Melville, Le Doulous, 1962 via Survival Tower Films blog
Explorers discover a lost world with thick cloud and fogs trapped inside
Adventurers have stumbled across a cave so enormous that it has its own weather system, complete with wispy clouds and lingering fog inside vast caverns.
A team of expert cavers and photographers have been exploring the vast cave system in the
Chongquing province of China and have taken the first-ever photographs of the natural wonder.
They were amazed to discover the entrance to the hidden Er Wang Dong cave system and were stunned when they managed to climb inside to see a space so large that it can contain a cloud.
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Photographer and caver Robbie Shone, from Manchester, was part of a team of 15 explorers on a month-long expedition that discovered the hidden system.
‘All the major passageways were deep underground and had never seen light before.
The tranquil rural village of Ranjiagou falls nearby the hidden natural wonder is pictured left, while an intrepid caver stands on the central ridge overlooking the cathedral-like Cloud Ladder Hall, where fog conceals the roof hundreds of metres above (right)
‘It is always very special, knowing that you are the first to step foot into a cave or somewhere where nobody had previously seen, not knowing what you might find and discover.
‘Where else on Earth can still hold secrets and mysteries of discovery? That’s what I love so much about exploring.
Mr Shones was particularly excited about the cave network’s interior weather system.
‘I had never seen anything quite like the inside cloud ladder before,’ he said.
‘Thick cloud and fogs hangs in the upper half of the cave, where it gets trapped and unable to escape through the small passage in the roof, 250m above the ground.
‘It reminded me of being in an abandoned slate quarrying North Wales in bad weather.
The cave system discovered is not the only one with clouds inside, as humidity rises inside the caverns into colder air to form clouds inside the giant, enclosed spaces.
The network, includes ‘Cloud Ladder Hall’ which itself measures around 51,000 metres squared, while there are rivers and vegetation on the floor of some of its huge caverns.
‘Most caves are either accessed by large walking entrance, some require a long deep swim, other may be very vertical in nature where you need ropes to abseil down the walls deep into the caves.
‘We had to be aware of high water levels inside the caves, especially when it rained heavily on the surface.
‘The drainage catchment to these caves is massive and soon the caves can be extremely dangerous and impassable,’ he added.
ACCORDING to Dante, the Styx is not just a river but a vast, deathly swamp filling the entire fifth circle of hell. Perhaps the staff of New Scientist will see it when our time comes but, until then, Lake Natron in northern Tanzania does a pretty good job of illustrating Dante’s vision.
Unless you are an alkaline tilapia (Alcolapia alcalica) – an extremophile fish adapted to the harsh conditions – it is not the best place to live. Temperatures in the lake can reach 60 °C, and its alkalinity is between pH 9 and pH 10.5.
The lake takes its name from natron, a naturally occurring compound made mainly of sodium carbonate, with a bit of baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) thrown in. Here, this has come from volcanic ash, accumulated from the Great Rift valley. Animals that become immersed in the water die and are calcified.
Photographer Nick Brandt, who has a long association with east Africa – he directed the video for Michael Jackson’s Earth Song there in 1995 – took a detour from his usual work when he discovered perfectly preserved birds and bats on the shoreline. “I could not help but photograph them,” he says. “No one knows for certain exactly how they die, but it appears that the extreme reflective nature of the lake’s surface confuses them, and like birds crashing into plate glass windows, they crash into the lake.”
When salt islands form in the lake, lesser flamingos take the opportunity to nest – but it is a risky business, as this calcified bird (top) illustrates. The animals are all arranged in poses by the photographer. Above, on the right we have a sea eagle and on the left a dove, in what is surely the most horrific depiction of the “bird of peace” since Picasso’s Guernica.
Brandt’s new collection of photos featuring animals in east Africa, Across the Ravaged Land, is published by Abrams Books.
This article appeared in print under the headline “The lake that petrifies” via New Scientist
Francoise Hardy in Central Park, 1969. — Image by © JP Laffont/Sygma/Corbis
This “Histomap,” created by John B. Sparks, was first printed by Rand McNally in 1931.
This giant, ambitious chart fit neatly with a trend in nonfiction book publishing of the 1920s and 1930s: the “outline,” in which large subjects (the history of the world! every school of philosophy! all of modern physics!) were distilled into a form comprehensible to the most uneducated layman. Continue reading
Colon Cemetery in Havana, Cuba is the site of the celebrated ‘boneyard’. A single grave in the cemetery cost $10 in rent for five years. At the end of the five years, if the remains were not claimed, the bones were thrown into the boneyard by the cemetery authorities.
In the 1890s, American soldiers often removed skulls and bones and drove through the streets of Havana displaying them. Their commander, General Brooke ordered the practice to stop and gave instructions for the pit to be covered over. Two cards, here, show American soldiers stood on the thirty foot deep pile holding up bones in the shape of the skull and crossbones. Photographs were taken and sold commercially as souvenir postcards to send home to their loved ones.
Article via Creating Pictures in my Mind blog