Time Capsule: 13,998,000 BC

Do you remember the scene in Back to the Future where the
town opens its time capsule? Trinkets and memorabilia from a time
past that show how bad our pop cultural tastes were and how far
society has progressed. Maybe you even remember the story
about the Arizonatown which upon opening its 1985 time capsule couldn’t
find the Mexican brandy that had been included. Surely it was
brought into the service of bordercrossing tunnel diggers. Well, the Russians are about to
open perhaps the oldest time capsule on the planet. Lake
Vostok, in the Antarctic, has been frozen over under 2.5 miles of
ice for 14 million years. The water of Vostok is
super-saturated with oxygen, 50 times higher than those found in a
typical surface lake. Researchers are
interested in the lake because of its isolation from the
world. From an article at earthscience.org
we learn

Because of the long isolation
of this lake, it is believed that the water inside Lake Vostok
could contain new lifeforms, and unique geochemical

Imprecise language aside – it’s hard
to call life that has been undiscovered for 14mm years “new” – it
is interesting to consider what may be down there. Some are
interested in how the conditions in Vostok could help further
understanding of potential extraterrestrial life. From Wired

The conditions in Lake Vostok
are very similar to the conditions on Jupiter’s moon Europa and
Saturn’s moon Enceladus, so the new data could also strengthen
the case for extraterrestrial life.

The Russian drill is currently 328 feet above the lake. The
summer is waning and the window for drilling is closing. “Time
circuits on. Flux Capacitor… fluxxing. Engine running. All
right!” – Marty McFly

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