The Garden of Eden - in China?
Could the unforgiving Taklamakan Desert once have been the location of the Garden of Earthly Delights?
Imagine it’s a long, long time ago. As the legend on the map says: “Before the upheaval of Central Asia. Before the subsidence of the Pacific Continent. Before the change in the position of the Polar regions. Before the Deluge.”
Ah, the Deluge. That gives us a pretty specific time frame. To Biblical literalists, sacred history comes with a very real chronology; the universe was created one weekend about six thousand years ago, the Great Flood is less than four and a half thousand years old . In contrast, those who prefer their world view seasoned with a generous helping of science, will be more inclined towards the hypothesis that it all started with a Big Bang, some 13 billion years ago.
Even without going into the whole Creationism versus Evolutionism debate , the massive imbalance in the size of their back stories seems to work in favour of the thesis with the bigger reserves of time. Antiquity suggests validity. It’s much more difficult to argue with the vast aeons at the disposal of the Big Bangers than with the puny millennia of the Adam and Eve crowd. Put another way, the former have more logical explanations for phenomena like past extinctions and climate changes than the latter.
But sacred history does have one big advantage over natural history - it has better stories. In the darwinist reading, the path from past to present was forged by impersonal forces: either big accidents (meteors, climate change) or slow evolutionary changes (frontal lobes, opposable thumbs). The ‘supernatural’ version in the Bible actually is the more ‘humanist’ one: it gives centre stage to Mr and Mrs Sapiens, and explains history as a consequence of the choices they face .
For Darwinists, our dog-eat-dog world merely is the successor to a previous, dinosaur-eat-dinosaur incarnation. In science, there is no Garden of Eden. The idea of Eden - that once there was a perfect state of affairs, when truth and happiness were not opposed , and virtue as pure as the world was young - is a powerful and attractive one , explaining the continued popularity of the sacred version of history, in spite of some obvious logical problems .
So imagine it’s a biblically long time ago. It’s the age of innocence, and life is good in the Garden of Eden. But where is this Garden? The hunt for the exact location of humanity’s original home is a fascinating quest, and a centuries-long cartographic conundrum . If they chose to include it on a map, cartographers usually picked a location in the Middle East, that cockpit of hallowed history.
These two maps, however, are quite extraordinarily different. Eden is placed far away from its more usual location in or near Mesopotamia  - The Garden is moved East of Eden, to borrow Steinbeck’s title .
They are the work of Tse Tsan-tai (1872-1938), a Chinese revolutionary, newspaperman and Christian propagandist. Born in Sydney and baptised James Yee, Tse moved to Hong Kong whence he started agitating for the Qing dynasty on the mainland to be replaced by a democratic republic. The plot failed to come to fruition, and Tse had more success co-founding the South China Morning Post in 1903.
In 1914, Tse wrote The Creation, the Garden of Eden and the Origin of the Chinese, in which he attempted to prove, based on the geographical description in the Bible, that the Garden of Eden was located in China.
Tse’s outlandish theory was an attempt at proving that at least some Biblical events had taken place in China - and that therefore Christianity was not alien to the Middle Kingdom . The book was meant to dispel the notion that Christianity in China was a tool of foreign powers, at a time when the countries sending the missionaries were the same ones bullying a weak China into granting them coastal concessions .
The first map gives a global overview of the Bible-based world history as seen by Tse, and as opposed to others: two black dots represent the usual presumed location of Eden, in what appears to be either Iraq or southeastern Turkey. A red circle represents Tse’s hypothesis. It places Eden in the far west of China, in what was then known as Chinese Turkestan (and now as Xinjiang).
The location picked by Tse corresponds to the description in the Bible, referring to the course of four rivers near the Garden of Eden . Apparently unconnected to the Edenic claim are red lines on the map, that indicate ancient shorelines, and point to a giant sunken continent stretching from Papua New Guinea almost all the way to South America. It remains unexplained what this continent is, and which Bible verse it is based on; but it is reminiscent, shape- and location-wise, to the lost continent of Mu .
The map also shows an X in Tse's handwriting, marking a spot in Greenland that is supposed to have been the Antediluvian North Pole, Latitude 75˚, Longitude 40˚. Again, the Biblical foundation and any connection to Eden remain unexplained on the map.
Finally, the colour scheme on the map shows the world as peopled by Noah’s descendants. Biblical tradition holds that the world’s population descends from no more than three men  - the sons of Noah: Shem, Ham and Japhet, the forefathers of the Semites (in the Middle East, and on this map, much of Asia and all of America), the Hamites (Africa, Arabia, India) and Japhetites (Europe). The Semitic expansion into Asia provides blood links between China and the Bible.
