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Nothing is lost, nothing is created. Everything is transformed. That's the law of the conservation of mass and it's one of the oldest principles in physics.
Nothing in the universe can be completely destroyed. It can change form or break apart or annihilate into a burst of energy, but it never fully disappears.
If you can't figure out where it went, it means that you're not looking in the right place.
On March 26, 1938, one of the top physicists in the world got onto a ship from Palermo to Naples, Italy. When it pulled into port the next morning, he didn't get off. There's nowhere he could have gone except over the deck into the water. But after a long search of the area, his body was never found. He just vanished without a trace. But everyone knows disappearing into thin air isn't physically possible. So if a Tory Mirena no longer existed, what had become of him?
This is Supernatural, a podcast original, and I'm your host, Ashleigh Flowers, every Wednesday, I'll take a deep dive into a real unexplained mystery to try and figure out the truth. This week, we're talking about the disappearance of a Tori Mirana. You can find all episodes of Supernatural and all other cast originals for free on Spotify. And if you like what you're hearing, reach out on Facebook and Instagram at Precast and on Twitter at podcast network.
Today, the name Attrit Mironov doesn't ring a bell to most of the world, but in 1938, Miren, on his reputation was about on par with Albert Einstein. He was one of the most respected physicist in the entire world and he was only 31 years old, which makes me feel like I have a lot of catching up to do as a 31 year old. The reason no one remembers him is because he rarely ever published his work, even though he made incredible groundbreaking discoveries.
For example, in 1932, he figured out that the nucleus of an atom is made up of protons and a neutral particle, which we now know as neutrons today. That's the first thing you'll learn in a chemistry class. But at the time, neutrons hadn't even been discovered yet. Miren his findings were huge, but for unknown reasons. He sat on his own notes and refused to publish them. Less than a month later, another scientist named James Chadwick discovered the neutron and eventually won the Nobel Prize.
A few months after that, Werner Heisenberg theorized that the nucleus is made up of protons and neutrons, and he won a Nobel Prize to a Tory. Mironov got nothing, and weirdly, he wasn't even upset about it. In fact, when he found out Heisenberg had beaten him to the punch, he just laughed. But in 1937, Mironov published his first paper in years, and it was impressive enough to earn him a special appointment as a full professor at the University of Naples in Italy.
He gave his first lecture in January of 1938, and everyone was fascinated to see what he would do next. And then two months into his appointment on Monday, March 28, he didn't show up to his scheduled class. The director of the Physics Institute, Antonio Correlli, was immediately alarmed because over the weekend he received two warring letters from Mironov in quick succession. The first was kind of cryptic, but Carelli took it for a suicide note. It was sent the previous Friday, March 25th, and it read, I have come to an inevitable decision.
You cannot trace a single hint of selfishness in it. But I do understand the problems that my sudden disappearance may cause to you and the students, all of whom I will cherish in my heart, at least until 11:00 tonight and possibly even after that. Now, that would be a pretty clear indicator of what had happened if it wasn't for the second letter. This one was sent the very next morning from Palermo, which is about ten hours away from Naples by boat.
This one said, The sea has rejected me and tomorrow I'll return to Naples. I have, however, decided to give up teaching. Don't take me for an Ibsen heroine because the case is quite different. I'm at your disposal for further details. So if you're like me, you're like, what the heck is an innocent heroine? Henrik Ibsen wrote two plays where a female character takes their own life in the end so we can figure out what Mironov means by Don't Take Me for an Ibsen heroine.
He'd clearly changed his mind about taking his own life. But then where was he? Carelli figures maybe he's been delayed and he was still on his way back, so he doesn't want to sound the alarm quite yet, but he's worried enough that he calls Enrico Fermi, the chair of physics at the University of Rome.
Once upon a time, Mirana had been Fermi's student, they had a bit of a falling out a few years ago and stopped working together, but they still occasionally kept in touch. So Carelli calls in and asked if Fermoy or any of his colleagues have heard from Meyer on it, but they haven't.
Carelli tells him about the letters and Fermoy knows this is that he immediately calls the Mirena family, asking if Attrit was with them in Rome and his sister says no. I mean, as far as we know, he's in Naples. Well, he's not in Naples. And now we know he's not in Rome. So they contact the hotel in Palermo that he sent that second letter from. And he's not there either. The next day, a Torie's brother's head to Naples to search his room.
