I am not a claustrofobic person, but this is... damn... this feels suicidal. Makes you realize that some people are wired way differently than others.
Edit - https://imgur.com/EHrwHs3.jpg
(Curiously, Google search for "James Talbot Blind Descent" points to this very Hacker News thread.)
The usual estimation is that 5% of the population is insane, and I guess they do fill a purpose :)
I see it as meaning that you can honestly get used to anything, given enough time. It's inspiring really, when I'm at my worst and darkest times, to think - hey, if someone can deal with being tortured for years and get through it, I can make it through this.
I understand what you're saying, but being tortured for years leaves physiological and psychological scars that never go away.
William Sampson, A Canadian who was tortured for 31 months in Saudi Arabia, died at 52 after suffering four heart attacks in six months.
Three of these were after the torture ended.
No thanks, man. I'll stick with kayaking.
This one always gets me a bit:
I'm wondering if there's not a second entrance or something that sumped and connects, in the US some tracks are a mile or so back but several hours? Sounds significant.
It's incredible that people can do this as a hobby :)
That's not to say there aren't examples of some truly disturbing spelunking - https://i.imgur.com/BkmpH9v.jpg
This said, there are limits - in places like that caving gif upthread, I'd freak the hell out.
They went in there with torches.
It must have made for a very transformative experience.
Do other people who are semi-claustrophobic fear the literal tight place, or dying from something going wrong that's out of your control? The same thing applies to heights. I have no problem with heights at all but ladders bother me a lot because I'm always thinking the ladder will fail at any second.
When I was in the dark, squeezing through tiny holes in various angles, I felt a bit like having an "out-of-body" experience, where my brain visualized my whereabouts in some kind of 3D map and internally I was looking at the whole 3D map "from outside"; like viewing an autonomous robot making its moves. It was quite fascinating. I guess sensory deprivation allowed the "3D mapping signal" to be perceivable and dominant.
Also, given there is no smell inside caves, if you spend a few hours/days inside, then climb back to surface, upon entering ground you are hit by a wall of smells you never perceived before. Suddenly you can distinguish individual flowers, trees, grass, soil etc. That however only lasts a few seconds :-(
I actually believe it is possible to consciously 'do' what you describe to at least some degree. It would be nice to hear more about your experience in detail, may I ask you some questions?
Was it as vivid and sharp as daylight open eye view or was it rather blurry / fuzzy?
Where the colors saturated or rather gray?
Was every action instant or was there a time lag?
Did the shapes stay stable or did they deform or fade after a time [of no new inputs (from touch I guess)]?
What did it look like to touch a wall?
How would you describe the field of view you had in your visualization? Normal? All-Round-View onto the 3D map?
Did you have a feeling for the volume where the field of view of your body would be?
How did you visualize your body? Abstractly or more like you might look in daylight?
Could you move as observer in your visualization or was that out of your control?
I guess it was really dampened sensory inputs, not dominating perception as usually, that allowed this kind of planing/internal model to come out. Without spelunking I'd probably use it only subconsciously in sports like when hitting a tennis ball at 120mph and planning all moves in advance, serving a sneaky ball in volleyball etc. I had a similar feeling once when a car that was joining my road almost rammed into me and I just remember that my brain switched to 100% focus and almost automatically did all the crash avoidant tasks where I felt more like an observer, and the calculation was perfect (i.e. no crash).
Sometimes I ask myself if this is similar to how blind people visualize their world. I remember reading from Hellen Keller (deaf-blind from birth) that she also had a visual representation of the world around here. Something along the lines of the human brain is just build for this kind of representation.
I think that there is some common underlying representation that everyone uses. When seeing something through the eyes this representation is overlayed with salient visual sensor input in eye fov and our internal fov just focuses on this for convience and because it is so damn salient.
I think it is possible to detach the internal fov from the eye fov and see how the brain models the other regions.
