Tech

Max Headroom And 6 Unexplained Tech Mysteries To Keep You Up At Night

Published On 07/10/2015 Published On 07/10/2015

You can blame that infamous TV scene from Poltergeist for my predisposition towards technology. While I doubt many people have experienced a phenomenon as horrifying as a ghost hand coming out of the television set, there are plenty of unexplainable occurrences that just cannot be rationalized.

Because sleeping is totally underrated, we’ve compiled some of the freakiest technological mysteries of the past century to ensure you’ll never shut an eye at night again. Enjoy!

NYU

1. The Antikythera Mechanism, 205 BCE

The Antikythera Mechanism is an ancient analog computer, found at the bottom of the sea, that was supposedly designed to predict astronomical positions and eclipses. The mechanism dates back to 205 BCE (predating Apple by about 2,181 years) and is thought to be the most sophisticated mechanism from the ancient world.

The craftsmanship and complexity behind the mechanism is the most fascinating aspect of the discovery, as it would be another 1,700 years before a similar mechanism would be invented—that being the mechanical astronomical clock.  

NPR

2. Cicada 3301, 2012

A series of highly-complex online puzzles set up by a mysterious company in hopes of recruiting "highly intelligent individuals" from the public. Some speculate it’s the work of the NSA, MI6, or CIA, and only a few people have gotten far in the process of solving it. Originally found at ground zero for Internet folklore, 4Chan, Cicada 3301 has been called “the most elaborate and mysterious puzzle of the Internet age.”

Only a few people have solved it, notably a 34-year-old cryptosecurity researcher and developer from Sweden named Joel Eriksson, who believes a private organization of hackers is behind the series of puzzles.

Youtube/andrew8675309

3. The Max Headroom Incident, 1987

For those younglings who weren’t around in the early '80s—myself included—Max Headroom was a fictional “A.I.” character and spokesman for New Coke ("Ca-ca-ca-ca-ca-catch the wave!") who was jolted into the public eye when a mysterious hacker dressed as him and hijacked a public broadcast signal in Chicago. The hacker, whose identity is still unknown, left a really creepy video message on live TV and freaked out an entire city. Aside from the few stray articles and this Reddit thread investigating the incident, the true identity of the hacker has never been found. 

Strangedimensions

4. John Titor, 2000

The subject of time travel has been widely covered in film and TV—most notably with the incredible Back to the Future trilogy. But the notion that someone can travel through time, especially with a DeLorean, is nothing more than a far-off dream. John Titor was the alias for a person who posted on bulletin boards during 2000 and 2001 claiming to be a time traveller from the future sent back in time to grab an IBM 5100 computer system from the year 1975.

Titor made several predictions about the future, shared several photographs scans of his "C204 Time Displacement Unit” time machine (pictured above), and claimed Omaha, Nebraska would be America’s capital after a second Civil War. Obviously, Titor’s predictions never came to fruition and his identity is still completely unknown.

Wikimedia

5. The "Wow!" Signal, 1977

A volunteer at SETI, or the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, uncovered a mysterious signal with their radio telescope from deep space that lasted 72 seconds, prompting the volunteer to write “Wow!” over the computer printout of the signal. While many speculate the signal came from extraterrestrials, the man who found it, Jerry Ehman, suggests it very well could have been an Earth-bound signal that reflected off a piece of space debris.

Ehman goes on to say, in a 1994 interview, "If it were intelligent beings sending a signal, they'd do it far more than once.”

Deviantart

6. The Buzzer, 1982

Also known as UVB-76, The Buzzer is a shortwave radio station that broadcasts a buzzing sound with a Russian woman intermittently saying the station’s call sign “58 151” and codeword “39 51 65 78” and broadcasts 24 hours a day. Reports of The Buzzer have gone as far back as 1982. Some speculate The Buzzer is a relic of the past—simply a shortwave Numbers station left over from the Cold War, but no official source has ever been confirmed.

Sony

7. The Sony Hack, 2014

Following North Korea’s distaste for a movie in which their beloved dictator is assassinated by James Franco and Seth Rogen, Sony was hacked. Then, a month later, The Interview was released. Many pointed to North Korea for the attacks, while others think it was an inside job to promote the film. "One of the biggest mistakes is that because an attack can be traced to the North Korean Internet that somehow means it's the North Korean government. That's a false assumption because the North Korean Internet is basically provided by outside companies," a cybersecurity expert told Mashable.

Antivirus “pioneer” John McAfee supports this claim: "I know who hacked Sony Pictures—and it wasn't North Korea...It has to do with a group of hackers...who hate the confinement [and] the restrictions the music industry and the movie industry has placed on art, and so they are behind it."


Jeremy Glass is a staff writer for Supercompressor and makes his own Wow! signals all the time—anyone can do it. 

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