Natural Phenomena That Science Has Trouble Explaining

Published July 15, 2014
Updated February 27, 2024

Monarch Migration

Natural Phenomena Monarch Flower

In general, little is known about insect orientation. Monarch butterflies and their migration are especially mysterious; they start out spread over eastern and central North America, and all end up in the same small area central Mexican often down to the same few trees.

Only every fifth generation of monarchs migrates, so they don’t learn the path -or when to start traveling it- from their ancestors.

Natural Phenomena Monarch Purple Flower

We can take what we understand about instinct and couple it with other cues—the sun, moon, magnetic fields, air temperatures, infrared perceptions, and landmarks, for example—but no matter what we might speculate from the seemingly endless combination of possibilities, the bottom line is that these butterflies just know.

Natural Phenomena Monarch Cluster

The Taos Hum

The residents of Taos, New Mexico are very aware of the phenomenon that affects them, as well as several other locations around the US, Canada and the UK. Somewhere between 2-11% of the people who reside in a hum-hotspot like Taos play perennial host to a low-frequency hum that defies scientific explanation.

Once mechanical emissions were ruled out, several of the other places affected, such as Bristol, England; Largs, Scotland; and Wellington, New Zealand began looking for explanations in colliding ocean waves, mating calls of fish, spontaneous otoacoustic emissions (sounds generated by the ear itself) or tinnitus. Several hum sufferers have moved away from Taos or other affected areas, and have since claimed that the hum stopped and health related side effects (such as anxiety) had subsided.

The video below contains what is likely a reproduction of the sound, as it has such a low frequency that the buzz it is not yet known to be captured on tape.

Erin Kelly
An All That's Interesting writer since 2013, Erin Kelly focuses on historic places, natural wonders, environmental issues, and the world of science. Her work has also been featured in Smithsonian and she's designed several book covers in her career as a graphic artist.
Savannah Cox
Savannah Cox holds a Master's in International Affairs from The New School as well as a PhD from the University of California, Berkeley, and now serves as an Assistant Professor at the University of Sheffield. Her work as a writer has also appeared on DNAinfo.
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Kelly, Erin. "Natural Phenomena That Science Has Trouble Explaining.", July 15, 2014, Accessed May 26, 2024.