The second map gives an indication of the geopositional shoehorning Tse applied to the geographical indications in Genesis, identifying India with Havilah . The result is the location of Eden in what appears to be a most unlikely place: an area between the Tarim River and the Kuen Lun Mountains better known today as the Taklamakan Desert. The area, now the world’s second-largest sand desert after the Empty Quarter in Arabia, is one of the most inhospitable places on earth.
But ruined cities buried beneath the sand seem to indicate that the Taklamakan may not always have been as unforgiving as it has been for the last few millennia. In fact, its very name may hold a clue to its climatological past. Often, and erroneously, translated as something like ‘Once you enter, you’ll never make it out’, or ‘Sea of Death’ a more recent etymology suggests the name might actually mean ‘Land of Poplars’ .
Could it be that today’s sand desert once really was a garden paradise?
Many thanks to Heather Hausman at Atlas Obscura for informing me of a lecture by Brook Wilensky-Lanford, the author of Paradise Lust: Searching for the Garden of Eden (see footnote 7).
Strange Maps #583
Got a strange map? Let me know at email@example.com.
 James Ussher, a 17th-century (Anglican) Archbishop of Armagh, famously calculated from hints in the Book of Genesis that Creation started at dusk on Saturday 22 October 4004 BC; he placed the Flood at 2348 BC, resulting in a total of 1656 years for the entirety of the Antediluvian era.
 It really isn’t a debate. But that’s a non-debate better held elsewhere.
 Albeit always in relation to God, and usually in the sense that they cheese Him off.
 The current paradigm holds that knowledge is power, but ignorance is bliss.
 In religion as in politics, the lure of the ‘good old days’ is as age-worn and as common as the lament that the world is going to hell in a handbasket.
 Where on that limited time scale do you place the dinosaurs?
 See ‘Paradise Lust: Searching for the Garden of Eden’ for at both those clues and the eventual locations, with an overview of some of the most crucial attempts at mapping the original location of Eden.
 Greek for the Land between the Rivers, i.e. the Tigris and Euphrates. This well-watered land of ancient cultures is now divided between Iraq, and parts of Syria and Turkey.
 Who borrowed it from the Bible: And Cain went out from the presence of the LORD, and dwelt in the land of Nod, on the east of Eden. (Genesis, 4:16)
 Nestorian Christianity was present in China from the mid-7th century onwards, but was extinct by the year 1000.
 Control of a string of coastal towns was wrested from the Chinese Empire by Austro-Hungary (Tianjin, 1902-’17), Belgium (ibid., 1902-’31), Great Britain (Tianjin and half a dozen other concessions, all extinguished before 1945; and Hong Kong, ruled as a colony from 1841 to 1997), France (five concessions, all ended in 1946), Germany (Tianjin and two others, ended in 1917), Italy (Tianjin, until 1947), Japan (seven concessions, and Taiwan, administered as a colony), Portugal (Macau - the oldest, and last European colony in China: 1557-1999), Russia (four different territories) and the United States (in Shanghai).
 Now a river flowed out of Eden to water the garden; and from there it divided and became four rivers. The name of the first is Pishon; it flows around the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold. The gold of that land is good; the bdellium and the onyx stone are there. The name of the second river is Gihon; it flows around the whole land of Cush. The name of the third river is Tigris; it flows east of Assyria. And the fourth river is the Euphrates. (Genesis 2:10-14).
 The presumed source information for which is Mayan rather than Biblical. See #47.
 Curiously, recent advances in genetic biology means that science too now can pinpoint a common ancestor for all mankind - ‘Mitochondrial Eve’.
 More commonly identified with locations on the Arabian Peninsula, such as the Hijaz Mountains in western Saudi Arabia, or parts of Yemen.
 According to research by Qian Boquan , historian of the Xinjiang Academy of Social Sciences in Urumqi.
Northwell Health CEO Michael Dowling has an important favor to ask of the American people.
- Michael Dowling is president and CEO of Northwell Health, the largest health care system in New York state. In this PSA, speaking as someone whose company has seen more COVID-19 patients than any other in the country, Dowling implores Americans to wear masks—not only for their own health, but for the health of those around them.
- The CDC reports that there have been close to 7.9 million cases of coronavirus reported in the United States since January. Around 216,000 people have died from the virus so far with hundreds more added to the tally every day. Several labs around the world are working on solutions, but there is currently no vaccine for COVID-19.
