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World's Largest Crystals

Hemos posted more than 13 years ago | from the pretty-darn-cool-looking dept.

Science 142

el_guapo writes: "OK, this is just cool. From here, a mining company in Mexico opened up a couple of chambers containing the world's largest known crystals. From the article 'Walking into either of these caves is like stepping into a gigantic geode.'" Looks pretty impressive.

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

Re:Kudos all around (1)

Have Blue (616) | more than 13 years ago | (#436571)

I think he was just being vague. The Eye of the World was a sa'angreal.

::watches the moderators bury him in Offtopic::

Re:Wow those are big (1)

Danse (1026) | more than 13 years ago | (#436572)

In any case, I wan to sneak in there and take one home. Make it the center piece of my kitchen.

According to the article, the last guy that tried it ended up being crushed by the crystal he tried to pilfer.

This just in... (1)

algae (2196) | more than 13 years ago | (#436573)

An 80-foot tall giant that appears to be Shirley McClaine has been spotted rampaging towards Chihuahua, Mexico. Top scientists belive that the giant crystals have have over-energized her chakras and are causing the celebrity to mutate into some sort of '50s B-movie monster. Local townspeople hope to be rescued by a 100-foot tall Robert Smith, singer for pop band The Cure, and natural enemy of mutant female celebrities.

Re:Earth: Now With Flavor Crystals(tm)! (1)

Glytch (4881) | more than 13 years ago | (#436575)

Funny, all the posts criticizing this one are from ACs. I, for one, thought it was funny as hell.

DMT (1)

UnkyHerb (12862) | more than 13 years ago | (#436579)

Lemme know when ya find some DMT crystals that big.

Wow those are big (1)

Nobelium (16273) | more than 13 years ago | (#436581)

Now those are some big crystals. If anyone finds a URL with larger photos, I'd love one as a background for my computer.

In any case, I wan to sneak in there and take one home. Make it the center piece of my kitchen.

New Agers (1)

Scutter (18425) | more than 13 years ago | (#436582)

Ok, I have my giant crystals for my well-being, now if I could just find some giant pyramids to sharpen my razors, I'd be all set.

Karma is as karma does

Re:Weird stuff... (1)

Ralph Wiggam (22354) | more than 13 years ago | (#436583)

Are geodes special in Virgina or something? Here in Indiana, I found dozens when I was a kid. Some were almost as big as a basketball. I used a very scientific technique known as "digging in my back yard".

-B

Monster Crystals (1)

SEWilco (27983) | more than 13 years ago | (#436584)

Aren't you thinking of "The Monolith Monsters [stomptokyo.com] "?

Disturbing (1)

SEWilco (27983) | more than 13 years ago | (#436585)

I sense a great disturbance in the Force...

Inconsiderate bastards (1)

macdaddy (38372) | more than 13 years ago | (#436586)

Doesn't Superman have enough shit to deal with already? First his evilside knocked up that one chick in the hotel room and he got blamed for it. Then he lost the ability to walk while riding some damned horse (now called Alpo). Now they're jacking around in his Mexican condo. Give the guy a break already!

--

Nice --- (1)

HerrNewton (39310) | more than 13 years ago | (#436587)

Instead of digging them out, using the raw material and destorying such a wonder, they're actually going to make the place accessible to the public, including AC to handle the heat.

Score 1 for ecotourism, even if it's just some really huge crystals.

----

Re:Airconditioning (1)

p3d0 (42270) | more than 13 years ago | (#436588)

Perhaps I'm having vision problems, but I see no mention of humans in your definition.
--
Patrick Doyle

Re:Airconditioning (1)

p3d0 (42270) | more than 13 years ago | (#436589)

...if the crystals aren't viewed by tourists, they might as well be chopped up and sold.
True, if you believe that a thing only has value if it is useful to humans.
--
Patrick Doyle

Re:www.superlivingspace.com (1)

gold23 (44621) | more than 13 years ago | (#436590)

It's the Fortress of Solitude, for the record.

And no wonder. All that unrelieved whiteness. How about a throw pillow, Supes?

-- gold23

superman already discovered these (1)

mozkill (58658) | more than 13 years ago | (#436591)

if you saw Superman I (the movie), he already found crystals bigger than this one... :-)

Re:Airconditioning (1)

pubudu (67714) | more than 13 years ago | (#436593)

Closing the site to tourists to preserve the crystals (how fragile are they to evaporated sweat?) might make sense if there were something to ge gained by science types in studying them; of course, I can't imagine what kind of long-term research they would want to do.