All his stuff is still there except for his passport, which he seems to have taken with him. And on the desk is a letter addressed to his family. The entire note says this. I have one desire. Do not wear black. If you feel the need to follow the practice, you may carry some sign of mourning. But for no more than three days after that, remember me in your hearts if you can. And forgive me. On its face, this note also seems to point to suicide, but he never actually says as much and his family finds it really hard to believe that he would do that.
So at this point, they call the police based on the immediate investigation. Here's what was put together about the last couple of days before Miren on his disappearance. On the morning of Friday, March 25th, Mironov showed up at the university, even though he didn't have a class to give that day. He flagged down one of his students, Goulder, who was studying in an empty lecture room. Now, Miranda and Gilda had hardly ever spoken to each other outside of class, so Jodha wasn't able to make sense of why he went to her with this.
But he gave her a folder of papers and told her to hold onto them. She's confused, but all he says is we'll talk about it later.
Now, he obviously knows full well that they won't talk about it later because the next thing he does is he goes back to the hotel where he's been living and writes his farewell letters to go back to that first letter to Carelli. There are a few things that are a little bit odd. He never actually alludes to the idea of suicide. He just says that he's come to an inevitable decision that will lead to his sudden disappearance. However, he uses the Italian words capasso, which generally means disappearance, but it's also a euphemism for death.
And then there's the final sentence. He says he'll cherish them in his heart at least until 11:00 tonight and possibly even after that. That timing is both really specific and also incredibly vague. Fast forward to 11:00 p.m. that night. Mirana is on a boat from Naples to Palermo. According to the ticket stub, the boat left at 10 30. So they would be just out of the harbor at that point. Now, why he's going to Palermo is anyone's guess.
When the boat docks the next morning, the first thing he does is buy a return ticket to Naples for the same night. Then he writes a second letter to Carelli saying that he's changed his mind. He sends the letter via express mail and he also calls the hotel that he's been living at in Naples and tells them not to give away his room at 11 p.m. that night. This is Saturday, March 26. Now he gets on a ferry back to Naples, fully planning to return to his life.
There's a ticket stub proving that he got on board, but there's no record of him getting off and no one ever saw him in Naples again. The only other possibility is that he jumped overboard and drowned. Now, when police look at all the pieces, they immediately dismiss this as a suicide and you can't really blame them. There are the goodbye letters, the papers he gave to a student for safekeeping. And from what everyone could tell, Mirana had been depressed for a long time before this four years ago, he had a complete nervous breakdown.
No one was sure what exactly happened. But all of a sudden, he cut off contact with all of his friends and colleagues, boarded himself up in a room at his parents house and totally retreated from the world. He lived in near complete isolation for four years until January of 1938, when he started his new job at the University of Naples. So is it any surprise that just two months later, he finally snapped? So taking all this into account, the police do a cursory investigation, but it just really isn't their top priority.
This is 1938 in fascist Italy. World War Two is just around the corner and they have bigger things to worry about. But in their haste, they ignore a lot of the facts that just don't add up. First of all, Myron, his body was never found. The route that the ship took from Palermo to Naples is very well traveled. So if he jumped off and drowned, someone would have come across his body eventually. Secondly, he was carrying his passport.
He wouldn't have needed a passport to go from Naples to Palermo and back. So he must have been planning to go somewhere else outside of the country. Also, right before he left for Palermo, he withdrew a huge amount of money from his bank, the equivalent of about 75000 dollars. Today, that money has never turned up anywhere. So where did it go and what was he planning to do with it? The police failed to answer any of this.
They don't look into the possibility of foul play at all. So the Mironov family takes matters into their own hands. They tracked down a man named Vittorio Strategery who was assigned to the same cabin as a Tory on the ship from Palermo to Naples. Vittorio looks at a photo and confirms, yep, that's the guy who was sleeping across from me. He was on board asleep all the way until we got to port the next morning. By then it was broad daylight and the deck was super crowded.
There was an entire Italian army battalion traveling on board. So if Mironov had decided to jump right then and there, someone definitely would have seen him. But if he got off the ship, you'd think someone would have seen him do that to. At this point, the MIREN is we're getting frustrated with the lack of answers. It was time to pull out the big guns. As it turns out, one of Ataris closest friends is the son of a very powerful senator.