- The most basic thing that everyone can do to help slow the spread is to practice social distancing, wash your hands, and to wear a mask. The CDC recommends that everyone ages two and up wear a mask that is two or more layers of material and that covers the nose, mouth, and chin. Gaiters and face shields have been shown to be less effective at blocking droplets. Homemade face coverings are acceptable, but wearers should make sure they are constructed out of the proper materials and that they are washed between uses. Wearing a mask is the most important thing you can do to save lives in your community.
Two massive clouds of dust in orbit around the Earth have been discussed for years and finally proven to exist.
- Hungarian astronomers have proven the existence of two "pseudo-satellites" in orbit around the earth.
- These dust clouds were first discovered in the sixties, but are so difficult to spot that scientists have debated their existence since then.
- The findings may be used to decide where to put satellites in the future and will have to be considered when interplanetary space missions are undertaken.
What are they?<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8xODgyMDA0NC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYzNTM1ODc0Mn0.NH33LuauIo__sUBi4tvhwxDcsvhflDFD-Nhx9FjlSNk/img.jpg?width=1245&coordinates=148%2C0%2C149%2C0&height=700" id="cec96" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="acb78abe2ab46a17e419ad30906751d6" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Artist's impression of the Kordylewski cloud in the night sky (with its brightness greatly enhanced) at the time of the observations.
G. Horváth<p>The<a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kordylewski_cloud" target="_blank"> Kordylewski clouds</a> are two dust clouds first observed by Polish astronomer Kazimierz Kordylewski in 1961. They are situated at two of the <a href="https://www.space.com/30302-lagrange-points.html" target="_blank">Lagrange points</a> in Earth's orbit. These points are locations where the gravity of two objects, such as the Earth and the Moon or a planet and the Sun, equals the centripetal required to orbit the objects while staying in the same relative position. There are five of these spots between the Earth and Moon. The clouds rest at what are called points four and five, forming a triangle with the clouds and the Earth at the three corners.</p><p>The clouds are enormous, taking up the same space in the night sky as twenty lunar discs; covering an area of 45,000 miles. They are roughly 250,000 miles away, about the same distance from us as the Moon. They are entirely comprised of specks of dust which reflect the light of the sun so faintly most astronomers that looked for them were unable to see them at all. </p><p>The clouds themselves are probably ancient, but the model that the scientists created to learn about them suggests that the individual dust particles that comprise them can be blown away by solar wind and replaced by the dust from other cosmic sources like comet tails. This means that the clouds hardly move but are <a href="https://www.nationalgeographic.com/science/2018/11/news-earth-moon-dust-clouds-satellites-planets-space/" target="_blank">eternally changing</a>. </p>
How did they discover this?<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8xODgyMDAzNi9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY1Nzc4MjQ4MX0.7uU9OqmQcWw5Ll1UXAav0PCu4nTg-GdJdAWADHanC7c/img.jpg?width=1245&coordinates=0%2C180%2C0%2C181&height=700" id="952fb" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="a778280a20f1c54cd2c14c8313224be2" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
"In this picture the central region of the Kordylewski dust cloud is visible (bright red pixels). The straight tilted lines are traces of satellites."
J. Slíz-Balogh<p>In their study published in the <a href="https://academic.oup.com/mnras" target="_blank">Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society</a>, Hungarian astronomers Judit Slíz-Balogh, András Barta, and Gábor Horváth described how they were able to find the dust clouds using polarized lenses.</p><p>Since the clouds were expected to polarize the light that bounces off of them, by configuring the telescopes to look for this kind of light the clouds were much easier to spot. What the scientists observed, polarized light in patterns that extended outside the view of the telescope lens, was in line with the predictions of their mathematical model and ruled out other possible sources. </p>
Why are we just learning this now?<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8xODgyMDAzOS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY2MjUyNDMyMH0.Zl8GmQ_rJHiL4b7hN0r_YBmgb6_ZqIRvqOVuko2ubpw/img.jpg?width=1245&coordinates=0%2C141%2C0%2C185&height=700" id="87afe" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="dd4c0b5088e601d7279cc5eb226f8b7b" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
"Mosaic pattern of the angle of polarization around the L5 point (white dot) of the Earth-Moon system. The five rectangular windows correspond to the imaging telescope with which the patterns of the Kordylewski cloud were measured."