Or they could just limit the number of people they allow to pass through there. It's not as if Naica, Mexico gets a ton of tourists as it is, and how many non-locals are going to drive a far ways in order to see them?

Re:Airconditioning (1)

Voltage_Gate (69001) | more than 13 years ago | (#436594)

Entropy. I'd write out the delta-G, H and temperature equations, but they slip my mind right now because I don't have class tomorrow so I'm drinking right now. Real quick: use energy to do work, or else fall apart, or something. Please don't ask me to write the next text book.

I named the Human leader Kojack.

More specifically... (1)

Len (89493) | more than 13 years ago | (#436597)

More specifically, it's true if you believe that a thing only has value if it is useful to large numbers of fat Americans wearing bermuda shorts.
--

Re:I would like mine.... (1)

zpengo (99887) | more than 13 years ago | (#436602)

huh?

Ironic Location (1)

Life Blood (100124) | more than 13 years ago | (#436603)

I find it just a bit ironic that the world's largest crystals are found in Chihuahua. I mean why not in "Great" Denmark.

Re:Kudos all around (1)

Ravagin (100668) | more than 13 years ago | (#436604)

Disclaimer: my tastes are my own.

On a side note, doesn't this look like the sort of thing you always see on cheezy movies abiout the deep underground? Not so chessy after all, it seems.
Books too. Wat comes to my mind is Robert Jordan's The Eye of the World... there's that scene at the Eye when they descend into the cave that is sort of a focus for saidin, only not really (I think Jordan hadn't quite stabilized his ideas on how the Power worked, then)... and it was full of glowing crystals.

Crystal caves: they're not just for cheesy movies and old apogee games any more!
Actually, I bet if you could somehow light the crystals in the cave, it would look really cool. It would, however, be a different beauty from the natural one of the cave. Although, ocme ot think of it, without some sort o light, it wouldn't look like anything.

-J

Theft problems (1)

11thangel (103409) | more than 13 years ago | (#436606)

The bigger the crystals, the bigger the thief problem. Hmm, does this "make the gigantic crystals" sound like a certain Rick Moranis movie to you? You know, the one that he almost destroyed vegas with when he made his kid gigantic instead of the crystals?

Re:www.superlivingspace.com (1)

Wiwi Jumbo (105640) | more than 13 years ago | (#436607)

Um... I think you mean Fortress of Solitude*...

*which is probably spelled different

Wiwi
"I trust in my abilities,

Re:Airconditioning (1)

hexx (108181) | more than 13 years ago | (#436608)

True, if you believe that a thing only has value if it is useful to humans.

value:
1 : a fair return or equivalent in goods, services, or money for something exchanged
2 : the monetary worth of something : marketable price
3 : relative worth, utility, or importance


Ummm so yeah, based on the definition, something only has value if it's useful to humans. When some turtles invent their own language with a similar word, I'll recant.

Go eat some sprouts hippie.

Re:Nice --- (1)

Master Bait (115103) | more than 13 years ago | (#436611)

There are plenty of 'serious' spelunkers who would want to take a crystal, or pee on one or run their hands all over the crystals.

Not all spelunkers are god's gift to caves. I'm hoping the cave owners will know enough to cordon off areas susceptable to human hand oils, and probably are smart enough to humidify the air in the cave. It's really not rocket science.


blessings,

Look, up in the sky... (1)

Ambush (120586) | more than 13 years ago | (#436612)

They've found Superman's hideout! And I thought it was up near the North Pole.

Re:Nice --- (1)

pyr0 (120990) | more than 13 years ago | (#436613)

I think air conditioning is a BAD idea. Minerals form because they are not soluble in the environment they form in, and they are only truly stable in that environment. You change the conditions and suddenly they're not stable anymore and begin to degrade. That goes for *anything*, diamonds included. Some are just harder to break down then others. If they truly want to preserve these wonderful crystals, I would keep the environment the way they found it.

heh - i did submit this (1)

el_guapo (123495) | more than 13 years ago | (#436615)

for a darwin award right after i posted it here...

Damn! (1)

SpanishInquisition (127269) | more than 13 years ago | (#436616)

It's going to be harder and harder to impress chicks with a geode these days.

