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If there’s one thing that you just can’t screw around with, it’s death. Despite the beliefs of a bunch of world religions, it seems to be a one-way trip, so if you have things you need to get done on this planet, try to take care of them before you croak. The alternative can be disastrous, as the ten stories in this feature will demonstrate. Each of the people we’re talking about here had secret knowledge that could have changed humanity for the better, and each of them died without ever telling anybody what it was.

The Ogle Carburetor
10 Awesome Secrets People Took To The Grave
If you ask conspiracy theorists, they’ll tell you that the auto companies and the U.S. goverment know how to make cars with insanely good gas mileage, they just keep that technology locked up in a warehouse so their profits stay high. Tom Ogle believed that there had to be a better way, and in the 1970s he designed and built a new kind of carburetor that pressurized gasoline into a gas and pushed it into the firing chambers. He put it in his Ford Galaxie and got 113 miles to the gallon. Unfortunately, Ogle’s attempts to make the auto industry take notice didn’t work, and after he died in 1981 the only existing model of the carburetor was scrapped.

James Black’s Steel
10 Awesome Secrets People Took To The Grave
When you think of iconic American weapons, alongside the Colt 44 is the famous Bowie knife. Named after frontiersman and war hero Jim Bowie, the knife has a fascinating history. The first mass-manufacturedBowie knife was created by a blacksmith named James Black in 1830 and quickly became the tool of choice for settlers heading West. People raved about the quality and sharpness of Black’s steel, and he actually forged his blades behind a leather curtain so nobody could see his process. Unfortunately for knife lovers everywhere, an attack from Black’s deranged father-in-law left the artisan completely blind, and he never shared his technique with a single soul so it was lost when he died.

Stradivarius Violins
10 Awesome Secrets People Took To The Grave
In the modern world, it’s sort of a given that we make things fast, cheap, and designed to break. But back in olden times, craftsmanship was a little more valuable. Take the violins built by Antonio Stradivari, one of the greatest artisans of his time. The few that remain fetch insane prices at auction (over a million dollars, in some cases) due to their clear, beautiful tone. But what was the method that Stradivari and his contemporaries used to build and finish these instruments? We may never know. He kept no paper records of his work and modern scientists have been unable to figure it out.

The Pope’s Last Cardinal
10 Awesome Secrets People Took To The Grave
When you’re the living embodiment of a religion, a lot is riding on you. So one of the most mysterious stories in all of Catholicism involves the identity of the fourth “secret cardinal.” The church has a policy of naming cardinals “en pectore,” or in secret, if they live in countries that are hostile to Catholics. Only the Pope knows their names and can announce them to the public. When Pope John Paul II died, he was holding the identity of four of these cardinals. He told the church about three of them, but the fourth was never revealed and may still be out there somewhere.

Nikola Tesla’s Death Ray
10 Awesome Secrets People Took To The Grave
Serbian-American inventor Nikola Tesla is one of the great mythic figures of American industry, a man driven by his unknowable whims to experiment with the very forces of the universe itself. His legacy is significant, but one of his greatest and most terrifying creations went to the grave with him when he died in 1943. During the turmoil of World War II, Tesla claimed he’d invented a way to project lethal amounts of electricity through the air itself in a beam. He never constructed the device, but strangely, after his death, several hundred pages of his notes mysteriously vanished. Was the secret to the death ray in there? It’s quite possible, according to his relatives.

The Treasure Of Lima
10 Awesome Secrets People Took To The Grave
Even though you can look at just about any place on Earth courtesy of Google, there is still plenty of unexplored country out there. And one place a lot of people are still looking for is the legendary Treasure of Lima, a cache of treasure hidden on a remote island by Captain William Thompson. In 1820, the Peruvian government entrusted Thompson with a ton of gold and jewels to be transported to Mexico. The captain and his crew decided to go into business for themselves and buried the treasure somewhere off of Costa Rica instead. They were caught and tried for piracy, but Thompson died before he could tell anyone exactly where the fortune was hidden, and it has yet to be found to this day.

Beethoven’s Immortal Beloved
10 Awesome Secrets People Took To The Grave
Not all of the entries on this list can count their value in dollars and cents. This one is about a mysterious romance that has been lost to the ages. After the prolific composer Ludwig von Beethoven died in 1827, his relatives found a very unusual letter in his affairs. It was ten pages long and addressed to an “Immortal Beloved,” a woman who Beethoven obviously had great affection for. But none of the composer’s biographers have any idea who the recipient was intended to be. Some theories have been floated, but the true identity of Ludwig’s lover is lost for all time.

Starlite
10 Awesome Secrets People Took To The Grave
The world of material science is an interesting one. There are only a certain number of elements on Earth, and when people come up with new combinations of them it can be a big deal. Case in point: the story of Maurice Ward, who created a substance called Starlite that was, according to all tests, incredibly durable and heat-resistant. The world was introduced to Starlite on the TV show Tomorrow’s World, where the hosts wrapped an egg in it and blasted it with a blowtorch for five minutes, only to reveal that the egg was still cold and raw. Ward was super paranoid that people would steal his secrets and never let anybody have samples out of his sight. Unfortunately for us all, he passed on in 2011 and left no notes as to its composition.

The Maxberg Archaeopteryx
10 Awesome Secrets People Took To The Grave
Here’s something that was lost beneath the surface of the Earth for aeons, found, and then lost again. The flying reptile Archaeopteryx is one of the rarest dinosaurs to find in fossil form – only 11 are known to exist — and naturally they’re very valuable. One of the best was owned by Eduard Opitsch, who got it when workers found it in a limestone quarry he owned. He lent it to the Maxberg Museum, who displayed it for a time, but in 1974 Opitsch took it back for some reason. Rumors had it that the eccentric millionaire was storing the priceless fossil under his bed. When he died at 91, a catalog of his personal effects didn’t include the Archaeopteryx. Where did it go? We may never know.

Nauscopy
10 Awesome Secrets People Took To The Grave
Often times, people who make amazing discoveries don’t win the approval of the world at large. Take Etienne Bottineau, who was the creator of a totally new science called “nauscopy.” Bottineau claimed that by observing disturbances in the air, he could predict the arrival of ships that were several days over the horizon, before they could be sighted through telescopes. It sounds insane, but during his time on the island of Mauritius, Edwin had predicted the arrivals of hundreds of ships to the day and only been wrong twice. Whether he was really able to spot ships without the use of his eye or was just running a scam, the secrets of nauscopy were lost when Bottineau died. In a post-radar world, it doesn’t seem as important, but back in the day he was offered large sums of money for the technique.

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10 AWESOME SECRETS PEOPLE TOOK TO THE GRAVE

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