World's greatest unsolved mysteries

By Curtis Cartier of MSN News | Corbis: © Bettmann
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And the mystery lives on

FBI agents dug up a field near Detroit looking for the remains of former union boss Jimmy Hoffa, prompting a look at some of the world's greatest unsolved mysteries. See gallery

 

Where are Jimmy Hoffa's remains?

After a life that included securing the first national agreement for International Brotherhood of Teamsters rates, becoming close friends with mafia bosses and going to prison for jury tampering, attempted bribery and fraud, James Riddle "Jimmy" Hoffa was last seen on July 1975, outside the Machus Red Fox restaurant in suburban Detroit. His body has never been found, and theories of its location have included the ground beneath Giants Stadium, the foundation of Detroit's Renaissance Center and several rural back yards. Aging gangster Tony Zerilli claimed Hoffa may have been buried in a suburban Detroit field, prompting a mass search by the FBI, but the hunt ended Wednesday.

 

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Corbis: © Bettmann
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What happened to Amelia Earhart?

On July 2, 1937, a radio operator aboard the USCGC Itasca stationed at Howland Island in the central Pacific Ocean heard what was the last trace of famed pilot Amelia Earhart. She was lost and running low on fuel. Earhart, lost and running low on fuel, was in the final leg of an attempted flight around the world. She had been aiming for Howland Island but never got there. What became of her has been the subject of enormous speculation since. Most recently, a group dedicated to searching for Earhart's remains claimed to have found new evidence of her plane, though the same group has since been sued for allegedly withholding a previous discovery from donors.
 

Read the latest on the search for Earhart

 

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What landed in Roswell, N.M.?

The name Roswell has become synonymous with UFOs and extraterrestrials thanks to decades of conspiracy theories centered on what may or may not have been found by the U.S. Army near Roswell, N.M., on July 7, 1947. The government says it found remnants of a top-secret weather balloon. Many others, however, including some who worked on site where the craft was found, say it was an alien spacecraft. What followed was a cover-up that reached the highest levels of the military. 
 

Video: Documentary on Roswell Incident

 

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What causes 'The Hum'?

What's known as The Hum is an auditory phenomenon that has been recorded in several places around the world, including Taos, N.M., Bristol, U.K., Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, and Seattle. The sound of The Hum is most commonly described as an extremely low-key, bass-heavy noise that builds up and dies down from time to time. Only between 2 and 12 percent of people can hear the noise, according to studies, but those who can hear it have been driven to the breaking point, and three suicides have reportedly been blamed on the noise. Despite several studies, the cause of The Hum remains a mystery.
 

Video: Listen to The Hum

 

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Did three prisoners survive an escape from Alcatraz?

On the morning of June 12, 1963, guards at Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary off San Francisco peered into the cells of Clarence Anglin, John Anglin and Frank Morris and saw what they thought were the inmates sleeping in their cots. The guards soon realized, however, that the men in the beds were dummies constructed out of soap and toilet paper and the real prisoners were long gone. Whether the trio made it to mainland San Francisco and to freedom isn't known, but no bodies were found and the men were never seen again.
 

Video: "Escape From Alcatraz" on History Channel

 

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What happened to D.B. Cooper?

A tall, smartly dressed man with a briefcase boarded Northwest Orient Airlines flight 305 from Portland, Ore., to Seattle on Nov. 24, 1971. Soon after the plane took off, the man gave a note to a stewardess informing her that he had a bomb and that he wanted $200,000 in unmarked bills and four parachutes. After touching down in Seattle, the pilot took off again and flew, as instructed, low and slow over a heavily forested area between Portland and Seattle. That's when the man — later identified in press reports as "D.B. Cooper" — leaped out of the plane with the cash and parachutes and was never seen again.
 

Video: The search for D.B. Cooper

 

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Who was Jack the Ripper?

There's no question that a series of brutal murders happened in the Whitechapel district of London in the fall of 1888. Whether the homicides were the work of a single serial killer or multiple people is a matter of contention, as is nearly every facet of the persona known most famously as Jack the Ripper. Jack the Ripper's five known victims were impoverished prostitutes, and the nickname came about because of the killer's removal of several of the victims' internal organs. The murders were marked not only by their brutality but by the media hype that surrounded them. Today, there are more questions than answers about the killer's identity, and the Jack the Ripper crime spree has become the subject of books, films and songs.
 

Video: Jack the Ripper on "Biography"

 

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What happened to Frederick Valentich?

Frederick Valentich took off in a Cessna 182L airplane on Oct. 21, 1978, for what was supposed to be a quick 127-mile trip from Melbourne, Australia, to King Island, off the southeast coast of the country. But in the middle of the flight, Valentich contacted air-traffic control to inform them of a bizarre craft that was flying above him. Some of Valentich's last words were: "that strange aircraft is hovering on top of me again. It is hovering and it's not an aircraft." The pilot and his plane were never seen again, and no official explanation for his disappearance was ever given. Theories for Valentich's disappearance include that he was captured by the UFO he reported, that he staged his own death and that he simply became disoriented and flew into the sea.
 