"How big is YOUR crystal?"

dang thats hot.... (1)

x-empt (127761) | more than 13 years ago | (#436617)

At 150 degrees F, that temperature is extremely hot!
Since its so hot, I must wonder... how long can people survive at 150?

Cooling chambers that are naturally warm like that would require a LOT of energy. It doesn't make sense, money-wise, to attempt to cool them. I know I sure wouldnt want to pay $20 to see crystals in an airconditioned cave.... I want to see them at 150 degrees and in their natural environment!

I got those crystals beat... (1)

>:^D (135101) | more than 13 years ago | (#436618)

Heh heh heh. [hightimes.com]

>:^D

Supermans Hangout (1)

sphix42 (144155) | more than 13 years ago | (#436619)

I always thought it was at the North Pole...

Wonder of Nature (1)

Alomex (148003) | more than 13 years ago | (#436621)

Slashdot readers seem more interested in wonders of technology rather than wonders of nature.

The pictures from the website are amazing, but there is no way in which us slashdot geeks can take pride on that. Now, crashing aluminum foil on an asteroid is something any os could have worked on, thus its clear interest to this audience...

Darwin Award candidate? (1)

Knunov (158076) | more than 13 years ago | (#436623)

"One man was killed when he attempted to chop out a gigantic crystal that fell from the ceiling and crushed him..."


giggle.

The text... for those unable to get to the site.. (1)

heytal (173090) | more than 13 years ago | (#436625)

Huge Natural Crystals Found in Cave

By Michael Ray Taylor, Discovery News

Feb. 8, 2001 -- The largest natural crystals on Earth have been discovered in two caves within a silver and zinc mine near Naica, in Chihuahua, Mexico, according to mine officials. Reaching lengths of over 20 feet, the clear, faceted crystals are composed of selenite, a crystalline form of the mineral gypsum.

"Walking into either of these caves is like stepping into a gigantic geode," said Richard D. Fisher, an American consultant with the mining company to develop the discoveries as tourist attractions.

Fisher said that most people can endure only a few minutes in the caves due to their high temperatures. The smaller of the two, which is about the size of two-bedroom apartment, is 100 Fahrenheit. The large chamber, which Fisher describes as the size of a Cathedral, is 150 F. Both are located approximately 1200 feet below the surface.

Selenite in Action

The mining company plans to air-condition the caves before opening them to the public next year, Fisher said. He adds that reducing the heat gradually will not harm the crystals.

The largest previously known crystals were found in the nearby Cave of the Swords, part of the same mine system. Some of these are now on display at the Smithsonian Institution. The local government and mine owners hope to avoid removing any of the new discoveries for museum displays or private collections, Fisher said.

While the mine company is currently limiting visitation of the caves to scientific experts, mineral hunters have destroyed locks and broken into the chambers twice since they were first opened by mining equipment last April. One man was killed when he attempted to chop out a gigantic crystal that fell from the ceiling and crushed him, according to Fisher.

"We need more onsite protection of mine caves," said geologist Carol A. Hill, co-author of the book Cave Minerals of the World, who calls the new discoveries "by far the largest selenite crystals I have ever heard of."

Hill applauds the tourism plan. "Without it, the mining company would probably destroy the caves. Museums have enough crystals," she said. "It's important to preserve discoveries like this where they occur."

Fisher and mine officials will display photographs and small samples of crystals from the new cave at the Tuscon Gem & Mineral Show in Arizona -- which starts today and runs through the weekend -- where they plan to organize a scientific study of the caves to take place in March.

Wow.... (1)

heytal (173090) | more than 13 years ago | (#436626)

Does anyone have a mirror out there ??

Man Crushed himself? (1)

Kefabi (178403) | more than 13 years ago | (#436628)

Gotta read the article for this to make sense

What the hell was wrong with him. 20 foot crystals? And some dude wants to steal them. So he figures out some way to get past security, break the locks, sneak in unnoticed, and chisel the crystal away from all the rocks around it... but forgot to figure out how the HELL to take the thing back up to the surface? Man, he deserved to get crushed!!!!

-Kef

YEAH... (1)

osm (179439) | more than 13 years ago | (#436629)

just wait until i die and they look at my kidneys.

Is this were Superman Lives? (1)

Scer675 (179652) | more than 13 years ago | (#436630)

Well, It does faintly resemle the Fortress of Solitude.

