- What the hell, China? (Satellite image taken from Google Maps)
The fact that China is building massively-sized structures in its Kumtag Desert and nobody seems to have a clue why is both fascinating and more than a little worrisome.
News of this ominous development in the wastelands of northwest China surfaced this week on reddit when somebody noticed the oddities on Google Maps, although watchers have pointed out the weird formations since 2009. The Danger Room's Noah Shachtman notes that an imaging satellite has repeatedly focused in on the area, suggesting that the authorities are keeping a close eye on these things. As they probably should.
The above monolith, located near the border of Mongolia, seems designed to provoke extreme anxiety in anyone who's not Chinese. (View it on Google Maps.) What is the meaning of this crazy, mile-long patchwork of precisely drawn lines? Internet speculation has touched on everything from a calibration device for spy satellites to an army target-practice range to a "QR code for aliens." Some folks thinks it's just China's attempt to mess with the heads and wallets of Western powers, as the CIA is rumored to have done with the Soviets by planting false reports of military advances in American magazines.
I would add in the possibility that it's the world's killingest ATV course. But even if that's true, what in Chairman Mao's name is this one?
(See it on Google Maps)
In case you're wondering, yes, a few of those boxes appear to be blown to smithereens. But that's not it. How about this mind-bending grid, which stretches on for miles?
The Danger Room has the full set of satellite images (at least the fullest we know of right now), and commenters are doing a fairly good job of outlining possible explanations for these structures. Head on over and give it a perplexing read.