A few weeks ago, I learned of a neat website which uses the Google Maps API to identify the direction of Qiblah (prayer direction towards Mecca) from anywhere in the world. Naturally, I thought to use it to answer a question that has intrigued me for some time: what is the polar opposite of the Qiblah? That is, where in the world can one pray in any direction and still be praying towards Mecca in the shortest possible line? What are you praying toward if you're off by a full 180 degrees?
My cousin and I searched through the South Pacific until we found that specific point, using the Qibla Locator tool. While the exact polar opposite point fell in the middle of the ocean, a nearby island caught our attention. It was a ring-shaped island, quite unlike anything I had seen before.
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At the outset, the island appeared uninhabited. Google's satellite view did a remarkable job in allowing us to zoom into the details, and there were no immediate signs of human interference. But in those details, we noticed something quite unusual: the uniformity of the vegetation. Many of the trees were aligned in an odd grid pattern, almost as if they were replanted after being destroyed somehow.
Looking deeper along the northern perimeter of the ring, we did find some signs of human intervention. There appears to be some sort of helipad, and a few buildings scattered around it. The buildings were nestled perfectly within the grid of trees, leading me to believe that the same people who replanted all those trees have raised those buildings.
It turns out that there are a number of such islands along the South Pacific. The ring shape is a naturally occurring formation called an atoll, but the tree patterns are definitely not natural. I do wonder what is going on in this most remote of locations, furthest away from Mecca. Perhaps it is a nuclear testing site, where scientists are studying the effects of radiation on reforestation efforts. Or maybe they've genetically re-engineered dinosaurs, for the sake of building a massive theme park. Perhaps it is something far less sinister. Either way, it makes for some interesting speculation.