Prince Yuri Lubovedsky
When Karpenko had finished, the second report was made by Dr. SariOgli. I had met and made friends with Dr. SariOgli five years before. Although by origin a Persian, from Eastern Persia, he had been educated in France. Perhaps I shall at some time write a detailed account of him, as he was a most distinguished and highly remarkable man.
Dr. SariOgli spoke approximately as follows:
‘After hearing the report of the mining engineer, Karpenko, I shall say “Pass” as regards the first part of my report, because I consider that nothing better than his proposals can be found. However, coming to the second part of my report, which concerns the task I set myself of finding a means of overcoming the difficulties of movement in the desert during sandstorms, I wish to tell you my thoughts and the results of my experiments. The conclusions I arrived at and the experimental data I obtained complement very well, in my opinion, the proposals of Karpenko, and I shall therefore submit them to you.
‘In these deserts, one has very often to pass through winds and storms, during which movement sometimes becomes quite impossible both for man and beast, since the wind lifts quantities of sand up into the air and, whirling it along, deposits mountains of it where only a moment before there were hollows.
‘And so I reflected that any progress would be impeded by the whirlwinds of sand. My next thought was that sand, because of its weight, cannot rise very high and that probably there was a limit beyond which not a single grain could rise. Deliberating in this way, I decided to find out about this hypothetical limit.
‘For this purpose, I ordered here in the village a specially high, folding stepladder, and with two camels and a driver set off into the desert. After one day’s journey I was preparing to camp for the night, when a wind suddenly rose, and within an hour the storm had become so violent that it was impossible to remain stationary and even to breathe owing to the sand in the air.
‘With great difficulty we began to set up the ladder I had brought, and somehow, even making use of the camels, we steadied it as best we could and I climbed up. Can you imagine my astonishment when, at a height of no more than twenty-five feet, I found not a grain of sand in the air?