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A Stone That Floats in Water, and Wood That Sinks

A Stone That Floats in Water, and Wood That Sinks


It is common knowledge, even to children, that a stone will sink in water, while wood floats. On Changbai Mountain, however, there is a type of stone that does not sink but floats in water. Following the currents, like a small boat, but a kind of wood that cannot float but sinks instead.


The stone thal floats is pumice, also known by the locals as "honeycomb stone" or"foam stone".According to historical records of Changbai Mountain, the pumice found on the surface of Tianchi Lake was lung-shaped, thus its name "sea-lung stone." How was thin pumice formed? A legend goes like this: A long Nine ago, there was no water in Tianchi Lake. Fire was everywhere, filling the skies with rising smoke. There were two brothers called Yu Zhu and Tian Zhu, who heard that Changbai Mountian had become a mountianof fire with no grass. The compassionate brothers prayed to the Jade Emperor for rain. After three days and nights of ram, the fire was quenched, but in left Changbai Mountain dry without any, water. The two brothers decided to dig a well. They worked day and night until the 49th day, when suddenly a wild fire leapt out from the well. They retreated to the peak summit only to see the fire burning even wilder. In the midst of this crisis, they made a quick decision, and hurriedly filled the well with stones. After seven days and nights, the fire was put out. The two brothers went on to dig up the well, neglecting everything else.


They first dug out the stones filling the well, which had been burnt and become light with honeycomb holes on the surface. After days of digging, the struck water, which over flowed quickly to the summit. Those honeycombed stones all floated away on water surface. The well was the Tianchi Lake; and the burnt stones were pumice. In reality, pumice was formed by lava erupting out of volcanoes in Tianchi Lake. All over the stones’ surface are bubble holes, so lull of air that it is lightweight. No mailer how big a piece it is, pumice can float on water. Thus, it acquired the name "floating-stone." With a surface similar to mountain stone, the color of pumice varies from yellow, gray, brown to black. Though a piece of pumice might look big, you can easily lift it. People consider this a peculiarity of northeast China. These unusual stones can be found in the forests in a circumference of thousands o h. Washed down from Tianchi Lake to Songhua River, a large amount of pumice floats along the river, passing through the mountains, the Northeast Ptams, and finally to the sea via Heilongjiang River. Floating   in water, the part under Water is wet while the part above water is dry. When the sun shines on the dry side, small particles give off an amazing metal-like luster, creating a natural vision along the vast expanses of Songhua River. 


Pumice has many uses. Local people often use it to build walls due to its portability. When it is used as grinding stone, rust can be removed easily; and when used for bathing, dirt on the feet is easily removed, too. As pumice is lightweight and non-heat conducive, it may be made into hollow brick or interior decoration face bricks to prevent against heat loss or fire. Some clothing factories buy large quantities of such stones to stonewash jeans and pants. At the foot of Changbai Mountain, pumice presents a good way for individuals and enterprises to get rich.


Wood is usually able to float in water. In light of this feature, ancient people used it for canoes and as planks for boats, being a great convenience topeople in production and life. Bit, in Changbai Mountain, there are at least four or five types of wood that sink down to the bottom of water, At an elevation of about 1,700 m on Changbai Mountain, there grows a kind of Betula ermanii, which the locals call "iron tree." or "alpine birch." that is hard and has such a heavy density that it cannot float in water, but sinks to the bottom of water. The other tree varieties that live in the same zone with Betuta ermanii do not have such qualities. The reasons remain a mystery. Discovering the uses for this kind of tree still awaits further research.


Another peculiar tree variety is Acer mono, which is as hard as steel, exceeding the density of water several times over. Therefore, it sinks immediately as soon as it is placed in water. Of course, this kind of tree is very rare. Without the assistance of locals or forest experts, it is difficult for ordinary people to find.


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