Re:dang thats hot.... (1)

Scer675 (179652) | more than 13 years ago | (#436631)

Not me. Pump the AC, or I'll just wait till the interactive movie comes out so I can take a virtual tour of the cave in my own Temperature controlled apartment :)

Pegmatites are fabulous (1)

CactusCritter (182409) | more than 13 years ago | (#436633)

I believe the chambers are what are called pegmatites. I read of them years ago in a geology book and was utterly fascinated by the descriptions of gigantic crystals to be found in such chambers.

Although I can't remember the name of the book, I seem to recall that 80-foot crystals were mentioned. Makes me wonder if these selenite crystals are really the world's largest.

Re:Nice --- (1)

AaronStJ (182845) | more than 13 years ago | (#436634)

What I'm trying to say is that to express the idea of equal access, you need not reach for an analogy to source code - especially when the topic you are discussing has absolutely nothing to do with software.

Believe it or not, I completely agree with you here. Exessive free software analogies make me want to puke, and mine is completely unnesecary, and a very long stretch. But I needed an analogy to close my comment, and I really couldn't think of any other. I tried.

p.s.: I use Windows, not Linux.

Re:Flash required (1)

AaronStJ (182845) | more than 13 years ago | (#436635)

I just visited, and I do not believe flash is required.

A step in the right direction (1)

func (183330) | more than 13 years ago | (#436636)

This is cool! My dad, an engineer and spelunker, used to explore mines (note, do not try this at home!), and told me abut how he'd often find chambers full of huge gypsum crystals. Apparently the mining companies normally just mine the xtals for the minerals they contain - it's cool that there's a better way to make money from them!

Re:one word... (1)

NetGyver (201322) | more than 13 years ago | (#436637)

Honestly, is it me, or does that link not work?

Re:I would like mine.... (1)

marcop (205587) | more than 13 years ago | (#436639)

Actually, I would like to hand one off my rear-view mirror. But since that is impractical I guess I will just strap it to the roof of my car. Just imagine how many people will be blinded by the reflection off of this thing!

Re:Danger, Will Robinson! (1)

baldeep (213585) | more than 13 years ago | (#436640)

Didn't Darwin teach you anything? Viva la Evolucion! =)

Tiny Dogs and Huge Crystals (1)

centauri (217890) | more than 13 years ago | (#436645)

Chihuahua must be a crazy place to live.

I've been feeling quite blue since the crystals I grew
Became too big to fit through the door
But from slices I've sold, Hewlett-Packard, I'm told,
Made a chip that was seven-foot-four.

From "Home On Lagrange."

Darwin Award (1)

parp (222416) | more than 13 years ago | (#436647)

One man was killed when he attempted to chop out a gigantic crystal that fell from the ceiling and crushed him

I never thought of associating a soda machine, and crystal before. Crystal Pepsi anyone?

Generic, Stereotypical girl response: (1)

mdtrent3 (236695) | more than 13 years ago | (#436649)

Pretty!! :) I want one....

(though, i don't want to be crushed to death like a moron...so maybe i'll pass..) ;)

150 degrees (1)

Nick Driver (238034) | more than 13 years ago | (#436650)

Usually you think of underground caves as having cool temperatures. What makes these so hot? Geothermal heat close by? If that's the case, would you really want to have the general public visting down there on a regular basis, given that Mexico does have it's fair share of volcanos and earthquakes. I smell a bad Hollywood movie in the making here.

Re:Is this were Superman Lives? (1)

CirReal (238716) | more than 13 years ago | (#436652)

If you think this is interesting check out the old thriller movie 'Monolith Monsters'. From the '50s or '60s. Anyone remember it?

Re:Mesa Thinks.. (1)

netmeister (250862) | more than 13 years ago | (#436654)

Or Dr. Evil.

Mesa Thinks.. (1)

Brainboy (310252) | more than 13 years ago | (#436659)

. . . That the these crystals could be used for a giant "laser" Just hope the RIAA doesn't get its hands on it.
__________________

wonderment (1)

stigmatic (310472) | more than 13 years ago | (#436660)

Has anyone taken claim to own this monument? What about when microprocessors are made from the same elements and the supply is greatly diminished, will someone come out of the woodwork and lay a stake in it all...

DeBeers, Mexico is calling.

Anyways ... Seems like a pretty neat touristy place, let's just hope they do get that air conditioning the speak of in place or that chihuahua in the Taco Bell commercials will end up a hot dog in no time.

