At night, the camp was ablaze with lights.
Exhausted after a long flight and the following trek across the mountains, the team managed to stay excited until this hour thanks to the new discovery and their craving for knowledge.
On the south bank, inside the laboratory, researchers sat around and a specialist was announcing test results from their experiments earlier that day. Gu Yu was among the crowd, listening carefully to his words.
"The strange fish is indeed a variant of the snakehead. We have taken samples from twenty individuals and obtained some data. The fish were of a length between 20 to 50 cm. The head took up about half of its body length. Two rows of teeth—along both upper and lower jaws—were found in the mouth and they were thick, long, and sharp. Preliminary estimation is that the bite force is equivalent to that of the black piranha—the strongest among fish—and about 30 times of its weight.
Their habits have remained unchanged. They are omnivorous and extremely ferocious. When starved, they would even turn on their own kind. Reproduction wise, their sexual glands mature incredibly slowly, which indicates a long breeding cycle. We happened to have caught a female fish this time, which had a fecundity of around 7000—much lower than any other kind of fish. From our perspective, it's a blessing, for the fish would otherwise have reached beyond the boundary of the river to the waters outside these mountains. The effect would be destructive to the ecosystem… As for the flesh of the fish, well, we can only tell if it is poisonous or not. We'll need Mr. Gu's help for the specifics."
After a lengthy introduction, he suddenly switched the subject and turned to our fellow.
Gu Yu winced. A female researcher then showed up with a tray—on it was a serving of sashimi and a bowl of fish soup. Time for a treat.
"Xiao Gu, before you eat, I need to introduce a concept to you, namely the reactivity of spiritual essence."
Qiu Guan adjusted his glasses and went on. "The density is the number we give to spiritual essence itself. The degree of reactivity is the number we measure when the spiritual essence takes its effect on other substances. You can just think of it as how much active spiritual essence is in it."
"Ok, I see."
Gu Yu did not give much thought and ate a piece of the raw flesh under the watchful eyes of the crowd. It was smooth, tender and refreshing. He couldn't help but praising, "That was delicious!"
He than ate another piece.
"Could you be a bit more serious and focus on the data rather than eating?" The female researched had to remind him.
Despite his assent, he went on to eat his third and forth pieces. There was indeed a faint fluctuation of spiritual essence in the flesh of the fish, but it had no effect on him at all. But for ordinary people, especially those with poor health, it might be too much for them to handle.
"I'll use this as the benchmark and make it 1."
Putting down the chopsticks, he turned to the soup and gave it a sip. "It's slightly weaker, but the difference is negligible. We can also make it 1."
"Please be more precise, if that's possible. It can be in decimal numbers," suggested a specialist.
"Well, I'll give it a 0.7 or 0.8, then," Gu Yu replied after giving it some thought.
Qiu Guan gave his assistant a look; seeing that the latter had finished recording, he gestured the speaker to proceed.
"The original species of this plant should be the leopard plant, a weed commonly found in the south part of out country, whose base leaves are 9 to 13 cm in length and 11 to 22 cm in width. This particular plant, however, has a length of 20 cm and a width of 30 cm, both abnormally larger. The shape of its base leaves have also changed slightly; they have linked together and formed a rosette. In traditional medicine, it is said to be heat-clearing and detoxifying, as well as heal injuries from falls, fractures, contusions and strains. Now that it's mutated, we'll need further studies on its medicinal effect."
After that, the speaker handed Gu Yu the leopard plant. He sensed it and thought it over. "It should be somewhere around 0.5."
He had tested two objects so far. The third one was a twig from a tree, which was also a 0.5. The fourth piece was a lump of mud scooped up from the bottom of the river, which he gave a 1.
Those were nothing strange—what came up next was only getting weirder. In the end, they even brought in a living chicken and asked him to give a number with a precision to the decimal point.
Gu Yu was having a headache, but not as much as the scientists were!
There was no other way! Modern technology was useless in detecting the spiritual essence and they had to run indirect tests on things the spiritual essence affected, such as measuring their physical, chemical, and biological properties. The truly valuable outcome lay in the effect they had on cultivators and this man was the only person that could answer that.
Gu Yu tested as many as over twenty substances one at a time, followed by detailed records. After the prolonged foreplay, the last but the most important sample was finally brought in—the chunk of stone they carved out of the cave.
Of course, it was only part of the chunk. The fist-sized stone had an unusual texture; even the surface of the cross-section was smooth and even.