J. Slíz-Balogh<p>The objects, being dust clouds, are very faint and hard to see. While Kordylewski observed them in 1961, other astronomers have looked there and given mixed reports over the following decades. This discouraged many astronomers from joining the search, as study co-author Judit Slíz-Balogh <a href="https://ras.ac.uk/news-and-press/research-highlights/earths-dust-cloud-satellites-confirmed" target="_blank">explained</a>, <em>"The Kordylewski clouds are two of the toughest objects to find, and though they are as close to Earth as the Moon are largely overlooked by researchers in astronomy. It is intriguing to confirm that our planet has dusty pseudo-satellites in orbit alongside our lunar neighbor."</em></p>
Will this have any impact on space travel?<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="c3d797fff5430c64afcb5a49bddc3616"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/Ou8N3v9SFPE?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p>Lagrange points have been put forward as excellent locations for a space station or satellites like the <a href="https://jwst.nasa.gov/about.html" target="_blank">James Webb Telescope</a> to be put into orbit, as they would require little fuel to stay in place. Knowing about a massive dust cloud that could damage sensitive equipment already being there could save money and lives in the future. While we only know about the clouds at Lagrange points four and five right now, the study's authors suggest there could be more at the other points.</p><p>While the discovery of a couple of dust clouds might not seem all that impressive, it is the result of a half-century of astronomical and mathematical work and reminds us that wonders are still hidden in our cosmic backyard. While you might never need to worry about these clouds again, there is nothing wrong with looking at the sky with wonder at the strange and fantastic things we can discover. </p>
New cancer-scanning technology reveals a previously unknown detail of human anatomy.
- Scientists using new scanning technology and hunting for prostate tumors get a surprise.
- Behind the nasopharynx is a set of salivary glands that no one knew about.
- Finding the glands may allow for more complication-free radiation therapies.
PSMA PET/CT technology<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="676e611b970c9b516cace0870447b325"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/RHAyoQF09X4?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p>PSMA PET/CT is a new combination of <a href="https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/pet-scan/about/pac-20385078" target="_blank">PET scans</a> and <a href="https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/ct-scan/about/pac-20393675" target="_blank">CT scans</a> that is believed to offer a more reliable means of locating prostate cancer metastasis. A <a href="https://www.cancer.gov/news-events/cancer-currents-blog/2020/prostate-cancer-psma-pet-ct-metastasis" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">study</a> published last spring suggests it may be the most accurate way to diagnose prostate cancer metastasis than any method previously available.</p><p>Prior to PSMA PET/CT, the primary way to look for metastatic prostate cancer was to image the body using x-ray-based CT scans and to perform bone scans, since bone is where prostate cancer often spreads. CT scans, however, often miss small tumors, and bone scans can generate false positives as a result of other damage or abnormalities that have nothing to do with prostate cancer.</p><p>PSMA PET/CT scans track the travels of an intravenously administered radioactive glucose tracer throughout the body. For hunting down prostate cancer, this tracer contains a molecule that binds to the <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1472940/" target="_blank">PSMA</a> protein that's present in large amounts in prostate tumors. The molecule is linked to a radioisotope, <a href="https://netrf.org/2018/11/13/gallium-68-scan-for-neuroendocrine-tumors/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">gallium-68</a> (Ga-68).</p><p>In last spring's research, PSAM PET/CT was shown to be 27 percent more accurate than previous methods at finding metastases (92 percent accuracy as opposed to 65 percent). In addition, it was found to be much less likely to produce false positives, and it was particularly good at detecting tumors far removed from the prostate.</p>
A good kind of avoidance behavior<p>"Radiation therapy can damage the salivary glands," says Vogel, "which may lead to complications. Patients may have trouble eating, swallowing, or speaking, which can be a real burden."</p><p>The researchers looked back through the cases of 723 patients who had undergone radiation treatment, interested in seeing if inadvertent radiation of the tubarial glands was associated with the complications experienced by the patients. It turned out that this <em>was</em> the case: In cases where more radiation had been delivered to this area, patients did indeed report more in the way of complications of the type one would expect when salivary glands are radiated.</p><p>Now that we know the tubarial salivary glands exist, therapists can stay out of their way. Vogel says, "For most patients, it should technically be possible to avoid delivering radiation to this newly discovered location of the salivary gland system in the same way we try to spare known glands."</p><p>He's hopeful that that things may be about to get at least a bit better for cancer patients: "Our next step is to find out how we can best spare these new glands and in which patients. If we can do this, patients may experience less side effects which will benefit their overall quality of life after treatment."</p>
A new survey found that 27 percent of millennials are saving more money due to the pandemic, but most can't stay within their budgets.