2000 [antioffline.com] hot sweaty blondes couldn't be wron9

Re:Earth: Now With Flavor Crystals(tm)! (1)

Schnedt McWhatever (313008) | more than 13 years ago | (#436661)

I did too. But lots of people on Slashdot treat moderation points as a 'reward' for some reason. It's really intended as a method of improving the content, not a win/lose situation for the people who make comments.

Re:Airconditioning (1)

Schnedt McWhatever (313008) | more than 13 years ago | (#436662)

You're pretty self-righteous, eh?

Why should this 'natural wonder' be forced to live up to your values?

Don't be so fucking 'cosmic', mon. It makes you look pretty pathetic.

Re:I appreciate your effort (1)

Schnedt McWhatever (313008) | more than 13 years ago | (#436663)

'Moderation points' aren't given to an account. They are given to a comment.

It's to improve the signal/noise ratio.

It's near time for Malda to just plain remove the accrual of 'mod points' in accounts. Let comments be moderated up on their merit alone. Take away the initiative for these children to 'collect points' like this is a meritocracy.

Re:Weird stuff... (1)

Schnedt McWhatever (313008) | more than 13 years ago | (#436664)

I have a 12" diamond saw in my garage for cutting open geodes.

Re:New Age Crystal flakes... (1)

Schnedt McWhatever (313008) | more than 13 years ago | (#436665)

Not a chance of that.

Most New Age flakes haven't ever been out of the city.

Re:I would like mine.... (1)

you, sir (313204) | more than 13 years ago | (#436667)

you, sir, are an incoherent misogynist.

Earth: Now With Flavor Crystals(tm)! (1)

jamesarcher (315424) | more than 13 years ago | (#436669)

Some possible uses for giant gypsum crystals:

  • Break them off and swordfight with them, like you would with icicles.
  • Use them as a cheap, plentiful substitute for dilithium crystals.
  • Make a big do-it-yourself radio.
  • Make really, really big new age stuff.
  • Get some naked people down there and reserve CrystalPorn.com, CrystalSex.com, and SexWithCrystals.com.
  • Open-source the crystals.
  • Criticize the crystals for patenting things.
  • Imagine Quake III would run on a Beowulf cluster of crystals.
  • etc., etc.,

Look out! (2)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#436670)

I've got a picture of Rick James smoking a piece of crystal meth twice the size of those things!

Re:Nice --- (2)

jafac (1449) | more than 13 years ago | (#436671)

it's not only possible, it's DEFINATELY true.

It's mostly the loss of moisture in the air, and the oils in the skins of people touching the rocks.

This is why the best caves are well-kept secrets by real spelunker orgs.

These caves will be "dead" in 20 years if they condition the air and bring tourists in.

Re:Hmm... (2)

jafac (1449) | more than 13 years ago | (#436672)

what I don't understand is, why this guy wasn't at least mentioned in the Darwin Awards. . .

Re:Is this were Superman Lives? (2)

jafac (1449) | more than 13 years ago | (#436673)

read the article. One guy already died down there (supposedly crushed when he tried to break off one of the crystals - I'm sure they covered-up the autopsy findings. . . _)

I appreciate your effort (2)

A nonymous Coward (7548) | more than 13 years ago | (#436675)

I couldn't read it either. If I had moderator points I'd give em to you.

--

Re:Nice --- (2)

FFFish (7567) | more than 13 years ago | (#436678)

"it may be more destructive than it sounds"

...and yet you continue to assist in the destruction of cave environments, by actively spelunking.

Pot. Kettle. Black.

--

Re:Weird stuff... (2)

grappler (14976) | more than 13 years ago | (#436680)

bwahahahahahaha

funniest thing I've read all day :-)

Re:Airconditioning (2)

grappler (14976) | more than 13 years ago | (#436681)

It's my understanding that air conditioning systems have the useful side effect of also dehumidifying. This is why on many cars, choosing the 'defog' setting to direct air toward your windshield will also turn the air conditioner on, so this doesn't sound like it would be a huge problem. Of course, you'd also want some kind of filter.

Re:Nice --- (2)

grappler (14976) | more than 13 years ago | (#436682)

I agree with most of what you say, but then there was this:

To me, this seems to paralell the ideals behind free software. Everyone is given equal acess to the finite software resiource (coders can only work so hard), and everyone can appreciate it, all in the sense of irony. And if a microsofty can be one over for Linux or BSD, everyone wins.

