Why do people always try to solve mysteries?

swimmerguy's picture

So, I just got done re-reading probably my 3rd favorite book ever, Sphere, by Michael Chrichton.

Basically, it's about this psychologist, Norman, who's 53. He get's flown in to this random place in the Pacific Ocean, North of Australia, and finds out that he's about to be put on a mission. To find aliens.
This is based on a paper that the government had commisioned him to write 6 years earlier, on what to do if we ever contacted aliens. He thought it was a joke.
But, he finds out that beneath the ship they've flown him to, 1000 feet down, there is a gigantic spaceship, 1/2 a mile long, many feet wide, in a cylinder shape. They think aliens are there.
So, Norman, along with a team he had proposed in his alien paper, descend down, to an underwater habitat, 33 atmospheres of pressure.
They live there for a few days, looking at the spacecraft, and they go in.

They find out it's American, from 2048, and had time traveled backwards.
Weird. They're discovering a ship that won't be built for 50 years (when the book was written).
Anyway, they find out that the ship's mission was to travel through space and time, and find aliens.
The crew of the ship is long dead, but, they find out that either before or after they died, they ship picked up something.
A gigantic sphere.
10 yards diameter.
Perfect, flawless, polished, pristine in every way.
Except for some weird markings on one side.
A quote: "On the far side, they discovered a series of deep, convoluted grooves, cut in an intricate pattern into the surface of the sphere. The pattern was arresting, though Norman could not immediately say why. The pattern wasn't geometric. And it wasn't amorphous or organic, either. It was hard to say what it was. Norman had never seen anything like it, and as he continued to look at it he felt increasingly certain this was a pattern never found on Earth. Never created by any man. Never conceived by a human imagination.
He felt sure of it.
This sphere was something alien."

The find that the pattern is a door, of some sort. The sphere is hollow.
They spend like the rest of the book trying to figure out how to open it, and when they do, it nearly kills all of them.

But, I almost would have preferred it stay closed. A perfect mystery. A giant, perfect sphere. Alien, possibly floating in space for thousands of years. Made of unknown, indestructible material. And there is something inside. It's a GREAT mystery, one that I just LOVE to ponder...
That one seems better unsolved, because once you figure out how it got to be in space, how old it is, who or what it was made by, what's inside, and everything else, then it's boring.
It's just another part of life.
I like to savor the mystery.


hellonwheels's picture

sounds like an interesting book.

and i think we do because on some level, the unsolved/ unknown intrigues us.


Mental wounds not healing, driving me insane, i'm goin' off the rails on a crazy train- the ozzman

swimmerguy's picture

Yes, it does

And, at first glance, I'd like nothing more than to find out everything about that sphere.
But, that would take away all the mystery.
That's one that I think should never be solved.
Maybe a real life example is better, such as the Mad Trapper of Rat River:

Way way up in Northern Canada, this guy in some town had his bear traps being set off by someone. He calls the mounties, and he says it might be this guy, he lives over here.
The mounty goes over, and tries to talk to the man at his house, but the man just sits there, and doesn't acknowledge him.
He comes back with a buddy, and then the man starts shooting at them, with still, no words.
They come back with more and more mounties, until they have 14. They still can't kill the guy. So they use dynamite, and blow up his cabin.
Later, when going through the rubble, they find that he'd actually dug a bomb shelter, and escaped.

Thus starts one of the largest manhunts in Canada's history. The Mad Trapper heads West, towards Alaska. No matter how many mounties they send out, they can't find him.
In the middle of winter, he reaches the Richardson mountains. They figure he can't possibly make it over, so they block the passes, and figure that he has to have died in the mountains when they can't find him.
He reappears on the other side of the mountains. Somehow, he'd done what no one else ever did, crossed the mountains in the middle of winter, and didn't even use a pass. He had to have like climbed over a mountain. Imagine.
They employ a plane, big money in those days. (1920's)
They find his campsites, and follow his trail. They find him with the plane, and start shooting. They shoot him 9 times, before he finally falls down dead.
He was found with thousands of dollars in cash, and not much else. No one knows who he was, how he got where he was, how he got that money, or anything about him.
During the whole manhunt, no one ever heard the Mad Trapper say one word, or any verbalizations.

I think that that is a MUCH better story, if we didn't know "oh well, his real name is Joe Bob, and he comes from a middle class family in Nebraska."
I think it's way better to imagine.

Hai-kus are ea-sy
But some-times they don't make sense

hellonwheels's picture


that was actually a true story though...there is a charles bronson movie based on it. can't remember the name, but yeah. lol.

it is much better than knowing for sure.

Mental wounds not healing, driving me insane, i'm goin' off the rails on a crazy train- the ozzman

elph's picture

Man Advanced...

...by following an innate drive to solve mysteries; their very survival required this talent.

btw... I'm currently working on your new avatar/icon. But, don't worry... my survival is not dependent upon its solution :)