Rick's List -- Problems solved edition

We have a long list of unsolved mysteries in our house, and I suspect most folks do.

Once, so I could rest easy while recovering from a total knee replacement, I slept in our main bed, and my wife Eileen stayed in the upstairs guest quarters, which we call "The New Orleans Room" for decor that includes actual voodoo accoutrements. During the night, she was awakened from a sound sleep with the horribly real sensation that she was being choked — and no one was there. Then, a few nights later, it happened again!

Since A) I have no desire to choke my wife, B) couldn't have done so because I was immobile and C) we didn't rent a room to Albert DeSalvo, we still have no idea what happened. Tell ya what: We're not going back into the New Orleans Room (though it IS reserved for guests we're not all that wild about).

Then, another time, I lost a sock. Menacing, right?

Well, history is full of these knotty conundrums. I fully believe, though, that, ultimately, they'll all be solved — and we'll laugh when we see, in retrospect, how obvious it was all along. For example:

1. One of the Clay Mathematics Institute's Millennial Prize Problems of, like, really hard arithmetic, is the Birch and Swinnerton-Dyer Conjecture, which describes the set of rational solutions to equations defining an elliptic curve.

What we'll someday learn from the person who figures it out: "I feel sheepish. Forgot to carry the one."

2. In 1865, at the end of the Civil War, Confederate Secretary of the Treasury George Trenholm liquidated a fortune in gold, silver, and jewels from Richmond — and no one has ever figured out what he did with it. I assume there are still Civil War re-enactors who veer off from prescribed battlefield scripts and feverishly dig holes in fields all around Richmond, hoping to find the treasure.

What we'll someday learn: A generations-removed ancestor of Trenholm's will find the treasury secretary's diary hidden in a box of old butternut brown uniforms. Under the date Aug. 17, 1866, will be the cryptic entry, "Very nice here in Saratoga. No one knows me. Damn that horse track, though! Blew it all — ALL! — on a steed named 'South's Gonna Do It Again'! Mustn't tell Mother."

3. Stonehenge. How did those giant blocks get there?

What we'll learn: An unearthed Celtic burial ground will expose the remains of a really big, strong Druid.

4. The Great Pyramids of Egypt. Ditto on heavy blocks.

What we'll learn: An archaelogist will discover a Papyrus scroll in a secret tomb on which the hieroglyphics read: "Borrowed big, strong guy from Druids. Dude's amazing." 

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