30 July 2006

Huangyangtan and The Da Vinci Code

A certain Nigel W. from the UK (I believe) sent me an interesting email. He has been looking at some of the other discoveries I have made in Google Earth and has found some surprising connections. In one direction from the Huangyangtan scale model I had found a giant message in Tibetan (not Chinese) stamped into the frozen ice of a lake. It is the only Buddhist mantra visible from space. In the opposite direction I found that the photo of an airbase shows a MIG jet just as it took off from the runway (it's only a few meters above the tarmac).

Mr. W. found that all three locations line up. And the ratio of the distances lake > MIG vs lake > Huangyangtan is the Phi number popularized by Dan Brown's "The Da Vinci Code". Furthermore, if you draw another line perpendicular to this first one, starting at Huangyangtan, the second line goes to the tomb of Qin Shi Huang, the first emperor of China and the site where the famous Terracotta Army was found. The line extends further to the airbase of Xian, where multiple jets (perhaps long-range bombers) parked on the runway point back to the model in Huangyangtan.

Are you feeling scared, dear reader?

29 July 2006

Huangyangtan - Stealth relocation

The weather was, for the first time in a few weeks, cool enough that it was possible to go outside. As stated earlier, Wife and Daughter are out of town. I had stocked up before they left (with our car), but found it necessary a few days before their return to leave the apartment being as I had run out of food. The only things left in the cupboards were some Kitty Nibbles, left over from our former cat Pookie, as well as some anchovies, which I think Wife is saving for something.

I took a route that promised a bit more shade, which led me past a hedge around the Noisy Family's house. Through it I noticed a lot of turquoise blue. Ah, ha! The swimming pool has been relocated to the other side of the house. That explains why the shrieking and cries of "Owww-wah" have been less distinct recently, with more of an echo to them.

Boing Boing seems to have picked up on the Huangyangtan mystery, reporting on the article that appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald (
link to Boing Boing).

Don't forget those food-money PayPal donations to FeedMyGEHabit@yahoo.com; that's what keeps quality journalism like this possible.

27 July 2006

Huangyangtan - Like a virus

The news about my Huangyangtan find is spreading slowly through the Internet, like a 700 x 900 meter worm digging through decaying leaves and organic matter, looking for a cool ice cream or a mate, while ... hmm, well, that analogy doesn't seem to express it properly. The word "slowly", at least, is applicable. A few stats:

- Technorati says 262 blogs have picked up on the Google Earth discovery
- Searching in Google for "Huangyangtan" gives 36,300 results. Three days ago it stood at 12,500.

I noticed that Freenet.de, an ISP in Germany, has published it in their news portal (
Mysteriƶse Entdeckung bei Google Earth). Under "Paranormal". Hmm, maybe that's where news goes that can't be categorized as relating to either Zidane or Britney Spears.

25 July 2006

Huangyangtan - Removed?

The racket behind the magpie-occupied barrier has subsided. For two reasons:
1. The temporary swimming pool has been taken away. Must have been just for the party.
2. The two children and the doberman have also been taken away, into the house. It's too hot for them outside. The parents keep the windows closed during the day, which keeps the cool air as well as the noise inside.
Too bad the heat on my sunny balcony is 39 C / 102 F, otherwise I could take advantage of the temporary ceasefire.

Our response to an email received here at the Found in China offices:

Dear gam3zBust3r,

No, we're sorry, we don't offer "games cheat" (neither Playstation/PS2 nor X Box/XBox), music lyrics, pictures of Jenna Jameson or Paris Hilton, or information about MySpace, Ebay or Yahoo. We assume your query landed here by mistake. Since, in light of your current deficit of these items, you probably have some free time, why not try out Google Earth? Think of it as a satellite photo-based first person shooter, albeit with only one level, no weapons and no adversary.

The Management

24 July 2006

Huangyangtan - Attacked!

With the heatwave here in Germany I have to keep the windows open all night to cool off the inside of the apartment a bit. Magpies live in the cloaking shield (tall pine trees) between us and the Loud Family. Normally they spend their day directly across from me, loitering or whatever magpies do in the tops of the trees . Their curiousity about these open windows at night overcame their mimimal amount of reserve. Looks like they were on the windowsill, poking around at some of our things there. Tomorrow they'll probably be bold enough to make off with the television.

According to
Technorati 154 posts (minus 8 of my own) have brought up the Huangyangtan mystery. Probably most of them are as little read as my own. But I appreciate the interest both of my readers have shown.