Video: Documentary on the Valentich disappearance

 

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Who built Stonehenge and why?

How a group of primitive people with no modern tools and no written history managed to erect a huge ring of massive stones in what is now Wiltshire, England, remains one of the world's great mysteries. Stonehenge was built between 3000 B.C. and 2000 B.C., most researchers agree, and the site includes the stone ring and a massive burial ground beneath. Early inhabitants of England credited magical giants, huge birds and even the devil himself as Stonehenge's builder. Later, scientific theories largely focused on the druids as architects of the monument, though its intended purpose, as perhaps a calendar, a center of pilgrimage or a place for religious ceremonies, continues to be debated.
 

Video: The "Secrets of Stonehenge"

 

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Why did the Mayan civilization collapse?

For approximately 1,500 years the Mayan empire reigned supreme in what is now southern Mexico and northern Central America. But in the 8th and 9th centuries A.D., the Mayan architects stopped building, its scribes stopped recording history, and the civilization seemed to almost completely disappear. Numerous reasons for the Mayans' demise have been posited by scientists, including that they were wiped out by disease, civil war, invading forces or ecological calamity. Most recently, in 2012, a study out of Yucatan Center for Scientific Research in Mexico concluded that rainfall reductions drove the Mayans to oblivion, though many remain skeptical of the conclusion.
 

Video: PBS special on the rise and fall of the Mayans

 

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Who built the Great Sphinx of Giza?

Egypt's Great Sphinx of Giza is considered the world's oldest known monumental sculpture, and yet facts, such as when exactly it was built, why it was built and who built it, are still unknown. Figuring out answers to these questions has itself become a phenomenon, and the previously unrelated Greek fable "Riddle of the Sphinx" has also come to describe the quest to solve the mysterious origins of the massive monument. What is known is that the Sphinx is roughly 238 feet long, 66 feet high, made of limestone and likely built about 2500 B.C. Which pharaoh oversaw the construction of the monolith is a matter of fierce debate among archaeologists. 
 

Documentary: "The Mystery of the Sphinx"

 

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What does Rongorongo say?

Besides carving the large and mysterious "Moai" head sculptures found all around Easter Island in the southeastern Pacific Ocean, the ancient Rapa Nui people also left behind a set of strange glyphs known as Rongorongo. The glyphs were found etched into pieces of wood, and though they appear to be a form of writing, no one has been able to decipher what they mean. Because Easter Island is located more than 1,000 miles from the nearest inhabited piece of land, the Rapa Nui people would have developed with little to no outside influence from other cultures, meaning Rongorongo may be one of the only independently formed written languages on Earth.
 

See photos of Rongorongo tablets

 

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Did the Shroud of Turin really cover Jesus?

Few Christian artifacts have inspired controversy quite like the so-called Shroud of Turin. Said by its believers to be the linen sheet that covered Jesus after his crucifixion and subsequently bearing the marks of his resurrection, the shroud is said by others to be nothing more than an elaborate hoax. The cloth itself is housed in the royal chapel of the Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist in Turin, Italy, and it is rarely shown by the Catholic Church. In March of this year, however, Pope Francis showed the shroud on television for the first time in 40 years, saying it "speaks to our heart."
 

Video: Pope Francis shows the Shroud of Turin on television

 

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What caused the 'Wow! Signal'?

On Aug. 15, 1977, astronomer Jerry R. Ehman was listening to the Big Ear radio telescope at The Ohio State University when he detected a narrowband radio signal that bore distinct characteristics of possible alien origin. The 72-second transmission amazed Ehman, and on the margin of a computer printout he circled the signal's numeric marks and wrote "Wow!" next to it. The name Wow! Signal has stuck ever since. The signal was never detected again, and explanations for it include alien transmissions, a phenomenon known as atmospheric twinkling, and an Earth-made signal that bounced back to the planet.
 

Video: Stephen Hawking on the Wow! Signal

 

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Who is running the UVB-76 radio station?

With a shortwave radio tuned to 4625 kHz a listener can hear one of the most mysterious happenings on the air waves. A station believed to be in Russia and known as "The Buzzer," or by the call sign UVB-76, transmits a monotonous buzz sound at a rate of 25 sounds per minute, 24 hours per day, and has been doing so since at least the early 1980s. On rare occasions, the buzz sound is replaced by a Russian voice reading off numbers and names. No official purpose for the station has been given, and theories about it range from being a coded military transmission, to atmospheric conditions read by scientists, to being simply a "placeholder" channel claimed by the Russian military.
 

Audio: Listen to a rare message by the UVB-76 station

 

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