Lake Volstok

Under the ice, the unknown

Russian scientists pierced a 2.2-mile-thick shell of ice that protected an inky, alien lake untouched for millions of years this week, and briefly, the world seemed deeper, older, and more mysterious that it did the week before. Cloudy, unconfirmed reports started trickling in Monday about a sub-glacial lake in Antarctica, and the isolated team that had been boring into it for 20 years in the coldest place on Earth (a recorded low of minus 128.6F).

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