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Science

World's Largest Crystals 142

Posted by Hemos
from the pretty-darn-cool-looking dept.
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.
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World's Largest Crystals

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

    ::watches the moderators bury him in Offtopic::

  • 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.

  • 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.
  • I live in a country where the only rocks to be found are of the powdery dune forming variety. My ancestors had to build their pyramids from wood and mud, so we have not much to show for them. I'm still looking for wooden geodes.
  • Funny, all the posts criticizing this one are from ACs. I, for one, thought it was funny as hell.
  • OK. It's not carbon, but it's the closest you're going to get to his only SF story (yes, an SF story!) "The Diamond as Big as The Ritz".
  • Hey, when you've seen the size of my upthrusting crystal, you'll wonder why I don't exploit it as a tourist attraction!

    --
  • Are you calling FFFish a natural wonder?
  • by UnkyHerb (12862)
    Lemme know when ya find some DMT crystals that big.

  • :-)
  • 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.
  • 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
  • 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
  • Aren't you thinking of "The Monolith Monsters [stomptokyo.com]"?
  • I sense a great disturbance in the Force...
  • 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!

    --

  • 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.

    ----
  • Perhaps I'm having vision problems, but I see no mention of humans in your definition.
    --
    Patrick Doyle
  • ...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
  • It's the Fortress of Solitude, for the record.

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

    -- gold23
  • if you saw Superman I (the movie), he already found crystals bigger than this one... :-)
  • Awww, quit yer whining!
    100 degrees F is nothing! Heck, it's hotter than that for most of the day durung most of the summer here in the 6th largest city in the USA, Phoenix, AZ. (or is it 8th, I guess it depends on who you ask)

    One of my previous (way previous) jobs was as a ramp agent (those guys that wave those orange wands to direct the planes around, and mess up your luggage [most of the times, not at the same time]) at Sky Harbor International Airport. The official temperature for this one particular day was 118 defrees F. We took a thermometer out to the area we were working (underneath, and behind the airplains (mostly 727, 737 and MD80/88 models, so little jets) and the ambient air was over 150 degrees F. The higher air temp was due to the large blacktop surface, and the fact that jet engines happen to put out a lot of heat.

    It was toasty, but did we complain? Heck yea we did! I mean that's freakin hot!!!

    OT: Not long after I left that job, Phoenix hit a record official temp of 122 F. They had to close the airport for several hours because the charts that Boeing and Co. put out for safe distances for takeoff and landing did not go that high. After a couple of million of lost revinue later, the charts were updated.

    -Joe

  • 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?

  • 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.

  • Every cave and coal mine I've been in have been quite cool year-round. The article doesn't mention why these caves are between 100 and 150 degrees Farenheit 1200 feet below the surface -- anyone care to enlighten me? I'm guessing it's not from nearby magma or crystal vibrations...
  • I just looked up some stuff at Scientific American, and found that temperature in continental crust increases at about 25&degC per kilometer of depth. 1200 ft is not all that deep: 365m, or less than a quarter-mile, and temperature near the surface is generally steady in the teens, so I don't think it's mainly geothermic unless they're near a fault line or volcano, in which case they probably wouldn't be mining there at all. 65.5&degC (150&degF) is roughly three times hotter than it "should" be due to depth, but I can't seem to find a range of temperature/depth scales for different crust thicknesses, just that one figure from SciAm.
  • 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.
    --
  • Chow some valium, pal. It'll do you a world of good.

    If you can find contentment and fulfilment just 'knowing' that FFFish is there, then he don't actually have to be there: it's a Schrodinger's Cat situation.

    Myself, I'll need to see 'im to believe 'im. I'd prefer to see him in his natural setting, and I'd very much prefer that setting to last millenia and enthrall millions of people.

    If he's shut off from view, well, then, he might as well be destroyed. If I have to look at old pictures or otherwise imagine that I'm seeing him, then I can just as well imagine something even more grand. The existance or non-existance of the marvel becomes immaterial, if no one's allowed to see him.

    - Steeltoe
  • On what do you base your assumption that we are sapient beings, and the only one at that?

    Personally I think you got it wrong. _I_ am the only sapient being in the universe. You're just a figment of my imagination not worth a second thought.

    - Steeltoe
  • Just because you don't know why it's there, doesn't mean it doesn't have a purpose. Just because it doesn't have a purpose doesn't mean it shouldn't exist.

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

  • 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
  • Ah, yes. I'm not sure I saw that at first, though I can see it now. Hmmm. That was a couple months ago for me, after all.
    Still, I think some of his ideas were still solidifying at that point. For instance, the whole Traveling thing... the way in which Lews Therin and Ishamael travel in the prologue of Eye is pretty different from the method used later inthe series... of course, there could be different ways of traveling, I suppose, but the Forsaken do it too.

