There aren't supposed to be any mysteries in the Digital Age.
The answers to most questions, it seems, can be found using Google or Twitter. So, maybe that's why the world is captivated by the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 and why it has created a legion of armchair sleuths, spouting theories in some cases so strange they belong in science-fiction films.
Casual conversations in supermarket aisles, barbershop chairs and office building cafeterias have centered on the mystery and how much we don't know. With the search for the missing Boeing 777 entering its seventh day, the passengers' families are left without closure while the intrigue _ and hypotheses _ continue to grow for the rest of us.
“We're fascinated by it. We don't know what happened and we hope for a miracle,'' says John DiScala, who runs the travel advice site JohnnyJet.com. ``People want an answer and the suspense is killing them.''
Normally, travelers turn to DiScala for the latest deals on flights. But this week, he says, a page on his website dedicated to the latest news about the flight has received most of the attention.
The pros are just as perplexed. On TV and in online forums, aviation experts are more measured and analytical than the amateurs but in the end can't say with any certainty what happened.
With no distress call, no sign of wreckage and very few answers, the disappearance of the Malaysia Airlines plane is turning into one of the biggest aviation mysteries since Amelia Earhart vanished over the Pacific Ocean in 1937.
“Anybody who travels is intrigued with this story. How can a plane disappear? We've got satellites beaming down on everybody ...'' says Andrea Richard, a French-American in Paris who travels widely, including to Asia.
Theories abound. Some are serious: there was a catastrophic failure in the airframe or engines or there might have been a pilot error. Other ideas are the kinds to be found in science fiction movies: a new Bermuda Triangle, an alien abduction or something out of the Twilight Zone.
Terrorism isn't suspected but hasn't been ruled out either. But some people have come up with elaborate plots worthy of a James Bond villain where the plane is hijacked and lands on a remote island, undetected by radar.
Others have sat in their homes or offices scouring new commercial satellite images of the ocean, looking for any debris from the plane.
False leads and conflicting information have only