Discovery Rocks Science

Archaeological Dig in Siberia Reveals Mystery

by Viktor Dobachevski
The Associated Press
CASGROVINA - East Siberia, May 12 -

Near the rocky coast of the Sea of Okhotsk, backed by the Kolyma Range, situated on Nagayevo Bay, fifty-eight degrees north latitude, 150 kilometers west of the port city and regional capital of Magadan, the sleepy fishing town of Casgrovina has awakened to international attention due to an accidental discovery unearthed at a construction site on the northwestern outskirts of town.

A construction crew clearing rocks and generally preparing the ground for an industrial park, ran into trouble at the start of April when one of its oversized pieces of digging equipment suddenly hit something beneath the permafrost that stopped it cold. It wasn't a massive rock, at first thought, but rather, after further, more precise digging, over an area approximately 500 or so feet in a rough diagonal, with the assistance of rocket-engine sized blast heaters to melt the permafrost, an expansive network of enormous, spherically-shaped objects was exposed.

What they uncovered were nine spheres arranged in a circle, equally spaced and connected to one another by enclosed, cylindrically-shaped conduits about 20 feet in diameter. Each sphere is approximately 100 feet in diameter and connected to the center sphere, itself shaped like an ellipsoid, by a conduit of the same size as that which connects them to one another, only twice as long and not curved -- do the math. The overall look is of a giant Leggo piece, or a gear from a planet-sized machine.

The person in charge of the project, Vladimer Petrokoff, immediately contacted the mayor of Casgrovina who in turn contacted the Russian Ministry of the Interior. Within hours the Ministry sent a representative to inspect the site. He reported his findings by phone and, through his insistence, the Ministry informed the Russian Academy of Sciences. They, in turn, assembled and sent a preliminary team consisting of an archaeologist, a physicist, a meteorologist, two geologists, a paleontologist, and two engineers. All this happened under tight secrecy within days of the fantastic discovery.

The team of experts arrived on site the following week. That was five weeks ago. Finally, a press conference was being held in the Casgrovina Community Center to announce and discuss their results so far. It was a crowded and excited scene; drawings on a large blackboard brought in for the occasion drew everyone's attention. The main figure was the design of the network itself; it looked like the schematic for a ferris wheel; on each side of it were other drawings of a more cryptic nature. The head of the team, Doctor Alexi Tolstoy, Chairman of the Archaeology Department at the University of Moscow, stood at the podium situated on a dais; behind him at floor level, seated at a long table were the other members. Doctor Tolstoy explained what they had discovered and had been able to deduce thus far.

The network of spheres was several feet below the surface of the permafrost. They believe it once was above ground and had been covered over by the natural movement of rock over geologic time. This assertion brought the immediate question from the New York Times reporter: "How ancient is it?" After a long and strangely nervous pause, Doctor Tolstoy began a roundabout answer, "I would first like to introduce some of the team members: Doctors Minscheko and Petrof, our two distinguished geologists; Doctor Weingard, Nobel Laureate in Physics, now teaching at Leningrad University; and Doctor Golgachev, a renown paleohistorian, some of you may be familiar with his work in reconstructing the lifestyles of ice-age peoples.

He turned briefly for whispered comments from a few of the team, then back to continue, "Doctor Weingard, in consort with our two geologists, performed what are called argon-40/argon-39 dating measurements on volcanic scrapings, zircons, from the surfaces of several of the spheres and the immediate surroundings. These tests were corroborated by a uranium series. As you may be aware," he looked quickly around the room over the top of his glasses, "there was a time when the geographic area on which we now stand was located near the equator under a shallow sea. Consequently, carbonate materials formed in the soils, a prime candidate for U-series testing. These techniques differ from the more familiar carbon-dating techniques which are only good for a range of about 60,000 years."

Whispers rumbled through the group of journalists -- the area where we now stand was once at the equator? The tectonic savvy knew a bomb was about to drop.

Deliberately ignoring this reaction, and concerned he may have prematurely tipped his hand, he quickly continued: "Now, this material contrasted with the surrounding rock, itself mostly the result of lava flows over millions of years. When this edifice, or whatever it is, this network of spheres, first appeared at its present location, it became encased in a crust of hardened magma. From then on it somehow managed to ride the waves, so to speak, of each subsequent flow, including, apparently, the continent-sized Siberian lava outpouring that is presumed largely responsible for the Permian-Triassic extinction of 252 million years ago, and yet retain the mineral material with which it originally made contact, under what must certainly have been considerable heat and pressure. The results are astounding; so astounding that we felt compelled to redo the measurements on many different samples using more than one element as the base."

