It’s Just Plain Weird: The World’s Largest Cave & “Smart” Cities

The World’s Largest Cave

world's largest cave

In 2009, a group of cavers from the British Cave Research Association led an expedition into a previously unexplored cave on the Laos/Vietnam border known as the Hang Son Doong Cave. The name means Mountain River Cave. A local hunter had found the entrance in 1990 but no one had ventured inside. Measurements inside the cave revealed it to be the world’s largest cave at approximately 3.1 miles (5 k) long, 660 ft (200 m) high and 490 ft (150 m) wide.

They found two dolines. Dolines are areas where the ceiling of the cave has collapsed and light shines through. Rainforest trees and vegetation has grown where those sunbeams reach the ground.

The tallest stalagmites inside the cave are around 32 ft (10 m) tall.

Cave pearls form from dripping water when the flow of the water is too rapid to create stalagmites. Inside the caves were cave pearls the size of baseballs.

In April this year, the divers who recently rescued the boys soccer team trapped in a cave in Thailand were invited to explore the Son Doong cave. Inside they discovered a tunnel leading to another huge cave now called Hang Thung. Measurements were made inside but the divers weren’t expecting to find waters so deep. With this exciting discovery, they plan to return with specialized equipment for deep dives in order to accurately measure the dimensions of the cave. The technical adviser for the group likened it to Mount Everest being found to be a further 3280 ft (1000 m) high.

At this time, it is possible to take a tour to see inside the remote cave, but this entails a four-day jungle trek, a 260 ft (80 m) climb and lots of mud. But for those who have taken the trip, it has been described as “the best place they’ve ever been.”

“Smart City”

Songdo City, Icheon, South Korea is a view of a city of the future. It is designed to be low-carbon, hi-tech and sustainable. The plan is that it will have no air pollution, no traffic congestion and no garbage trucks. It is also the most expensive and the largest private real estate development in the world.

It is under construction on a waterfront on land reclaimed from the Yellow Sea at a cost of over $40 billion. South Korea’s tallest building, the Northeast Asia Trade Tower at 65 floors is on the site.

So why is it a vision of the future? Networked computers are built into houses, streets and offices allowing citizens to video conference with neighbors, take classes remotely and control lighting, air conditioning and heat. There are 16 miles of bike lanes and street sensors regulate traffic flow. All vehicles are electric and there are multiple charging stations.

The designers developed it as a sustainable city with 40% of the area reserved for green space.

Perhaps most innovative of all is a pneumatic waste-disposal system that uses underground pipes that suck garbage from houses and offices to underground processing facilities.

The city is projected to be completed in 2022.


Check out these curiosities and oddities around the world!