Still More News

Great Freshwater Ocean Found Beneath Chinese Desert

One of the driest places on earth, the Tarim Basin in northwestern Xinjiang, China, may end up being one of the wettest. Well diggers there have stumbled on an enormous underground reservoir containing, it is said, more than 10 times the water of all of the U.S. Great Lakes combined.

According to the China Morning Post, reporting in late July, the discovery has been called by professor Li Yan of the Chinese Academy of Science, “a terrifying amount of water.”

In a time when water scarcity is considered, by many, the greatest challenge facing the planet, the find is very welcome, if unexpected, news. Hydrologists have long suspected that meltwater from nearby mountains could have accumulated somewhere beneath the basin, but until now they had been unable to find it.

There are other indicators that the precarious state of the world’s fresh water resources might ultimately be relieved by the unexpected bounty of Mother Earth. In December 2013, came news that Australian scientists have discovered massive reserves of “freshwater” buried beneath the seabed on continental shelves around the world. According to groundwater hydrogeologist Vincent Post, lead author of a study published in Nature, the estimated 500,000 cubic kilometers of low-salinity water in under-ocean aquifers is “a hundred times greater than the amount we’ve extracted from the Earth’s subsurface in the past century since 1900.”

Interestingly, the Gobi Desert in northern China was once a sea, and it is believed by some to have been the site of a lost ancient civilization that once enjoyed a golden age. Nicholas Roerich, the Russian painter and spiritual teacher, under the auspices of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, journeyed to the region in the 1920s in search of Shambhala, a mythical kingdom thought to have once been nearby. The kingdom wasn’t found, but the dream lives on.


Nazi Treasure Train Located?

In May of 1945, the story goes, the Germans occupying Poland became so worried about the rapidly advancing Russian army that they sent an armored train to Wroclaw to pick up an immense load of ill-gotten treasure—including, it was said, 23 boxes of gold bullion and other treasures. Witnesses say the train was seen leaving by a southwestern rail line. It had not been seen since.

Now, however, two anonymous men—a German and a Pole—claim to have found what appears to be the train. Shortly before press time, the existence of a hidden train seemed to be accepted by authorities, but its contents are unclear. One theory is that it contains the legendary “Amber Room” stolen from St. Petersburg in 1941.

Unofficial reports, quoted in the local press, suggest the train can be found inside a secret tunnel that exists next to an active railway to the north of Walbrzych.

Interest in the find is intense and many reporters and treasure hunters have flooded the area, even as authorities have cordoned off the location where the train is believed to be and warned of possible deadly booby traps, which may still be active.


Inflatable Space Elevator Proposed

Getting to outer space without a rocket has preoccupied some aerospace engineers for years, and one idea that has gotten plenty of buzz has been the ‘space elevator.’ In that concept, a platform in stationary Earth orbit—like a communications satellite—is secured to a fixed location on the ground with a few-thousand-miles-long, super-strong, cable. Elevators would travel up and down the cable taking freight on the first leg of trips to the moon and beyond. Japan’s Obayashi Corporation is working on a plan for a space elevator reaching a quarter of the way to the moon by 2050, but we may not need to wait so long to see another form of the idea put to work.

Thoth Technology, a Canadian company, has been granted a U.S. patent for a space elevator made of inflatable sections that could be stacked to over 12 miles high, well into the stratosphere. That is over twenty times the height of the tallest existing buildings on Earth. Spacecraft could take off, like aircraft, from a platform at the giddy top and reach space as easily as planes now reach high altitude. Astronauts would ascend the tower by means of an electrical elevator, which, it is thought, would employ some kind of friction contact, rather than cable, to climb the tower.

If nothing else, the planners believe, the tower would make a great tourist attraction, at least for those not afraid of heights. Whether the builders of the ancient tower of Babel held such notions is not clear but, we are told, their efforts did not end well.