Geovani gently, gently goes to the head of the Louvre, which is essentially the Italian version of the Gestapo, and he tells them to get on the case. The minister of education reaches out to Naples police commissioner as well. Enrico Fermi sent a letter to Mussolini himself, and the family even petitioned the pope for help. But the search continues to go nowhere. Again, it's reasonable to assume that Mussolini and the pope had bigger worries on their plate. But when you really look at what Mironov was working on, you begin to wonder if there's another reason the Italian government buried the case or if they might even be the ones responsible for his disappearance.
Coming up, we have clues that Miranda's disappearance was more nefarious than it seems, and now back to the story.
When a story Meyer on a disappeared in 1938, the police were sure they were dealing with a suicide. There's nowhere he could have gone except over the side of a boat. And sad as it was, it seemed like a logical end to his four year nervous breakdown. But what no one bothered to ask is what triggered that breakdown in the first place. Let's circle back to 1932. Mirana was 25 years old then and doing research with Enrico Fermi Group at the University of Rome.
That was the year Mironov discovered that the nucleus is made of protons and neutrons, but refused to publish his theory. If you remember, Heisenberg went on to publish that same idea a few months later and got all the credit for the discovery. Now Heisenberg's theory was super incomplete, and it had big holes that Mironov knew how to fix. So he got a grant to spend a few months in Germany doing research with Heisenberg to work out the flaws. He arrived in Germany in January of 1933, and a week later Hitler was elected chancellor.
For the record, Italy had already been a fascist dictatorship for over a decade at this point, so Mironov wasn't too fazed by this. But then all of a sudden in May, something changed. We don't know what happened, but Mironov totally shut down. His relationship with Heisenberg disintegrated. He completely severed ties with everyone at the University of Rome with no explanation. When he got back from Germany in the fall, he took to his room and shut himself off from the world.
It's hard to say whether the political situation had anything to do with this, but when you look at what his colleagues were doing at the time, it doesn't seem like a coincidence. Back at the University of Naples, Ferme and his team were continuing the work.
Mironov had started nuclear reactions. What they found is that if you throw stray neutrons at an atom of a certain element, it'll turn into a different radioactive element. They went through the periodic table, testing each element one by one, and the same thing happened each time. They were interested to see what happened when they got to uranium. The last naturally occurring element on the table. Now, when one of Fermi's team members told Mirana what they were up to, he didn't even want to hear about it.
Allegedly, he just replied, physics is on the wrong path. We are all on the wrong path.
He never elaborated on this, so there's no way to be sure what he meant. But there's speculation that he might have already known exactly what would happen when they reached uranium. The reason it's the last natural element on the periodic table is because anything past that is extremely unstable. If you bombarded uranium with more neutrons, it won't just absorb them. The nucleus will break in half. This starts a chain reaction, releasing more and more energy at an uncontrollable rate until it just goes kaboom.
If this technology was weaponized, it could cause unprecedented destruction. And in the political climate of the time, it wasn't a matter of if, but when. Now, if Mironov knew this at the time, he didn't say a word. But looking at the timeline, it seems like this realization might have been what triggered his breakdown in the first place.
Mironov had vanished before nuclear weapons became a real consideration, but from our vantage point today, we know how this ends. At the end of 1938, Fermi won the Nobel Prize for his uranium experiment, and nuclear fission eventually became the basis for the nuclear bomb. Fermi and a lot of his colleagues eventually fled to the U.S., where they worked on the Manhattan Project, creating the bomb for the allies. And Werner Heisenberg worked on the nuclear program in Nazi Germany.
The man who started it all, a Tory Mironov, would have been a huge asset to either side if he hadn't mysteriously disappeared during the war.
There were rumors that Mirana had been kidnapped and spirited off to a Nazi laboratory. Years later, Mussolini actually assigned the ambassador in Berlin to look into these rumors. The investigation never got anywhere because the war ended and Nazi Germany collapsed. But if we really look at this theory ourselves, the timeline just doesn't quite add up. The German nuclear program didn't even exist until 1939, a full year after Mironov disappeared. However, there could have been something else that he was working on that caught the Nazis attention, something that could even be more catastrophic than the atomic bomb.