Now, I like free software as much as the next guy, but when the idea is stretched and diluted in such strange manners as this, it just makes me want to dig my fingers up into that space between my eyeballs and eyelids, reach way back there, grab some fistfuls of brain and yank it out as my eyeballs pop out to make way and then dangle by the optic nerves providing a dizzying view of the ground below.

Wow, sometimes it just feels good to rant. What I'm trying to say is that to express the idea of equal access, you need not reach for an analogy to source code - especially when the topic you are discussing has absolutely nothing to do with software.

Re:Earth: Now With Flavor Crystals(tm)! (2)

sharkey (16670) | more than 13 years ago | (#436683)

Like, wow, you could like power California, like with the vibes from these harmonies of nature, man.

--

Re:Flash required (2)

rw2 (17419) | more than 13 years ago | (#436684)

Not!

Just a better browser. My mozilla, though I can see the story in the source, doesn't display dick.

Right about now I wish /. had a delete dumbass comment feature. Oh well.

--

Hmm... (2)

tomcrooze (33802) | more than 13 years ago | (#436685)

"While the mine company is currently limiting visitation of the caves to scientific experts, mineral hunters have destroyed locks and broken into the chambers twice since they were first opened by mining equipment last April. One man was killed when he attempted to chop out a gigantic crystal that fell from the ceiling and crushed him, according to Fisher."

Don't people have any appreciation for what mother nature gives us? We all know the adage: "Don't fuck with mother nature!"

*cough*hurricanes*cough*tornadoes*cough*earthquake s*cough*

Re:Nice --- (2)

po_boy (69692) | more than 13 years ago | (#436687)

How can you be eco-friendly if you're using air conditioning?

maybe it's a swamp cooler.

All your events [openschedule.org] are belong to us.

Re:Nice --- (2)

Jbrecken (107271) | more than 13 years ago | (#436688)

Instead of digging them out, using the raw material and destorying such a wonder, they're actually going to make the place accessible to the public, including AC to handle the heat.

Score 1 for ecotourism, even if it's just some really huge crystals.


How can you be eco-friendly if you're using air conditioning?

Re:Wow those are big (2)

slashdoter (151641) | more than 13 years ago | (#436689)

OK there are two pics in the story I can't find a link to the larger versions( I know 0 Java) but here are the smaller ones One [akamaitech.net] and Two [akamaitech.net]


________

I can't help but laugh . . . (2)

White Shadow (178120) | more than 13 years ago | (#436690)

From the article:
One man was killed when he attempted to chop out a gigantic crystal that fell from the ceiling and crushed him, according to Fisher.
This should be entered into the Darwin Awards [darwinawards.com] .

Kudos all around (2)

AaronStJ (182845) | more than 13 years ago | (#436691)

I just read the story, and I'm impressed by the stance the mining company is taking. Instead of chopping up these huge crystals and selling them to collectors and museums, they're gradually cooling the 100-degree caves in order to show them off to the public.

A plan like this keeps natural wonders like this intact and let's us general public take a peek and what's going on inside our planet.

On a side note, doesn't this look like the sort of thing you always see on cheezy movies abiout the deep underground? Not so chessy after all, it seems.

Re:I'm shocked. (2)

SubtleNuance (184325) | more than 13 years ago | (#436692)

bunch of tofu munching tree huggers

Oh, save the whales! Beach the turtles! Oh, look! A sale on geodes and crystal pendants! I'll drive my Jeep Grand Cherokee

High School Debate Tactic #123.b:
If you are loosing the argument, call the oponent a 'hypocrite'. This will always discredit their opinions. This will have the added benefit of causing you to not alter your argument in any way.

As a special side note: Using this tactic to justify *YOUR* overconsumption will only fool other people - *YOU* know damn well what is right, your just to lazy, selfish and self-obsessed to admit it to yourself... its so much easier to insult another persons character then defend your own actions.

Danger, Will Robinson! (2)

sulli (195030) | more than 13 years ago | (#436695)

I hope they do a careful study of the stability of these crystals before letting people too close to them. Obviously the guy who was killed did something stupid, but it could happen again...

Re:Airconditioning (2)

micromoog (206608) | more than 13 years ago | (#436696)

So this isn't quite on-topic, but another interesting story involving caves and air conditioning:

This weekend, I visited Luray Caverns in Virginia, USA. Apparently, the first air conditioned home in the world was built here in 1901. The owner (a retired ventilation engineer) just drilled a hole into the cave, and pumped the cool, limestone-filtered air into his home via a five-foot-diameter shaft. Story here [luraycaverns.com] .