23 July 2006

Huangyangtan - International support grows

Thanks to our friends at Great Surplus Deals, obviously one of the more excellent Ebay shops, for their PayPal contribution towards uncovering the Huangyangtan mystery (and keeping my wife at bay).

Upon closer examination, Great Surplus Deals seems to have a lot of stuff that's not exactly your run-of-the-mill surplus. Besides mundane materials like various industrial lamps, there are things you've perhaps been missing to complete construction of your own nuclear testing facility, as far as I can judge ("Explosion-proof transmitter", "Plasma furnace control"). Hmm, probably no connection to the Chinese Area 51, though. OK, let them through.

Huangyangtan - Swimming pool noise pollution II

Yup, there's a water-based decibelfest going on behind the trees. Big swimming pool inauguration party, friends of the family have been invited. Note that most of the friends are loud families, too. I theorize that either the Loud Family sought them out for that quality, or all their quiet friends left them for less accoustically-challenging social circles. I have heard throughout this summer one visiting child who, though as loud as the others, seems a bit weaker than the other brawlers, his most frequent shout is "I demand that you let go of me immediately!". He is here (there, really, but it's as if he were here next to my desk) this evening. Now the children have moved off to the park on the other side of that house, and their shouting, rather than coming into my apartment directly, is coming in as multiple echoes from surrounding buildings. Dolby 5.1 cacophony.

The Huangyangtan movie is now available at YouTube (it took a while before it showed up).

Huangyangtan - The Movie

By popular request I have published the low-res, hard-to-see-anything movie about Huangyangtan at (where else) YouTube:

Perhaps it will serve to draw a younger audience to Google Earth, one that has shifted from watching television all day to watching random video clips all day. They could, uh, start looking at random places on the Earth all day.

Huangyangtan - Swimming pool noise pollution

It's still pretty hot here in Germany. That is evidenced by the fact that the family who lives next to our apartment building is setting up a huge temporary swimming pool in their backyard. Good news for them, bad news for us. Why? The balconies of this building are on the side that faces that house. And that family has been nicknamed The Noisy Family. The volume of their normal speaking voices of the two young children is stuck on "loud", the mode they're in after they get up in the morning. When the boy and his sister brawl (which is their primary activity after their mother moves them into the backyard) it moves up to "deafening to everyone nearby". The next sequence in events is that one of them gets hurt (or maybe not) and starts crying "Owwww-wah!" repeatedly. At that point the mother comes out and yells at the offender (or the Doberman, whom we now know by name), "How often have I told you not to do that?!". Neither the children nor the dog ever respond to this question, because they know that the parents will never actually do anything to break the routine.

This drama in parenting skills has gone on for two years without us actually seeing any of it; tall trees block the view between the two properties. When the family moved in we estimated, by their speech, that the children were 3 years old. Their way of communicating has not developed during that time. As adults they will probably shout all day without anyone paying attention to them until they cry "Owwww-wah!".

Back to the swimming pool. It is a known fact that swimming pools cause a physiological change in the vocal chords of children such that their voice becomes twice as loud, and reprograms the speech center to shout out only "Look, Mommy, Mommy, look!". It happened to me, it happens to my daughter. Even before today the residents of our apartment complex had taken to closing their windows on this side of the building during the PBT (Primary Brawl Time, 8:30 - 19:00 h seven days a week) and have foregone use of their balconies. My desk is on this side. The swimming pool can only make things worse.

Oh, yeah, thank you for reminding me. This blog is about watching what is happening with the news of my find in China. It's quiet today. Perhaps the whole thing is winding down. Roughly 1 person per minute is reading the forum post, led to it probably from one of 124 blogs somewhere. I'm guessing that the big peak on Friday came after Der Spiegel ran a short piece on the find. The Register ran a follow-up piece on clever ideas sent to them by their readers:

22 July 2006

Huangyangtan - Area 51 connection?

It's down to 27 C / 80 F in here in my apartment, which hasn't yet been attacked by Chinese jets. A good time to add more information.

T-Portal in Croatia (Germany's T-Com / T-Online service there) has picked up on the story. My Croatian is a bit rusty, most of the comments have something to do with Area 51. Hmm, maybe they're on to something, those Croatians. Have the Chinese built a competitor to Area 51? Or maybe they have their own UFO and have moved it closer to but still a safe distance from Beijing. You know how aliens are; when you transplant them, you want their environment to stay familiar. So the Chinese have made a replica of the Aksai Chin region, where their aliens originally landed, to make their guests' new location more comfortable.

