• Weird History

Wild, True Historical Stories That Made Us Wonder If Time Travel Is Actually Possible

List RulesVote up the stories that seem like a time traveler definitely intervened.

Life is full of mysteries. Often, these can be chalked up to random coincidence, or more often than not to the simple laws of physics. But sometimes, stories just sound too weird to be true, like how two different, otherwise perfectly good guns both misfire on the same day - for the same person. Or how a novel written years before seemingly predicted a tale of cannibalism. 

This list delves into stories that sound made up, but aren't. They are 100% true. Here you'll find tales of individual humans actually saving the world, as well as everyday humans seemingly predicting destruction. There are some screw-ups, as well as some heroes who save the day. Whether for better or for worse, these weird coincidences changed history. 

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  • Photo: Unknown / Wikimedia Commons / Public domain

    Leonardo da Vinci is famous for the artistic masterpieces he left behind, done via drawing, painting, and sculpting. But he seemed to work just as well with the left side of his brain as he did with the creative right, also being knowledgeable in architecture, chemistry, metallurgy, and more. And da Vinci was the founding brain behind many of the inventions we have today.

    For instance, he was trying to create ways for humans to take to the skies long before the Wright brothers did so. Although no working model was ever found, da Vinci did devise a type of flying machine, modeled after the flight of birds. According to his design, a man could stay aloft by being strapped into a set of wooden wings and flapping them. He also left behind several designs for what we would today call human gliders, and came up with the predecessor to the modern helicopter with his "aerial screw."

    Da Vinci also invented what became one of the first parachutes - a device made of wooden poles covered by a cloth, fashioned into a pyramid-type shape. It would be another 300 years or so before a workable parachute was invented. Nearly five centuries later, da Vinci's original parachute design was tested - and it was successful.

    He also designed (but never created) what many consider the first machine gun. The original armor-covered tank was also predated by da Vinci, with his design for a metal-covered wagon with openings for men to shoot from. He even designed a robotic knight, which a roboticist at NASA built hundreds of years later.

    And while he had some out-there ideas and incredible designs, da Vinci can also be credited with inventing some of our favorite everyday items. Scissors and diving suits were invented by the artist, along with the machine to make screws. He also built some of the earliest odometers, which helped him measure distance and make incredibly accurate military maps.

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  • Photo: Unknown / Wikimedia Commons / Public domain

    The Titanic was never supposed to sink. Even more unlikely is the fact that a novel written 14 years earlier featured the sinking of the world's largest, supposedly unsinkable passenger ship.

    American author Morgan Robertson first published Futility, or The Wreck of the Titan in 1898, a tale about the Titan, the world's largest passenger ship ever to cruise the seas. However, on its maiden voyage, it hits an iceberg and sinks in the North Atlantic. Many of the passengers perish due to a shortage of lifeboats. 

    Fourteen years later, the Titanic passenger ship was ready to set sail on its maiden voyage, from Southampton, England, to New York City. Just like the similarly named boat in Robertson's novel, the Titanic met its fate with an iceberg in the frigid waters of the Atlantic Ocean. As is well known, a majority of the passengers lost their lives because lifeboats were in short supply.

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  • Photo: Lt. H A Mason / Wikimedia Commons / Public domain
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    The Answer To Defeating German Magnetic Mines Fell Into The Lap Of The British In World War II

    As in World War I, World War II featured heavy attacks on commercial and military vessels. Both Great Britain and Germany had been racing to make a more effective - and secretive - mine during WWI before the armistice. In WWII, it became clear that Germany had gained the advantage. 

    Germany had perfected the creation and execution of magnetic mines, which were nearly undetectable and almost equally destructive. The detonating mines were wreaking havoc on Britain's war effort. But without a physical sample to inspect, Britain had no idea how to neutralize these mines and prevent future attacks.

    And then one night, a German plane literally dropped the answer right into the heart of London. As the aircraft was being attacked, it released its cargo, and the cargo just so happened to be a magnetic mine. Experts in Britain immediately disassembled it to understand how it worked - and how they could prevent future mines from working. The Royal Air Force and Royal Navy then went to work minesweeping the seas, successfully disengaging hundreds of mines, and clearing the sea lanes for maritime travel once again.

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  • Photo: Olga Arkhipova / Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY-SA 4.0

    It's October 1962, and the Cuban Missile Crisis is in full swing. A Soviet submarine is lying in Caribbean waters, rocking back and forth from American depth charges. The sub is also armed with a nuclear missile capable of taking out the entire American fleet surrounding it. 

    Shut off from communication with Moscow, with no option to surface, and undergoing constant attacks, the captain decides to give the order: launch the missile. However, for the missile to be armed, consensus among the commanders was required. A young man named Vasili Arkhipov declined to give his support. Instead, he convinced the captain that the American depth charges were an attempt at communication, not a direct attack.

    After a heated debate in which the details of what was actually said are disputed, the submarine did not ready the missile, and instead surfaced peacefully. After communicating with the American fleet, the Soviet submarine left the Caribbean and headed back to Moscow. 

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