Your suggestions that sensory deprivation brings out the underlying internal representation is very intersting. It makes a lot sense! Really gotta try that sensory deprivation chambers some time =)
Oddly, this reminds me of my mild fear of driving. I can't ignore the fact that at any moment while driving, I or anyone driving near me could apply a few paltry newtons of force in a way that causes massive injury and destruction, changing or ending lives. Every time I get behind the wheel, I have to wonder at how casually I'm about to pilot a huge mass at lethal speeds around hundreds of other people casually doing the same thing. There's nothing I can directly do to affect the mistakes of others, but I accept the risk of freak accident and resolve to do what I can to at least reduce the risk of disaster (drive defensively). Analogously, we all accept the (demonstrably small) risk of annihilation by, e.g., gamma-ray burst, and go about our lives.
It is a very useful illusion though. I take it as a sort of veneer that the brain hoists over our eyes to make day to day life bearable. There is some truth to the saying "Ignorance is a bliss".
It's slightly bigger than your head so if anything attached to your neck is going to get stuck, it'll be your helmet, which you can remove.
That was mysterious to me until I saw the rather large electric lighting fixture on the cave floor. So there must be some larger passage somewhere.
Was there maybe an easier route that has fallen away through the centuries and this is what's left?
Or was there perhaps a religious belief here because honestly, if you were trying to hide things, burying stuff sounds just as effective and quite a bit less dangerous.
1. Shorter / thinner stature compared to today's explorers
2. The caves having compressed / become narrower, even slightly, in the last 1000 years
It has to be able to fit anywhere a small adult can fit. It has to be able to climb anything an adult can climb. There has to be a workable communication strategy (wirless, wired) through tunnels of solid rock. And it has to all that well enough not to need frequent retrieval.
Your comment reminded me of this excerpt of a letter to the American Congress about environmental preservation.
It would be significant, because the Mayan version of this god is Chaac https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chaac, and there's some speculation over who inherited the god from whom:
> Although the name Tlaloc is specifically Aztec, worship of a storm god like Tlaloc, associated with mountaintop shrines and with life-giving rain, is as at least as old as Teotihuacan and likely was adopted from the Maya god Chaac or vice versa, or perhaps he was ultimately derived from an earlier Olmec precursor. An underground Tlaloc shrine has been found at Teotihuacan.
But my suspicion is that the archaeologist might have said something like "we found faces of Chaac, who is equivalent to Tláloc" (because Mexicans are much more familiar with Tláloc) and then it was mangled by the reporter.
Archaeologists essentially destroying archaeological information based on the inability to see/measure it. I have never met a scientist that came across a discovery and said, "Wow, this is a huge discovery and we're not even close to being equipped enough to process it correctly, lets just seal it up again and wait." But that was what happened here. It is so amazing to get the chance to look deeply into these things with more capable technology.
Yet, I read a lot of archeology books in my former days and almost all of them said modern archeology is founded on digging test pits and strips, to avoid complete site exposure unless circumstances demand it, since future science will be able to exploit the un-disturbed state of the site to do better science.
Archeologists do the LEAST digging possible nowadays. Its the norm to leave it the hell alone, not the exception.
Surely "LEAST" would be doing only non-invasive sensing, and rescue digs? Many digs still aren't.
> digging test pits and strips, to avoid complete site exposure
And oh, the care taken when digging and refilling pits, to minimize, for instance, the impact on the site microbiome... err, the site microwhatsit? Picture the careful brain surgeon, picking out his dropped bits of pepperoni and cheese, licking them off his greasy fingers, patting the cranial flap down, and beaming proudly.
Archeologists celebrating their standard of care... while being largely unfamiliar with even the current states of research in genomics, remote sensing, computer analysis, robotics, and much else, let alone their forseeable futures... Yes, jewler's pics are better than miner's pickaxes, careful troweling than careful dynamiting, and hand-held DLSR visual-light photos better than hand-held sketchbooks... but by how much? Compared to what's coming over the next hundred years?
You're nitpicking and you know it.
>> digging test pits and strips, to avoid complete site exposure
> And oh, the care taken when digging and refilling pits, to minimize, for instance, the impact on the site microbiome... err, the site microwhatsit? Picture the careful brain surgeon, picking out his dropped bits of pepperoni and cheese, licking them off his greasy fingers, patting the cranial flap down, and beaming proudly.
This is a shit comparison, and you know it.
> Archeologists celebrating their standard of care... while being largely unfamiliar with even the current states of research in genomics, remote sensing, computer analysis, robotics, and much else, let alone their forseeable futures... Yes, jewler's pics are better than miner's pickaxes, careful troweling than careful dynamiting, and hand-held DLSR visual-light photos better than hand-held sketchbooks... but by how much? Compared to what's coming over the next hundred years?