For the metric folk out here (2)

danox (232017) | more than 13 years ago | (#436697)

Just so you can get an idea of how hot it is down there: 100 degrees F = 38 degrees C (rounded) 150 degrees F = 66 degrees C (rounded) and 1200 feet = 366 m 66! ouch!

For metric folk, with formatting this time (sorry) (2)

danox (232017) | more than 13 years ago | (#436698)

Just so you can get an idea of how hot it is down there:

100 degrees F = 38 degrees C (rounded)
150 degrees F = 66 degrees C (rounded)
and 1200 feet = 366 m

66! ouch!

Re:Nice --- (2)

Patrick McRotch (314811) | more than 13 years ago | (#436700)

Funny you should mention that, because I was just thinking the same thing. Near Natural Bridge, Virginia there is a commercial cave that does just this. It's been a while since I've been there, but I think the name was Endless Caverns or something of the like. Anyway, they've discovered an extremely rare crystal that cannot exist in an oxygenated environment. (It was packed in mud before it was discovered) They managed to construct a glass enclosure that allows tourists to get an up-close view of the crystals while keeping the crystals themselves in near-vacuum suroundings. I'm sure a similar setup wouldn't be to hard to implement for other caves as well.

Re:Nice --- (2)

Patrick McRotch (314811) | more than 13 years ago | (#436701)

It sounds nice at first, but it may be more destructive than it sounds. I've been spelunking and studying geology as a hobby for several years now, and it is quite possible that the act of opening the caves to the public alone can destroy some crystals. These crystals probably spend the past few million years enclosed in the cave without the presence of light, human contact, or the cooler outside air. Sadly, this alone may be enough to erode or destroy the crystals. I cannot begin to tell you how depressing it is when you're exploring a cave, enjoying the beauty and solitude, only to find that previous explorations have broken pieces off of walls, spraypainted the interior, or left behind trash in their wake. Not only that, but certain types of crystals break down on a molecular level as selenite reacts with oxygen and light that is not generally found in it's natural growing environment. On the surface, it sounds as if the company is taking steps to preserve the crystals for all to see, but in fact they may be slowly destroying them.

Re:Airconditioning (3)

FFFish (7567) | more than 13 years ago | (#436702)

Why? Why would they need to shut down the cave?

It's not like the crystals, unseen and unharmed by the public, are doing anything remotely useful.

Other than generating "feel good vibes," preserving the crystals does no good whatsoever. And damaging the cave system isn't likely to be a big consideration, given that it's a *mining* company. Destroying rocks is what they do best.

I can appreciate, understand and give in to the sloppy sentimentality that's being displayed by so many Slashdotters -- but, on the other hand, I'm also pragmatic enough to admit that if the crystals aren't viewed by tourists, they might as well be chopped up and sold.

--

Flash required (3)

rw2 (17419) | more than 13 years ago | (#436703)

Is it just my crappy connection or do you need Flash to even read the story. First time I've seen that one. To bad, looked kind of cool.

--

I'm shocked. (3)

Raymond Luxury Yacht (112037) | more than 13 years ago | (#436704)

I'd expected some bunch of tofu munching tree huggers would mine the hell out of it.

Never stopped giving me a good wheeze. "Oh, save the whales! Beach the turtles! Oh, look! A sale on geodes and crystal pendants! I'll drive my Jeep Grand Cherokee that gets 10mpg the 100 miles to buy some!" Meanwhile there are thousands of slobs digging up huge portions of natural wilderness so they can sell these rocks for ten bucks a pop.

I'm in the wrong line of work...

At least these are being kept safe (for now). Those pictures looked very cool.

Weird stuff... (3)

ca1v1n (135902) | more than 13 years ago | (#436705)

When I was 6 I found a very light-weight rock on the playground of my brother's pre-school. It couldn't have been more than an inch in diameter. I kept it in my pocket, and the next day I was bouncing it on my desk at school, because it made a neat sound, almost as though it was hollow. One time I missed catching it after it bounced, and it dropped on the floor and cracked. I was disappointed, knowing that it would now not be in a shape conducive to bouncing, which I thought was just great at age 6. Then I looked, and saw what was inside. I had found a closed geode on a playground in Virgina, USA, and of all the rocks there, it was the one I happened to pick up. To this day I have no clue how it happened, but I know that it did.

www.superlivingspace.com (3)

SubtleNuance (184325) | more than 13 years ago | (#436706)

Did anyone else see the Superman Hall of Justice* when looking at those fotos?

