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Posted: June 20, 2013 7:35 p.m.

We can't leave mysteries alone

"Nature abhors a vacuum," said the Greek philosopher Aristotle, who lived from 384-322 B.C. Nature, he posited, insists that every space be filled, even just with air.

I prove the truth of his belief every day. When I give "nature" a bit of empty time or unused space on the agenda, something inevitably pops up to fill it. Downtime seems always just out of my reach.

It’s always a case of "work expands to fill the time allotted." There’s a maddening incongruity between what I say I want — down time — and what I allow to happen.

In a similar vein, we human beings seem unable to tolerate anything posing as a mystery. For example, there we were again Tuesday, digging up some overgrown farmland near Detroit looking for the remains of Teamsters Union president Jimmy Hoffa, last seen in 1975.

Pretty good speculation suggests the mob grabbed him and disposed of him to keep him from retaking the union presidency after he served time for fraud and jury tampering. Hoffa had run the union from 1957-1971 and was released when then-President Richard Nixon commuted his sentence.

Hoffa’s son Jimmy is the current Teamsters president. His dad was declared dead in 1982.

The tip that set off this search came from the son of a reputed mobster. For the past 38 years, law enforcement has traced one tip after another, from the end zone of Giants Stadium to GM’s downtown Detroit headquarters.

No one can reliably tally the money and man-hours spent trying to find Jimmy Hoffa.

In 2006, according to a National Journal blog, the FBI paid some $165,000 to landowners and $65,000 to contractors conducting yet another dig, not including the agents’ man-hours.

And, said blogger Matt Berman, "Maybe today we’ll find Jimmy Hoffa’s body. Who knows what we we’ll do with it."

The mystery of the disappearance of aviatrix Amelia Earhart has been a consuming passion ever since she and navigator Fred Noonan disappeared on what was to be a record-setting flight around the equator in 1937.

She was a headline-grabbing, elegant, freckle-faced tomboy before falling off the face of the earth, so to speak, over the wide-open spaces of the Pacific Ocean. Hopes of recovering her and Noonan’s remains along with her aircraft have inspired legions of searchers and researchers who can’t bear not knowing the end of the story.

Recently, as reported on June 15, new sonar technology has given credibility to photos taken a couple of years ago that seem to present the unmistakable outline of her Lockheed Electra, some 350 miles from her target on Howland Island.

It is now believed that she and Noonan landed on the beach, but their plane was swept over a continental cliff by the action of the tides. She and Noonan died as castaways, it is thought.

This mystery may have reached its end. My parents gave me Amelia Earhart luggage when I graduated high school, and I imagined myself hurtling around the globe in her wake, long gone though she was.

The missing city of Atlantis has been the stuff of legend for at least 2,400 years since the Greek philosopher Aristotle wrote circa 360 B.C. about an island that once lay in the vicinity of the Straits of Gibraltar.

Debate has never definitively clarified its existence, but searches have centered in the Atlantic and Mediterranean. About two years ago, scientists found striking evidence of what may be the civilization of Atlantis in mud flats near Cadiz in southern Spain, some 60 miles inland, suggesting its destruction by a tsunami.

This year, Brazilian and Japanese scientists claimed to find a new version of the famed Atlantis — a "Brazilian Atlantis" — based on the discovery of a granite rock on the seabed floor. Analysis so far suggests the rock could have been part of the subcontinent called Pangaea, formed 300 million years ago, that existed for 100 million years until the continents began to break apart and form the world, as we know it.

As has been noted in other reports, the lost city of Atlantis has been "found" over and over again throughout history, and until it can be known for sure, you can bet we’ll keep looking.

The mysteries of life in and of this world give rise to legends, lore, tales, stories, fiction and nonfiction, art, music, poems, films and documentaries. They inspire, challenge, demand, create careers or even just tickle our fancies.

As for me, I love the unknowable and that which can only be imagined. I believe there is as much room for mystery and secrets as there is for facts and science. I also know that for every mystery "science" answers, we’ll find another question to pursue.

 

 

Barbara Morgan is a Covington resident with a background in newspaper journalism, state government and politics. She can be reached at barbm2158@gmail.com.

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