He searched the faces in the room; chin pushed up; a little perspiration showing on his brow. He couldn't stall anymore, so he forged ahead against an unseen wave, "Our conclusion, thus," he hurried, "is that the system of spheres, the edifice as we've been calling it, is 600 million years old."

Doctor Tolstoy bowed his head, anticipating, no doubt, cries of disbelief. Instead what he received was stunned silence, you could hear a pin drop, as the Americans say. After regaining some semblance of composure, one incredulous-sounding word was heard from somewhere in the middle of the crowd of reporters: "What!" And then from somewhere else, "How could something so obviously sophisticated be that old; there were no humans then?" An avalanche of other related questions followed simultaneously, making them unintelligible.

Motioning for calm and quiet, Doctor Tolstoy took a deep breath, then went on: "We have reasons to believe that the sphere-network was not constructed on Earth. Obviously, at that time, six hundred million years ago, as has been pointed out, there were no beings or civilization capable of building such a structure. We've examined a few of the spheres. Using magnetic and sound imaging, their surfaces prove to be seamless and continuously uniform and homogeneous, and, only one centimeter thick, difficult as they may be to believe; the nature of the material allowed for the precise determination of its thickness. Indeed, metallurgical scans have revealed that the lattice structure, or matrix, of atoms composing the material are in perfect order, minute degradation understood as possibly the result of weathering and frequency disturbances of the chemical kind. This phenomenon may be more familiar to you by way of superconductor material, metals, alloys, and ceramics, under supercold conditions, close to zero thermodynamic activity. But, to have it occur and remain uniformly consistent under the extremes of heat, pressure, and shocks, over, at the very least, 600 million years, is, quite frankly, beyond our present science to explain.

"As it happens, in spite of the sheer hardness of their veneers, the spheres themselves have not proven to be impregnable, owing to this atomic orderliness. Choosing the easiest accessible, using high-powered lasers, we were able to cut a hole large enough to enter. Not being able to read the internal atmospheric composition beforehand, the possibility of an explosion was anticipated once the laser had passed through. Accordingly, we prepared and took a chance, one must do that in science from time to time. Fortunately, there were no violent reactions of any kind upon cutting through, and the gases released were captured and are presently being studied at the laboratory we've assembled on site. Samples have also been sent to the University of Moscow; we await their conclusions. I can say, however, from preliminary assessment, that they are of unknown origin; that is, you will not find them on the familiar periodic table of the elements."

Continued silence followed that comment. Like children aware of being in the presence of the incomprehensible, we just sat back. One voice spoke for everyone: "What did you find, Doctor?"

Doctor Weingard, the physicist, who had already been on his way, spread a few sheets of paper on the shelf of the podium and began.

"We have, in fact, gained entrance to four of the spheres. Each contained a different combination of gases, none of which have we ever seen before. That is, they are not part of nor have they been produced by our planet." A fluttering of paper, then silence; we were children again, rapt listeners, waiting. Weingard continued, "Wearing protective suits, we entered the first. Our lights revealed a catacomb of smooth transparent slices of what, we don't know, a polymer perhaps, or a translucent metal, angling in all directions, floors and walls, if you will. The main floor, the one we were able to walk on, was aligned along a central axis, colinear with the conduit connecting the sphere to the center one. Off to each side were the room-like structures of varying sizes, the walls made of the same unknown material. For practical reasons, we have not as yet been able to investigate these rooms, only those parallel to the plane of the overall structure. That's another curiosity -- it's almost perfectly aligned with the gravitational field, after all that's happened geologically in the past 600 million years."