*isnt that what its called...

Re:Airconditioning (3)

localroger (258128) | more than 13 years ago | (#436707)

The airconditioning must not only lower the temperature of the cave, but must also remove these metabolic wastes, particularly the water vapour.

Air conditioning tends to do this anyway. When the air is cooled moisture is removed, which is why air conditioners drip water.

Also, while selenite is not the most durable of minerals neither is it the most fragile in this sense. The much smaller selenites in my personal collection are unharmed after ~ 10 years despite being kept in open cabinets in New Orleans, LA which is not exactly a low-humidity environment.

In fact, the air conditioning would probably help to preserve the crystals, since the introduction of outside air cannot be undone. By making that outside air cooler and drier any damage to the crystals will be slowed.

I would like mine.... (4)

slashdoter (151641) | more than 13 years ago | (#436708)

I would like mine mounted on a 24k gold chain for a neckless to give the wife. Just sit there baby, talk about keeping her chained up......


________

Re:Nice --- (4)

the_other_one (178565) | more than 13 years ago | (#436709)

How about if they build glass tunnels through the caves and airconditioned only those while preserving the natural environment around the crystals. That would keep people from going of the trail and damaging crystals. It would prevent the new atmosphere from damaging the crystals. Also it would save a fortune on the air conditioning bill.

Re:Airconditioning (4)

SubtleNuance (184325) | more than 13 years ago | (#436710)

are doing anything remotely useful

Moderators: Do your worst.. ive got karma to burn.

You know FFFish - its people like you who are responsible for the mess this planet is in...

*JUST EXISTING* and knowing that the Crystals are there is 'enough use' for their preservation. HUMANS of every generation feel they have the right to take anything they please with no consideration to the planet or future generations. Why the fuck should this natural wonder be forced to live up to some asshole's expectation of 'something usefull'? Have you no sense of wonder???? These Crystals took millenia to form - through natural processes of the planet - their mere existance should cause humans to reflect on the planet and the natural wonder around us... instead close minded jackasses like yourself spew shit like "anything remotely usefull".

Give your head a shake pal- 'God' willing - when your long dead and forgotten these things will still be here, despite your arrogance and hubris.

Airconditioning (5)

B.D.Mills (18626) | more than 13 years ago | (#436711)

According to the article, the mining company will install airconditioning to make the caves more tolerable to tourists. One thing they must consider when choosing airconditioning is the effect of a steady stream of tourists through an enclosed space. Humans continuously give off a steady stream of water vapour, carbon dioxide and other metabolic wastes, and this may have an adverse effect on the stability of the crystals. The airconditioning must not only lower the temperature of the cave, but must also remove these metabolic wastes, particularly the water vapour.

There are ancient Egyptian sites that have been closed to tourists because the water vapour from the tourists was dissolving the relics, which had been preserved because of the dryness of the site.

I hope the mining company carefully monitors the effect of the airconditioning and tourists on the caves and crystals. They may need to shut down or limit the tourist access if tourism is having an adverse effect on the crystals or cave system.

--

Re:Nice --- (5)

AaronStJ (182845) | more than 13 years ago | (#436712)

It sounds nice at first, but it may be more destructive than it sounds. I've been spelunking and studying geology as a hobby for several years now, and it is quite possible that the act of opening the caves to the public alone can destroy some crystals.

What, then, would you have us do? Sure, we could preserve the caves indefinately by sealing them up forever. But then they would benifit no one.

As the article says, the choices, as far as the mining copmany sees it, is tourism and mining. Obviously mining the caves for the crystals in much more destructive than letting people take a look.

Even saying that we could avoid this dichotomy, what are the alternatives? Just let "seriosu" spelunker down there? That seems rather elitist to me. I'm not a seriopus spelunker, but I have a healthy respect for and awe of mother nature, and to be told that I can't go spreading around my water vapor, only "serious spelukners" just seems wrong to me. Shouldn't everyone be given equal access to the gaves, in anyone is giving access? Then everyone can enjoy them, and some regular guys might become interested in serious spelunking.

To me, this seems to paralell the ideals behind free software. Everyone is given equal acess to the finite software resiource (coders can only work so hard), and everyone can appreciate it, all in the sense of irony. And if a microsofty can be one over for Linux or BSD, everyone wins.
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