If you remember, right before he left for Palermo, Mironov gave a folder of his papers to his student, Gilda. Eventually, she gave it to Correlli, and from there the trail gets muddy. The folder might have ended up with the rest of Meyer on his papers in a scientific archive in Pisa. But somehow the entire box of papers disappeared from the archive. Everything he'd written from 1934 onward, no one ever figured out what happened to them.
All we have to go on is the last paper Mirana actually published in 1937, the one that got him his professorship. It was called Symmetrical Theory of the Electron and the Positron, and it was about anti matter.
And antiparticle is basically identical to its corresponding particle, but it has the opposite electric charge. For example, an electron has a negative charge while an anti electron also called a positron has a positive charge. When a particle and its antiparticle meet, they annihilate each other, disappearing into a burst of energy. What Mironov realized is why do the particle and the antiparticle have to be two separate entities? If the only difference is that one's positive and one's negative, wouldn't it make a lot more sense if it was just the same single particle gaining and losing energy over time?
So he proposed the idea of a particle that's also its own antiparticle, which became known as the Mirana Fermi on. Until recently, this was entirely theoretical and no one believed it could really exist, but in 2017, 80 years after the fact, researchers finally found hard evidence of the Mironov fermions. We still don't totally understand how this particle works, but it looks like he was actually right, which begs a comparison to his nuclear research. If Mironov unlocked the secrets of anti matter, it's not hard to imagine how it could be weaponized.
In fact, the Mironov fermions is often called the angel particle. In reference to the Dan Brown book Angels and Demons. In the book, the Illuminati tries to blow up the Vatican with a bomb made of anti matter.
Now, that's all science fiction for now, but if anyone could figure it out, it was probably a story, Mirana. The thing is, after World War Two, the allied powers captured as many German scientists as they could get their hands on, there was no sign of Mirana or any anti matter bomb. So we can rule out the Nazi kidnapping theory. But after seeing where nuclear research was going, Miren up might have thought, you know, fool me once I'm getting out of here and taking my antiparticles with me.
So he took his remaining notes, walked away and made himself disappear. But where on earth did he go for over a decade? The answer to that question was a total blank. Then in the 50s, new evidence emerged that Otori Mirana was still alive and hiding in the last place anyone would ever think to look.
We'll put together the final pieces right after this. Now back to the story. In 1950, a Chilean physicist named Carlos Ribeiro was staying at a boarding house in Buenos Aires, Argentina, at the time, he was writing a paper that referenced the work of long disappeared, a story microRNA, when the owner of the boarding house saw what he was working on. She was shocked. She said a story. Mirana is a friend of my son's. At first, Rivera thought, I mean, this has to be a coincidence.
Mirana was a fairly common last name in Argentina, but this woman insisted, no, this is the same guy. The famous Italian physicist Rivera even showed her a picture of Mirana in a textbook. And she says, yeah, that's him. Apparently, he had abandoned physics a while ago and was focusing on engineering. That's how he knew the woman's son, who was also an engineer. Mirana had told her son that he'd left Italy because he didn't get along with Enrico Fermi.
The root of the problem was that Fermoy was partially responsible for creating the atom bomb. So this sounds about right, but there's no way to fact check it because the woman wouldn't tell Rivera where the elusive scientist was actually staying. She said it's too dangerous to speak about any further. Carlos Rivera didn't really take this woman too seriously, so he didn't push it. That is until 10 years later in 1960 when he visited Buenos Aires again. This time, he was sitting at a restaurant inside the Hotel Continental, working through some math formulas on a paper napkin, the waiter saw it and he said they had another customer who used to come in all the time and write formulas on napkins as well.
He was an Italian physicist and his name was a Tory mirana. Once again, this waiter didn't know where to find my Irana. But here's something interesting. The Hotel Continental was located near the University of Buenos Aires School of Exact and Natural Sciences. That's the same school that the boarding house owner's son went to. And here's something even more interesting. Mironov was already familiar with this exact school. Before his disappearance. Fermoy gave a series of lectures there in 1934 and in 1937, just months before Mironov disappeared, another colleague of his gave a lecture there as well.
