Curious Friends, Today we will talk about a very strange world within our world. I dont know if Science Fiction writers know about this but if they did they could write hundreds of stories about it.
About 15 million years ago the poles of the earth started freezing. Antartica was formed. Before the freezing there was a lake in Antartica. When freezing took place ice formed over the lake. So this lake was covered with a sheet of ice about 3.5 kilometres thick. Now the lake itself did not freeze. It was just cut off from the atmosphere by a 3.5 kilometres think ice sheet.
This lake exists today. And it has water which was cut off from the rest of the earth 15 million years ago!!!!! It was discovered in 1977 near the Russian Antartic station Vostok. So this was named Lake Vostok. It is very large : 14000 sq Kms and is deep ( about 500 metres).
There is no way to reach this lake. It is deep(3.5 Kms) below ice. So the only way is to drill that deep. Once the Russians decided to drill and get water samples from there. But about 400 feet from the lake they stopped. They realized that any drill would contaminate the lake which has remained “untouched” for 15 million years.
This lake would tell us a lot about the kind of conditions that existed on earth 15 million years. Maybe fish from 15 million years ago is still preserved there. Also who knows, this lake may still have life that has completely gone off in a different direction than the rest of the life on earth. You would ask? But how is life possible without sunlight. It is possible. Life exists in Marina Trench( See VERITAS: The Limits of Ocean Depth 4 Jun 2003. I am appending it for your convenience) which is 11 kilometres deep and has NO sunlight. Life in such places exists near hydrothermal vents( where the hot gases from earth’s core come out). So life can exist in places without sunlight by using the heat from the earth’s core. Who knows, maybe there are hydrothermal vents in Lake Vostok.
Also we have seen( VERITAS:Europa 17 Jul 2003 [availabe to new people on request] ) that Jupiter’s moon Europa has something similar. It has thick ice covering oceans of water. Maybe life in these Oceans on Europa has a resemblance to the life in lake Vostok.
The biggest problems before Scientists is to get some samples of water from lake Vostok without contaminating it. They are experimenting with different devices to do this. Till that happens, we can only imagine what lies beneath that icy wall.
Death was in that poisonous wave,
And in its gulf a fitting grave
For him who thence could solace bring
To his lone imagining-
Whose solitary soul could make
An Eden of that dim lake.
( Poe – The lake)
Go, wondrous creature! mount where Science guides:
Go, measure earth, weigh air, and state the tides:
Instruct the planets in what orbs to run,
Correct old time and regulate the Sun;