Don't forget those food-money PayPal donations to FeedMyGEHabit@yahoo.com. KenGrok will continue to do his best to uncover the Huangyangtan mystery.

21 July 2006

Huangyangtan - Family reaction / media reaction

My daughter and wife are actually out of town this week, they're missing out on the action. Called to see how they're doing. Wife's reaction: Yes, but how is your business coming along? Daughter: Wow! Can we buy a copy of the Sydney newspaper? Maybe you'll become a spy and some money will come out of this and we can finally get a pony! (Answers: Sydney paper hard to find here in Germany, likelihood that anybody will donate anything is very slim, and those few dollars that trickle in will have to go into showing your mother that a 2 GB RAM upgrade was the smartest thing in the world)

As mentioned earlier, the Sydney newspaper is one of the places that has picked up on the forum find. They have their own blog going on, pretty funny, even if the Australian sense of humor is, well, sometimes rather Australian.

Der Spiegel in Germany ran a short spot on it, got a couple of facts wrong. That's Der Spiegel for you.

The Register (UK) seems to have gotten the chatter starting:

According to Technorati 70 blogs have something to say about the scale-model landscape.

How would I describe the experience at this particular moment? Still hot, even at 23:00 h. 29 C / 84 F in the apartment. I moved the refrigerator next to my desk here and keep its door open, but it doesn't seem to help much other than make the yogurt more accessible.

Huangyangtan - A GE forum member's first post

Hi, I'm KenGrok, the Google Earth forum member who started the post about that strange, scale-model landscape in the middle of the Chinese desert.

Let me start by saying that I am a geography fanatic. During my college days I spent Saturday evenings in my university library's map and atlas room. Just browsing the Earth. For me Google Earth is a dream come true.

I'm not a Google Earth oldtimer (from Keyhole days). I've been using it since last year sometime. Then the new beta came out last month with lots of new photos, especially of areas outside the U.S. That's when I went into turbo mode. I like landscapes (even at low resolutions), but now there is enough detail to see the human geography; cities, roads, structures, etc.

I've been crawling through western China (from my chair here in Germany) since February, even more so since the release of the new photos. It is such a fascinating place. I've never really been part of any forum until a few weeks ago, when I decided to join the Google Earth community. Why? I want answers. I don't need to post "Hey, wow! Here's where I live". I already know that, my wife has a key, and my parents already have my mailing address. I want to know what things are. I post things mostly to ask what they are (me too stupid), occasionally to point out something that might be of interest to others.

My first post was this scale-model landscape in Huangyangtan

The forum members liked the find and there was a fair amount of discussion. At some point it made it into the press, with screen shots, and then it really took off. Lots of reads in the forum (about 12 a minute, as I write this), though not a lot of answers, unfortunately.

Watching all the action, I decided to start a blog (my first ever) to run parallel to the forum. Why would I do that, too, when I had never been inclined to be part of a forum in the first place? To describe the experience, I guess. So far the find was reported in the UK (The Register) and in Australia (Sydney Morning Herald). Perhaps it will get bigger. I'll document that experience. It would also be interesting to see if something big results from this find (India invades China, or Chinese jets bomb my apartment, for example). If it goes nowhere and just kind of peters out, that's OK, too.

Here's part of the experience: it is really hot in here. 29 C / 84 , 34 C / 93 F outside. No jets in sight, though.

Oh, my wife has obligated me to make the following statement:
"I admit that I spend too much time with Google Earth. The money that I spent to upgrade to 2 GB of RAM to allow for a big cache in GE could have been used to buy food for our daughter. I promise to ask for donations from kind and friendly people who can sympathize with a guy whose wife wants him to get off the computer and do something productive".

Well, she's right. After outsourcing I was laid off, and am in the process of trying to get a business idea or two going, which takes time. And GE takes time away from that.

So, PayPal your donations to
FeedMyGEHabit@yahoo.com. Yes, that's the address I set up to show my wife that the 2 GB upgrade not only made GE nicer to use (so I can get to work faster), but it actually paid for itself in the end (don't forget the donation part of that, dear reader). And that we won't starve to death (especially since she doesn't yet know I upgraded to a passively-cooled graphics card to reduce the noise while I sit here).

OK, I'll publish this now, then figure out the rest of how to run a blog.

Yours truly,