    Wow. How's that for offtopic? ;)

    -J
  • 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?
  • Um... I think you mean Fortress of Solitude*...

    *which is probably spelled different

    Wiwi
    "I trust in my abilities,
  • 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.
  • The spelunkers are the ones we have to worry about. Cavers follow the old rule, "take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints." I'm surprised that so many people still confuse cavers with spelunkers; "spelunker" is a derogatory term.
  • ... Birkenstocks [birkenstock.com] in a twist. I was KIDDING.

    Function: verb
    Inflected Form(s): kidded; kidding
    Etymology: probably from 1kid
    Date: 1902
    transitive senses
    1 : to deceive as a joke wouldn't kid you> 2 : to make fun of
    intransitive senses : to engage in good-humored
    fooling or horseplay -- often used with around
    - kidder noun
    - kiddingly /'ki-di[ng]-lE/ adverb


    And yes, I am only a few steps to the right of Atilla the Hun, but at least I revel in the fact that the Right are decidedly not that, and accept that hypocrisy is a fact, not an insult. Left wing individuals begin foaming at the mouth the moment you question any of their ethics.


  • 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,

  • They've found Superman's hideout! And I thought it was up near the North Pole.
  • 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.
  • I am mining a cave to the center of the earth. After I install the air conditioners I am going to open an amusement park in the core. Cooling the core down slowly should not harm anything. -gerbik
  • for a darwin award right after i posted it here...
  • It's going to be harder and harder to impress chicks with a geode these days.

    "How big is YOUR crystal?"
  • 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!
  • Heh heh heh. [hightimes.com]

    >:^D
  • I always thought it was at the North Pole...
  • So that's where Superman's polar home ended up when it crashed into the ocean.
  • 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...

  • Amen Bruddah

    'nuff said

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


    giggle.

  • WTF are you talking about? There are larger crystals than this all over the place. They just haven't been found. They are safely residing in the (not to antropomorphize) bowels of the earth. And that's just fine by me. Why don't you go off and appreciate THEM?

    And yes, the idea that, absent humans to appreciate it, this whole ball of dirt could be as barren as the Moon, is perfectly valid. Who would give a shit? 'Gaia'? Frankly, I like that concept more than the unexamined and undefended meme that "Nature" is somehow superior if "uncontaminated" by human presence. Check and defend your own damn assumptions, jerk.

    PS)You are guilty of using your own homocentric viewpoint when you refer to "...the mess this planet is in." In a million years, I bet it will be hard for "this planet" to remember we were here.

    PPS) huh...huh-huh...he said 'homo'.

  • 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.

  • Does anyone have a mirror out there ??

  • These are big, but not even close to the largest crystals ever found. Charles Panache (American Mineralogist, v. 17, p. 362, 1932) compiled some then-largest known crystals, including a spodumene 42 feet long. More recent articles have extended the maximum size.

    By the way, someone mentioned pegmatites; it would be very unlikely to get selenite crystals in a pegmatite.

    -Dave Hirsch, UT Austin, Ph.D. Geology

  • by Anonymous Coward
    I've got a picture of Rick James smoking a piece of crystal meth twice the size of those things!
  • 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.
  • by jafac (1449)
    what I don't understand is, why this guy wasn't at least mentioned in the Darwin Awards. . .
  • 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. . . _)
  • (kinda weird)

    As a kid I bought two geodes from the gift shop of the Kirkpatrick Center/Omniplex in Oklahoma City. Kinda cool to a kid, I liked one best since it had a neater crystal in the middle.

    Fast forward a couple of years and one of my teachers had a magnet made from hot gluing a geode to a magnetic disk. The funny thing was it was the other half to one of the geodes I had bought (the one I didn't like as much)!

    Not proud of it but I stole it from her at the end of the year. (Sorry Mrs. Christie!)
  • I couldn't read it either. If I had moderator points I'd give em to you.

    --
  • Please refer to [this post] [slashdot.org], who's author understood what I'm saying.

    So we do what you say: document and study it, record it to pictures and video, and then seal the cave from all humanity.

    Once sealed, *their existence is immaterial*. The crystals could vaporize, and no one would be the wiser; or they could treble in size, and no one would know. No living thing would benefit from their existence... nor would any living thing be harmed by their loss.

    In effect, they become an artifact of history and their present-day existence would be mere supposition and imagination.

    That's infinitely more wasteful of their existence than opening up the caves to throngs of tourists.

