they were almost adults. Eminent psychologist Dr Ian Stevenson studied the case and declared the twins to be a result of reincarnation.
4 Overtoun's 'Death' Bridge
In the quiet village of Dumbarton, Scotland lies the Overtoun bridge. This seemingly inoffensive collection of brick and concrete hides a dark secret to the casual onlooker; locals have nicknamed it 'the bridge of death'. Even stranger, it isn't just humans that are affected by its deadly stonework.
Over the years and for no logical reason, upwards of 50 dogs have thrown themselves from the top of the bridge in a disturbing trend of spaniel suicide. The dogs throw themselves from the same point of the bridge, in the same weather conditions - the effected dogs are always the same, long-muzzled breeds. The tale became even more sinister in 1994, when local man Kevin Moy suddenly threw his baby from the same point of the bridge, proclaiming it to be the Anti-Christ. Moy attempted suicide straight after murdering his child but only seriously injured himself and has been confined to a mental hospital ever since. Are maligned forces compelling suicide and murder on the picturesque bridge?
3 The Abandoned Russian Cosmonauts
Yuri Gagarin was not only the subject of an excellent single by the rock band Public Service Broadcasting, he was a legend in the Soviet Union, hailed as the first man to walk in space. But was he really? The Soviets were infamously secretive about their failures during their Cold War rivalry with the US and purposely created an atmosphere of confusion regarding their space race exploits. A Czech agent claimed that the Soviets sent a manned flight into space as early as 1959. If this is true, what became of the pilots?
There could well be proof that Gagarin was only the first successful Russian attempt to orbit the Earth. Two months before he orbited the planet, Italian listening stations picked up a transmission by Russian voices stating, "everything is satisfactory, we are orbiting the Earth". A few days later, the same post picked up a garbled scream of terror followed by silence. Later recordings were made of people sobbing and asking why they had been abandoned, before saying "Why don't you answer? Conditions are growing worse...the world will never know about us". The recordings may prove that Russia doomed cosmonauts to float along in space forever to hide their failure, but such was the climate of secrecy at the time, we will never know one way or the other.
2 Who Was Rudolph Fentz?
Times Square, New York, 1950: a man dressed in Victoria-era clothes and mutton-chop sideburns suddenly appears out of nowhere, looking startled. Before anybody can speak to him, he is hit by a car and instantly killed. In his pockets, he carried mint condition currency from the 1870s, a business card for an address on Fifth Avenue, a copper beer token and a letter dated June 1876. None of the documents had aged. His name was Rudolph Fentz, but who on earth was he?
His name wasn't listed in any address books and the owners of the business at Fifth Avenue had never heard of him. His fingerprints weren't on record. Puzzled, the NYPD Missing Persons Department finally managed to trace a Rudolph Fentz Jr, who worked in a local bank. The man, who was in his 60's when he retired from the bank many years previously, had died five years since but his widow lived in Florida. The determined MPD tracked down the widow, who told them that her husband's father had left his home for an evening stroll in 1876, aged 29. He was never seen again - it was, said the widow, as if he had simply disappeared into thin air.
1 The Village That Fell Asleep
The remote village of Kalachi, Kazakhstan suffers from an unusual problem; since 2013, up to a third of the village's tiny population has suffered from extreme sleeping sickness. Residents have reportedly been carrying out their normal daily routines before suddenly falling asleep and slipping into comas that have lasted for as long as two weeks. Upon awakening, the victims have suffered elevated blood pressure, nausea, blinding headaches and memory loss. Some residents have fallen asleep in this manner on multiple occasions.
Baffled doctors and scientists have tested radiation levels, carbon monoxide readings and searched for high levels of metal salt, which can be toxic. At the time of writing, there are no obvious causes for the malaise. Many have blamed the disused Soviet uranium mine that sits, long-abandoned on the outskirts of the village but there are no historical reports off the miners suffering from similar symptoms. While the scientists are entirely perplexed by the situation, the President of Kazakhstan has vowed to look into the bizarre situation personally and rehouse the unlucky villagers if necessary.