Science is getting pretty good at explaining the mysteries of the universe, but there are some things that are still outside of human comprehension. Whether they be industrial waste mutated into nefarious new forms or just Mother Nature getting a little revenge, these weird substances continue to baffle our attempts to analyze them. Put on your gloves and let’s do a little material handling, shall we?
La Mancha Negra, Venezuela
Outside of Caracas, Venezuela, there’s a highway. In general, it’s in pretty good shape. And then you see it. Over eight miles of pavement, a bizarre, black blob oozes out of the surface to cover the roadway. Locals call it la mancha negra, and it’s bad news. Thick and slimy, it’s claimed the lives of thousands of motorists. On hot days, it has the consistency of chewing gum. When it’s frosty, it gets as slippery as black ice. And nothing seems to be able to make it go away, not high-pressure hoses, crushed limestone or detergent. The Venezuelan government has spent millions trying to find out exactly what it is, but no answers are forthcoming. All they know is that it’s hell to drive on.
Orange Slime, Alaska
The oceans are the source of many mysteries. We still don’t know what goes on down there, for the most part. Every once in a while, the sea will reach out and share some weirdness with us land-dwellers. Most recently, residents of the village of Kivalina along Alaska’s coast have been baffled by a mysterious orange slime covering their beaches. Scientists were called in to examine the substance, which started to emit a noxious gas, and so far their research has determined that it’s some kind of eggs floating in a fatty lipid insulator. What kind of eggs? Nobody knows. Let’s hope they don’t hatch into something evil.
Blue Balls, United Kingdom
Storms are a common vector for unexplained substances to make their way into human contact. In January of 2012, a wild rainstorm swept the U.K., and once it was over, a man in Dorset went out to his back garden to find something truly bizarre. Steve Hornsby was greeted by about 20 translucent, blue spheres, about an inch in diameter. They were jelly-like to the touch and didn’t evaporate, so he took them to Bournemouth University to get them tested. The results seemed to indicate that they were a polymer structure called sodium polyacrylate, but nobody has any explanation as to how they got in Hornsby’s garden and nowhere else.
Angel Hair, Worldwide
Some of these phenomena are one-time matters, but others get a little more activity. Angel hair is one of the most commonly-reported unexplained substances, having been seen as far back as 1917 at the site of the Miracle of Fatima. Typically described as a gelatinous material that is collected in strands, it’s usually white or translucent in color and appears in all kinds of weather. It’s often reported in conjunction with UFO sightings, but not always. Some samples have been collected, most notably in Italy, where examinations revealed it was some kind of single-celled organism with 10 radial legs. Nobody’s really sure what it is.
Oakville Blobs, Washington
Here’s another case of a storm bringing some very bad visitors. The small town of Oakville, Wash. in Gray’s Harbor County is pretty quiet, normally, but on Aug. 7, 1994, things got very noisy. A sudden rainfall (not uncommon in this part of the country) brought with it a weird gelatinous goo. The blobs would fall five more times over the next few weeks, and people who handled it reported it feeling “like Jell-O.” Even worse, the entire town started to get sick with unexplained flu-like symptoms, vertigo, blurred vision and nausea. Several cats and dogs who contacted the blobs died mysteriously. University of Washington scientists examined some of the blobs and found they contained human white blood cells and several bacteria, but nobody has ever nailed down exactly what they were made out of.
Star Jelly, Worldwide
One of the most pernicious examples of mystery material is “star jelly,” which has been reported for hundreds of years. According to reports, it’s a greyish-white, partially translucent jelly that shows up on the ground after meteor showers but quickly evaporates as the sun rises. Scientists have collected samples but have not been able to find any trace of DNA in the material, which is perplexing on its own. The general theory is that it’s caused by normally invisible slime molds that rapidly expand by sucking up moisture, but it’s still not proven, and the world may never know.
Orange Slime, New York
Here’s an unexplained substance that almost went unnoticed if not for the effects it had on dozens of teenagers (including Thera Sanchez, 17, pictured). Students at LeRoy Central High School in upstate New York reported a strange, orange-yellow slime that oozes from the ground and gets on the shoes and clothes of students and teachers. At the same time, a mysterious Tourettes-like malady started spreading through the school, causing previously healthy kids to have uncontrollable twitches and seizures. Some are theorizing that it could be the remnants of a chemical spill in 1999, but the substance still defies scientific efforts to test it, so we may never know.
White Slime, Turkey
Living in the Dilovaci district of Turkey isn’t good for your health in general, as residents there are 30 times more likely to get cancer than the national average. Residents had another scare in 2011, as they awoke to find a huge part of the city covered by a mysterious white slime. It was first seen on tree branches and car tops and later reported on clothes, gardens and more. The substance didn’t wash off with soap and water and ruined hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of crops. Dilovasi has a number of factories that have been accused of covering up pollution, but the weird white stuff couldn’t be tracked to any of them.
Red Rain, India
This bizarre phenomenon is still the source of some academic controversy. From July 25 to Sept. 23, 2001, the Indian state of Kerala was witness to a rainfall like no other. Drops of blood-red precipitation fell from the sky on multiple occasions, staining fabrics and freaking out locals. A number of hypotheses have been floated on exactly what caused the terrifying storm, from meteorites passing through clouds, to algae somehow getting sucked up into the atmosphere and coming back down as rain. But there’s still no real consensus on exactly what caused the months of scary downpours.
Next: Epically Hilarious Internet Photos Vol. 3
Meat Shower, Kentucky
Let’s close this list with one of the grossest unexplained-substance phenomena of all time. In 1876, a plot of land near Olympia Springs, Ky. was deluged by a three-minute shower of raw meat. Because people were grosser and crazier back then, some of the men who were caught in the noxious downpour actually tasted the stuff, commenting that it reminded them of raw beef. Some claimed that it was actually vegetable matter, but the science minds of the day theorized that it was either lung tissue from horses or human infants. Why the sky rained blood and guts has still not been figured out.