There used to be a lot of talk about the Bermuda Triangle, an area of ocean in which planes and boats vanished mysteriously without trace. It was dark and terrifying, but it was also the 80s, the era of Luftballons, Chernobyl and Trump's initial rise to fame, so living on the edge of obliteration just felt normal.
You don't hear about the Bermuda Triangle much these days; you may even now be saying to yourself, oh that's right, that was a thing. It turns out that the Bermuda Triangle wasn't especially mysterious; planes and boats vanish there at about the same rate they do everywhere and the sea is just a horrifying maelstrom of death. So that's all right. But we tend to assume that the era of mystery has passed; that modern technology and whatever satellites do has shone enough light into the world's murky corners that we no longer need to fear the dark. We are, of course, wrong.
There are many unsolved mysteries: why is it always you who has to change the toilet roll; will putting your razor blades under a pyramid really keep them sharp or will you never know because your kids laugh at you every time you try to build one; and isn't it possible that there actually could be fairies at the bottom of the garden, given that none of us, if asked, could accurately pinpoint the bottoms of our gardens?
Consider the sunglass shop, one of our quiet suburban mysteries. There's no way people buy enough pairs of $300 sunglasses to justify a shop in every mall. Don't let the mirror lenses dazzle you, sunglass stores on this scale make no sense. The truth could be anything. They could be mirages hiding the entrance to an enchanted world. They could be supplying protective lenses to a race of UV-sensitive aliens that secretly live among us. Or they could even be the most arcane mystery of them all, a tax write-off.
Speaking of sun, our inability to accurately predict weather is another of life's great mysteries. Not why we can't get it right, but rather, why we think we can do it at all. We're a tiny island country, a thin strip of rock and national pride in the hilariously named Pacific Ocean. Weather doesn't care about us enough to be predictable, as everyone who's ever put out washing knows. We spend December talking about moving the Christmas holidays to February for the stable, sunny weather, but when we get there we're like, "Oh. Never mind." For every accurately predicted "partly cloudy" day there's an urban sinkhole or airborne bouncy castle to remind us that nature likes to remain a bit of an enigma.
Then there's the inexplicable. Take helium balloons, those seemingly innocent bladders of joy. Why are we allowed these? Helium is a finite element; when it's gone, it's gone. It's a coolant for major medical equipment like MRI machines, so its loss would be catastrophic, although to be fair it does make your voice sound hilarious.
For every event with a jolly balloon arch, a little bit of something that can't be replaced is lost forever, like your dignity after the Chicken Dance. Helium's molecules are tiny - they eventually escape from the balloon, then out through the atmosphere into space. Yes, your balloon gas went to space, so it's cooler than you in two ways.
Some people are determined to keep hold of the mysteries of the past, even when they've been thoroughly debunked. There are professional Bigfoot hunters, an occupation which must be quite boring but offers excellent job security. Others are determined to get a better photograph of the Loch Ness Monster, as if anyone believes in photos these days. Recently there's been a resurgence of the quirkiest of mad delusions, the flat-Earth theory. For flat-Earthers the sky is a dome over a plate-shaped world, as though Earth was a chop being kept warm for an unknown cosmic diner. The flat-Earther bravely flies in the face of evidence until, of course, they bump into the dome.
We shouldn't wonder why people cling to mysteries in the face of cold, impersonal science. It's depressing to envisage an infinite, uncaring universe spiralling away from us in every direction like hopes and dreams after high school.
When so much of life's mystery can be dissolved with a quick Google, the lure of the unknown becomes even more seductive. The Bermuda Triangle made it seem as though a certain amount of romance still lingered in the world, as though parts of the map were still marked "Here Be Dragons" and not just as a marketing stunt for Game of Thrones.
This year the America's Cup is being held in Bermuda but the only thing expected to vanish is our hopes of winning it.