Doctor Weingard walked back to the table for a drink of water, agitatedly whispered a few things to the others, then returned to the podium. "At the far end of the sphere, covering the entire curve as far as we could see, is a huge design composed of thousands, perhaps millions, of different colored shimmerings interconnected in multiple ways. 'Shimmerings' is the best I can think of to describe them; they're not lights in the conventional sense, but they possess luminosity and color. Now, because we vented these four spheres before entering, we don't know, as yet, precisely what the design, considered as the way each point connects with others, would, or should, look like. For it to represent itself true, as was originally intended, each point must remain proportional to its original frequency, that is, the colors have to vary amongst themselves in the same way. And given the quantum nature of light -- electromagnetism -- only certain wavelengths are allowed, and not others -- it is not a continuum. Also, it's possible to induce shifts in phase, either globally or locally, that will generate a completely different design.

"And there are more subtle problems: Considering alien eyesight, whatever that may be, would the three-cycle of 'atmosphere -- design lights -- eyesight' play a crucial role in determining what meaning the designs may hold? So we may have lost valuable information, overcome by the excitement of the enormity and significance of this discovery, but strict scientific protocol will be maintained in the future. In order to avoid further mistakes of this kind, we need to adopt a forensic approach to the site; see in terms of 'evidence' and not so much - 'discovery-for-its-own-sake.' And so, presently we are working on methods to enter the other spheres without first venting the gases, if any, and we have no reason to suspect that there aren't."

The room's quiet deepened, no one was scribbling notes or shuffling about. Pointing to a drawing on the blackboard, he went on, "Six feet in front of the design, and rising to nine feet above the floor, is a long, flat, table-like slab, having the same curvature as the sphere, eighteen feet in arc-length by three feet wide, but only one centimeter thick throughout, made of the same unknown wall and floor material, supported by a single, slender, liquid-like column or rod. Its surface is completely smooth and uniform; the same kind of atomic orderliness is evident in this material, although the class of arrangement is geometrically anti-symmetric to that of the surface material. We wait to confirm if this is the case with other surfaces of the interior, and what, of course, that may mean. Also, we could find no appearance of mechanical, electrical, or magnetic components of any kind with which we are familiar.

"The other three spheres were similar except for the design on the inner wall and, of course, as stated earlier, the atmospheres varied." With that he turned to confer in earnest with his colleagues. With Weingard alongside, Doctor Tolstoy stood and approached the podium; he spoke matter-of-factly, "Scientists from around the world will be arriving in Casgrovina after today, we all know that. So, we might as well tell you what else we found and have been able to piece together, evidence and speculation. From within these four we are able to see into the center one, and, it's very different indeed. Doctor Weingard, would you like to explain?"

Weingard indicated another of the drawings on the board and elaborated, "Now, arranged around the inner surface of this center sphere -- actually slightly ellipsoidal -- and jutting out into it, are nine separate, hemispherically-shaped enclosures or balconies, all on the same plane as the structure. At the center, fifty feet in diameter, is a spherically shaped hollow, visible from the enclosures through translucent, unknown material. And at the center of this hollow, approximately twenty to twenty-five feet in diameter, is another sphere suspended in what appears to be a vacuum. The balconies connect through their respective conduits to the spheres we have examined thus far, and, because of this connectedness, each contains the same gaseous assemblage or atmosphere as those respective spheres.

"As far as the atmospheres are concerned, as was stated before, we don't yet know of what elements they are composed or how, precisely, these elements arrange themselves. It may very well be that the complex and varying internal geometry of each sphere -- its ecological morphology -- has a definite affect on the structure of its respective atmosphere, if we can call the conglomerations 'atmospheres,' which in turn, as was mentioned before, may very well affect the color frequencies of the designs, some kind of feedback relationship, it would seem."

"Sir," asked a journalist in the front row, "how is this smaller sphere able to remain suspended?"

Weingard turned a little pale, gathered himself, and replied, "We don't know, plain and simple. We can see no force of any kind responsible for its ability to do what it's doing."

Tolstoy and Weingard turned their backs on the silent crowd and spoke quietly to one another, gesturing pictures in the air. A man entered from the side of the low stage and approached the two on the dais. They shook hands, spoke softly, then Tolstoy turned to the crowd of silent journalists and said, "I would like to introduce Doctor Horace Noble from Stanford University. He, as you may know, chairs the Mathematics Department and has written extensively on fractal geometry and information theory." This brought a few self-conscious guffaws. Science writers generally stay away from mathematics, as a rule; not as sexy as cosmology, black holes or relativity paradoxes. "Perhaps not. None the less, he has some things to say about the edifice's designs."