"This is probably a variant of muscovite granite."
The speaker was uncertain. "We were unable to analyze its structural components and could only run some basic tests. It has a density of 2790 to 3070 kg/m^3, a compressive strength of 1000 to 3000 kg/cm^2, a water absorption rate of 0.13%, and the hardness of over HS 70. To sum up, the stone is very hard, corrosion-resistant, can stand tear and wear, and has a low water absorption rate. It is an…"
The expression on his face was a mixture of feelings. There was disappointment, confusion, and irritation in his voice as he said, "It's an excellent building material."
The crowd gazed at one another in utter bewilderment. The stonewall was the most conspicuous site within a radius of several kilometers. They all had such high hopes for it and now they were told it was a building material?
Qiu Guan showed no sign of being disturbed; he only turned his eyes to Gu Yu.
Gu Yu was very curious himself. He picked up the stone and secretly sensed the spiritual essence within. Almost instantaneously, his expression changed abruptly. He leapt to his feet, "Professor Qiu, we need to talk in private!"
The meeting was dismissed right away.
The rest of the team watched in bewilderment as those two left the lab and returned to Gu Yu's room. Qiu Guan was at a loss himself. "Xiao Gu, what do you want to talk about?"
Gu Yu did not give an answer, but replied with another question, "Professor Qiu, how are you going to develop this place?"
"A comprehensive development, of course."
"That's too general. What do you need the data for?"
"The reason is simple. Whenever a new substance is discovered, we need to figure out the rules it follows so as to put it into use. Therefore we need to establish a most basic database to calculate the average numbers."
Qiu Guan paused and went on, "In principle, with our advanced scientific technology, we could achieve effective exploitation of any new resources. But it's a different case with the spiritual essence you talked about. It belongs to a different system, where our technology is very constrained and we are disadvantaged in all aspects. All we can do is some general framework."
"Could you be more specific?"
"As you mentioned before, a small amount of controlled spiritual essence could only do human body good and even prolong life. In that case, we need to calculate the exact number. For instance, if the reactivity of the flesh of fish is 1, then is the edible level fit for ordinary people above or below 1? What's the feasible range? We must have the most accurate number and there is no room for mistakes. After we obtain the average numbers, we will extend it to utilization and keep filtering."
"Filtering?" Gu Yu was confused.
"You asked me about the development plan. Let me ask you a question: what do you think resources consist of?" Qiu Guan smiled.
"Lands, rivers, minerals, forests, the air—everything in this mountain is counted as resources."
"Haha, that's correct. And what we need to do is to transform them for our own benefit. That piece of soil you saw just then, for example, had a reactivity number of 1.3. Imagine that if we were to grow crops in it and harvest the grain—what would the number of those be? Would they be edible? If not, after we use the grain as seeds and plant them, then harvest again, the reactivity will definitely decrease. We will eventually obtain the level of reactivity we want. This process is called filtering."
Gu Yu was stunned. He had never thought about it that way.
It was not that he was stupid. Different individuals were at different intellectual levels and exposed to different amount of information, hence their different depths in viewing things. Specialists like Qiu Guan were considering the issue from the social ecology as a whole.
Qiu Guan had no intention to keep things hidden from Gu Yu. Despite being the minority shareholder in this project, Gu Yu held the key—the core technology. Their cooperation should be based on sincerity.
He went on, "And that was just the food. We also have other aspects that needs considering, such as that stone. Although it's only a common granite, do you have any idea how many minerals there are in this world?
Over four thousand as we know of and the number is increasing each year!
What will it change into if it is an iron ore?
What about a silver ore?
What about a gold ore?
What will different types of rocks turn into?
And there are those creatures. Can we achieve artificial breeding with those strange fish in the river while maintaining the reactivity of the spiritual essence in them so that we can have a steady flow of it? And the trees—the fruit trees, can we make it into a massively available fruit through grafting so that it can be put on the market?"
Looking into Gu Yu's eyes, Qiu Guan heaved a deep sigh, "Xiao Gu, it's not development; it's building a new world!"
Gu Yu was silent for a long while before he replied with a smile, "Professor Qiu, as much as I agree with most of the things you said, I need to remind you on two things.
For one, your wish is for everyone to be able to eat rice, but those upstairs might not share your view.
For another, this stone is anything but a common granite. It will become the most important basic resource for cultivators!"