As it turns out, there's a compelling explanation for how and why Mironov would have ended up there in the first place. I mentioned earlier that one of Miren, his hobbies was war gaming. And since he's an overachiever, he used real naval records to put together his games, including the 1937 Nautical Almanac, which listed all the planned arrivals and departures for the upcoming year of 1938. There's exactly one passenger cruise ship included in that almanac, and it's the Oceania which travels between Italy and South America.
As it happens, the Oceania had a voyage from Naples to Buenos Aires departing on Saturday, March 26. This is where things get a little tricky, the morning of the 26th is when my Irana landed in Palermo at the end of his initial journey, he completely missed the Oceania stop in Naples that day. But the timing is so close that it's hard to believe it's a total coincidence. Here's what might have happened. He initially was planning to throw himself off the ship between Naples and Palermo, but seeing that familiar ship on the departures list put a different idea in his head.
After all, his colleagues had just been there a few months ago, so he'd probably heard the anecdotes about how great Buenos Aires is. This was like a message from fate. Instead of taking his own life, he could just leave it all behind and disappear. So he turned around, went back to Naples, somehow got off the boat without detection and waited for the next ship that could take him to South America. And there the trail goes cold.
In the 1970s, another physicist named Erasmo Wakame started asking around to see if anyone else in Argentina had seen or heard from Mirena.
And the accounts piled up like crazy. It seemed like everyone in Buenos Aires knew him, but no one would say a word about where to find him. Some of them didn't know. Others went silent or refused to speak on the record. And some of them like that boarding house owner who'd started it all, said that it was too dangerous to dig into. Now, we can only guess what that means, but it's pretty likely that on a got into trouble with the Argentinian government when he was last seen in the early 50s, Argentina's president was one Peron who hated intellectuals.
By 1950, he'd fired over a thousand university professors for political reasons, and many of the scientists who still had jobs were getting to work on, you guessed it, a nuclear energy program. Knowing how Mironov felt about nuclear experiments, he probably did not want to participate. So once again, he took off and against all odds, decades later, a new piece of evidence was unearthed about where he'd gone.
In 2008, someone called in to the Italian TV show Chela Vesto, which examines missing persons cold cases. The caller had gone to Venezuela in 1955, where another Italian friend of his introduced him to a guy named Beanie. Beanie was in his 50s, shy and quiet, and he always carried around a whole folder filled with papers covered in math equations. Now, the caller had no idea who this mysterious character was until his friend from Argentina told him, quote, Do you realize who that guy is?
He's a scientist. That's Mr. Mirana, end quote. That friend had met Mirana in Argentina before. He apparently changed his name and started living undercover, presumably at some point in the mid 1950s. He fled the country to avoid trouble. Now, this would just be another unproven anecdote if it wasn't. For one thing, the caller convinced Mirana to take a photo with him as soon as the episode aired, the Italian press had a field day. The TV caller sent the photo in to the police and they compared it to a photo of Mironov from before he disappeared.
The facial analysis found ten points of recognition between the photos. That was enough for police to declare that they were almost certainly the same person. In 2015, prosecutors in Rome officially announced that the investigation was closed from 1955 to 1959, a Tory Mironov was alive in Valencia, Venezuela. Past that, though, no one can say for sure what happened to him when Enrico Fermi found out Mironov had vanished. He reportedly told his wife a story was too intelligent.
If he has decided to disappear, no one will be able to find him, not in this time or another. And more than 80 years later, he's still right. Maybe it's time to stop looking. The man clearly didn't want to be found, but it's hard not to wonder about those pages of notes that he always carried around with him in Venezuela. The equations that he scribbled on napkins in Buenos Aires, he was still working on something. We might never know what it is.
And maybe that was his point. We're better off not knowing. Thanks for listening. I'll be back next week with another episode, you can find all episodes of Supernatural and all other Parkhurst originals for free on Spotify. Spotify has all your favorite music and podcasts all in one place. They're making it easier to listen to whatever you want to hear for free on your phone, computer or smart speaker. And if you like the show, follow that podcast on Facebook and Instagram and app podcast network on Twitter.
Supernatural was created by Max Cutler and stars Ashley Flowers and is a podcast studio's original. It is executive produced by Max Cutler, Sound Design by Ron Shapiro with production assistance by Carly Madden and Jill Stein. This episode of Supernatural was written by Kate Gallagher with writing assistants by Drew Dracul. To hear more stories hosted by me, check out Crime Junkie and all audio check originals.