    If you really need to get tweaked about something, then please get tweaked about something that counts. There are plenty of things happening in the Brazilian rainforests that are having deep and lasting negative impact on living plants and creatures.

    For starters, you can get uppity about the destruction caused by the rock hounds who are supplying all the new age shops with their "harmonious" crystals. Most of those crystals are obtained through extremely destructive practices. Yet not a single crystal-worshipping purchasers cares to acknowledge that they're supporting the destruction of rainforests. Hypocrites.

    --
  • Chow some valium, pal. It'll do you a world of good.

    If you can find contentment and fulfilment just 'knowing' that the rocks are there, then they don't actually have to be there: it's a Schrodinger's Cat situation.

    Myself, I'll need to see 'em to believe 'em. I'd prefer to see them in their natural setting, and I'd very much prefer that setting to last millenia and enthrall millions of people.

    If they're shut off from view, well, then, they might as well be destroyed. If I have to look at old pictures or otherwise imagine that I'm seeing them, then I can just as well imagine something even more grand. The existance or non-existance of the marvel becomes immaterial, if no one's allowed to see it.

    --
  • "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.

    --
  • So fucking what if giant crystals don't 'do anything remotely useful'?
    It's not like you do, either, sitting on your pale white ass and posting to slashdot.

    Just because it exists does not mean it has to be exploited.

    --K
    Fucking monkeys.
  • bwahahahahahaha

    funniest thing I've read all day :-)
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Like, wow, you could like power California, like with the vibes from these harmonies of nature, man.

    --
  • 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.

    --

  • "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*

  • This is funny. Why mod it down?

    --

  • 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.

  • 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?

  • 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]


    ________

  • 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].
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Who said anything about being 'cosmic', mon?

    My simple point is that choosing the 'destiny' of a cave full of million year old crystals of that size (massive natural beuty) requires a massive amount of ego.. I cant understand what people like FFFish, maybe you, and mining companies think that because they 'discovered' this cave - they get to decide its future. That future is immediate and everlasting, and based on the rarity and intrinsic value in such a site, it should be left alone. Alone as in: Document and study, pictures and video, websites and books. Anything else is exploitation.

    Even 'tourism' would be over use in my opinion... but all things considered would not be that great a tragedy if done properly (the site is maintained as the 'number one priority').

  • Exactly why does the choice of someone else to have kids constitute an obligation on my part to those kids' unborn grandchildren?

    If I understand you correctly, you feel that you have no obligation to future people (you infer excepting your own children). You are obligated because you are a member of a community. You are obligated because previous generations thought about providing for you.
    I've heard a 'proverb', accredited to the First Nations people: "You do not inherit the planet from your father - you borrow it from your sons."
    If you'd like to - you can live your life in pursuit of satisfying your every need, without a care for anyone or anything else... no one will stop you. What a horrible, lonely, shallow existance it will be.

    Wow - do you trip over your selfishness when you walk?

  • 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...
  • 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].

  • 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!
  • 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!

  • Anything only has value in relation to sapient beings, as sapient beings are the only thing in the universe that can value anything.

    Now that that's cleared up, you guys can debate what disposition of the crystals is of most value to the only known sapient beings in the universe, humans.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • by FFFish (7567) on Monday February 12, 2001 @03:36PM (#436702) Homepage
    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.

    --
  • by rw2 (17419) on Monday February 12, 2001 @02:51PM (#436703) Homepage
    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.

    --

  • by Raymond Luxury Yacht (112037) on Monday February 12, 2001 @02:58PM (#436704) Homepage
    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.
  • by ca1v1n (135902) <.moc.cinortonaug. .ta. .koons.> on Monday February 12, 2001 @03:08PM (#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.
  • by SubtleNuance (184325) on Monday February 12, 2001 @05:43PM (#436706) Journal
    Did anyone else see the Superman Hall of Justice* when looking at those fotos?

    *isnt that what its called...

  • by localroger (258128) on Monday February 12, 2001 @03:57PM (#436707) Homepage
    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.

  • by slashdoter (151641) on Monday February 12, 2001 @02:49PM (#436708) Homepage
    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......


    ________

  • by the_other_one (178565) on Monday February 12, 2001 @03:50PM (#436709) Homepage

    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.

  • by SubtleNuance (184325) on Monday February 12, 2001 @05:53PM (#436710) Journal
    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.

  • by B.D.Mills (18626) on Monday February 12, 2001 @02:57PM (#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.

    --
  • by AaronStJ (182845) <AaronStJ&gmail,com> on Monday February 12, 2001 @03:29PM (#436712) Homepage
    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.

I cannot conceive that anybody will require multiplications at the rate of 40,000 or even 4,000 per hour ... -- F. H. Wales (1936)

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