Doctory Tolstoy relinguished the podium to Doctor Noble. Short and stout with thinning hair, looking more like a bartender than a mathematician, he nonetheless spoke with focus and clarity, "I have only spent three weeks examining the designs in each of the four spheres. The patterns on the central sphere hovering in the hollow are far more complex and, seemingly, of a different character than the four we have yet examined. For one thing, the lights are white, as you would expect. Yes, this smaller sphere is mapped with myriad interconnecting patterns; what they may mean and how they relate to the designs of the separate outlying spheres has to await further study; when, I can't say at this time."

He turned his head to speak briefly with Doctor Tolstoy, who nodded back, then, visibly ratchetting-up his intelligence, he spoke, "My work in fractal geometry has not been in developing the geometry per se, but rather determining and classifying fractal patterns across parallel idea-fields." More guffaws. "Could you break it down for us fractal-challenged, Doctor Noble?" a voice asked for all. Resting his forearms on the shelf, Noble leaned forward and said, "O.K., now, interrelationships in the arrangement of a group of stars can form a constellation, we name these: Orion's belt, the Bear, the Big Dipper, and so forth. We have a schematic of the picture in our head and by applying this to the heavens we are able to pick out the grouping of stars that it maps to, if we know what to look for, a big if, and where, its frame of reference. The picture in our head has to be based on knowing what to look for, otherwise we have little chance.

"Practical interpretations of symbol systems, the patterns the networks of lights form, without a Rosetta Stone, present a formidable challenge to the imagination. These designs could very well be representations of abstract concepts, a library, a language based on a system of thinking on an order of magnitude beyond our ability to even characterize, let alone, unravel. The interconnections and relationships are of a countably infinite number and degree of nonlinear complexity.

"Therefore, applying what's known may not be sufficient, in fact, probably isn't. Accordingly, we have to resist imposing or overlaying known patterns in order to see clearly what's there, what these designs may be about; no predispositions, in other words. From a mathematical perspective, we have to suspend any and all coordinate systems or frames of reference. Could they be maps of the stars; do they represent fields of study, a collective knowledge, using network patterns very unlike our use of numbers, alphabets, and pictures; are they some kind of engineering schematic for an organic machine that operates without moving parts? We don't know yet, I don't know yet, but, embedded in the larger designs I have been able to see some parallel similarites across scales, components possibly, modules, I don't know. Further study is required; we have only scratched the surface of understanding."

For a moment it seemed his eyes pinwheeled, but perhaps it was the poor lighting. He continued, "After we've examined the other five spheres we'll be able to make more informed comparisons. But I can say this much, in my work I've learned to follow my instincts and intuition, to try out hypotheses, as it were. Because of the connecting tunnels between the inner sphere and the others, I have a sense that all nine separate designs must work in consort somehow. For instance, if we were to layer them in all possible permutations, what would we see? This would be a job for the supercomputer at Stanford. Or, do they hook together in some predesigned sequence or juxtaposed fashion? There are many other possible arrangements, of course, they could be tesselated in some way.

"And then we're back to the problem of perception: how many different ways can the same set of parts be perceived, depending on the frame of reference? For example, a recipe, a set of ingredients, has practical significance only when integrated to the proper proportions and in the proper order; considering each ingredient on its own would therefore not be very insightful. A ladle is a ladle, whether it's in a pot of soup or the northern night sky. We grope in the dark, but we have some tools. These are some of the problems we face.

"I have requested the mathematical societies from around the world to submit to their members a request for assistance; I anticipate no shortage of qualified volunteers. We will also have use of any and all extra computer power from MIT, Harvard, Cambridge, CERN, and other university and government faciities, including NASA and the European and Russian space agencies. And this is just the beginning."

Retrieving a folded sheet of paper from his inside coat pocket, he handed it to Doctor Weingard; then, with a quick nod to Tolstoy and the other team members at the table, stepped off the dais and walked quickly off-stage and out the side door. No one had a chance to ask a question, even if we had known what to ask.

Immediately afterwards, two men dressed in dirty orange coverals strode from the other end of the stage toward the group of seated scientists. Doctors Tolstoy and Weingard approached to listen to their excited talk. Eyes lit up, jaws dropped, smiles of wonder appeared on their faces. Tolstoy approached the podium and declared an end to the press conference. Then, following the two techies, he, Weingard and the rest of the team left in a hurry.

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