This part is kinda incomprehensible but it seems like you're being critical of how archaeologists apply innovative tools and methods in their work. You don't know, however, that archaeologists are arguably the most interdisciplinary researchers you can imagine, and use methods from all sorts of other fields to address questions of archaeological concern. There is (in my experience, anyway) lots of care to apply these methods in ways that are ethical, in ways that are respectful towards local communities, and in ways that meet the practical constraints that archaeology faces (rugged terrain, slow pace, low funding, limited timeframe, non-reproducible data collection, coordination of methodologically-diverse projects, etc). No tool is recognized to be useful in its own right, it has to be adapted to suit the circumstances and goals of archaeological projects.
This is pretty much exactly what happened with the tomb of the Qin First Emperor, a site of obvious historical importance in a country with extreme respect for history.
And I'm given to understand that it is now standard practice elsewhere to try to leave most of a site buried, so that future archaeologists with better technology may be able to dig in the more pristine part.
So archaeology has certainly developed in this direction, probably through the experience of wanting to test new techniques on old sites and not being able to. I'm not sure why this concept would apply to "scientists" in general, though. If you're looking for facts about the present, you can't really contaminate them by investigation.
less than 5% of the site has been excavated, and Schmidt planned to leave much of it untouched to be explored by future generations when archaeological techniques will presumably have improved
From the Bishop who oversaw the destruction:
"We found a large number of books in these characters and, as they contained nothing in which were not to be seen as superstition and lies of the devil, we burned them all, which they regretted to an amazing degree, and which caused them much affliction."
I can barely imagine the anguish those people must have felt. Imagine witnessing the destruction of your entire recorded history. Virtually all of the knowledge and art produced by the civilization wiped out in a single act.
There has to be some point where you start on something otherwise in 50 years they would be wondering about the tech available 50 years from that.
Postwar times in South America were... complicated, particularly the '60s. A responsible archeologist, be it Pinto or someone else, likely made an assessment that the country was not ready to pay this material the case and attention that it deserved, and decided to simply protect it by leaving it where it was. This happens elsewhere all over the world - in Italy, ancient findings are routinely re-buried when its care cannot be guaranteed for some reason. The practice was a bit less common back then, but not an impossibility - particularly for an already-established archeologist who didn't need more accolades.
> After its initial discovery by farmers in 1966, Balamku was visited by archaeologist Víctor Segovia Pinto
Segovia Pinto reportedly died in 1955, according to this source: https://translate.google.com/translate?hl=&sl=es&tl=en&u=htt...
1955 was 11 years before the reported discovery. Either there is a typo somewhere, or Pinto was not the original discoverer. Pinto was a bit of a celeb at the time, so it's entirely possible that someone erroneously attributed to him what happened in 1966, or that the discovery happened before but was only recorded in 1966.
There are several principles that one mist follow. Archeology is a destructive science: you can't dig the same pit twice, you can't remove artifacts a second time. So the first principle is: document everything, and destroy as little as you can. The second principle is that you must proceed with respect for the living Maya, who may well regard this adventure as a violation of a holy site of their ancestors.
> The local Maya still revere the caves, and shamans make special offerings to the spirit guardians of Balamku and ask for the protection of the scientists who are exploring it.
Seems they're respecting and coordinating with the local living Maya.
I'm sure they take into account all the other knowledge that has been gathered over the years and put this find in context. That's largely missing from the article.
A more -practical- explanation seems more plausible in many cases. E.g. Gobekli looks -educational- to my eyes; I see multiple classrooms.
If it can be properly dated then it's unlikely regular people were living under a pyramid. But if it can't then it might as well be refugees taking shelter in the mayan ruins after its civilization collapsed.
Mithraism was a popular underground (literally) religion among the Roman army. And the Hebrews weren’t about letting people traipse through the holy of holies.
I agree that religion is probably overused in these explanations, but it’s plausible.
I just can't quite get over this stat they dropped in here. 15 million people in ~250 AD puts it in the same neighborhood as ancient Greece at their peak a few hundred years earlier.