Mental Floss Presents Be Amazing
Glow in the Dark, Control the Weather, Perform Your Own Surgery, Get Out of Jury Duty, Identify a Witch, Colonize a Nation, Impress a Girl, Make a Zombie, Start Your Own Religion
By Maggie Koerth-Baker HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. Copyright © 2009 Maggie Koerth-Baker
All right reserved. ISBN: 9780061251481
Find Buried Treasure
You will need
- A reliable guide (emphasis on "reliable")
- A shovel
Tip #1: Look in places you wouldn't expect
In other words, don't head straight for the Caribbean. Instead, try looking somewhere new, somewhere exotic—like, say, New Jersey. Turns out, the Garden State harbored a lot more piracy than you'd think. Most famously, the state (then a sparsely populated colony) was one of the last places notorious privateer-turned-pirate William Kidd visited before he was captured in 1700. Kidd was hanged in England, swearing to the end that he'd buried a fortune and would happily trade it for his life. No one was willing to take him up on his offer, possibly because a cache of gold worth roughly $2.4 million in today's currency had already been found near Long Island shortly after his arrest. But Kidd claimed that another $7.2 million worth of gold was left for the repillaging. If he wasn't lying, then it's still buried. Where? A story published in Issue 14 of the magazine Weird New Jersey suggests that the mostlikely spot is the Garden States Raritan Bay, where Kidd is known to have anchored and where 17th century gold coins have been found in two different locations. Further proof: Two of Kidd's former crewmen later turned up nearby—living significantly reformed (and, reportedly, wellfinanced) lives.
Tip #2: Look for objects you hadn't imagined
It's true, all the glitters isn't gold—sometimes, it's space rocks. In 2005, a professional meteorite hunter named Steve Arnold started leasing tracts of western Kansas farmland and scouring them for the metal lumps known as pallasites, extremely rare meteorites made up of iron and laced with hunks of crystal. Arnold's search was the result of an extensive study of pallasites found strewn over one Kansas county since 1900—all of which were leftover bits from a much larger meteorite that entered Earth's atmosphere somewhere around 10,000 to 20,000 years ago. By Arnold's calculations, there were still tons of pallasites left to be discovered and in October 2005, he was proven right. More than 5 feet beneath the farm field, he discovered the largest pallasite on record, a 1,430-pound behemoth. And, thanks to a rollicking collector market, Wired magazine estimated in January 2007 that the rock is worth more than $1 million. In fact, smaller pallasites Arnold has found have sold as yuppie objets d'art for anywhere from $40,000 and up.
Tip #3: Look for treasures bigger than a breadbox
You'd hate to miss the forest for the little wooden chests. After all, one of the greatest missing treasures in all of Europe is—literally—the size of a room. Originally given to the Russian Czar Peter the Great as a sign of friendship with Prussia, the Amber Room was just what it sounds like: An 11-square-foot room where just about every inch was covered in precious, intricately carved amber. Today, it would be worth $142 million—that is, if anyone knew where it was. Despite the Russians' valiant attempts to disguise the room behind wallpaper, the Nazis ended up finding and dismantling it during World War II. What happened next is all speculation. Various first-and-second person accounts have placed it in an abandoned German mine, in a torpedoed Nazi steamboat at the bottom of the Bering Sea, and—most ironically—burnt to cinders by the Allies during an air raid. Whatever the case, most historians don't expect the room to ever turn up intact. In 1997, however, German police did bust a man for trying to sell a jasper and onyx mosaic that had once been part of the Amber Room. The lead wasn't particularly useful, though. It turned out that the man's father had been part of the escort that brought the room from Russia nearly 60 years before and had swiped the piece then as a personal trophy. In April of 1997, the mosaic was returned to Russia. Continues...
Excerpted from Mental Floss Presents Be Amazing by Maggie Koerth-Baker Copyright © 2009 by Maggie Koerth-Baker. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.