Bang's big theory

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"Water must be here," said Dr. Vu Van Bang.

He said it simply, with confidence. He had faith in the device he was holding, one that he had devised himself after what he says is 15 years of geological research in Poland. The device measures what he calls magnetic geo-radiation, enabling the divining of water.

Bang was standing with his hand-held device and pointing to a spot in Suoi Rao Village of Chau Duc District in Ba Ria-Vung Tau Province. The drilling team leader and his co-worker, Pham Van Tuyen, was skeptical.

To drill or not to drill. The team debated the question seriously, because the drilling cost was high at a million dong (US$50) per meter. Finally, Bang was given the benefit of the doubt.

At 6.5m deep, the drill twist hit a layer of bedrock that was very hard to break through. "Let's stop here," Tuyen suggested, "we can do nothing more."

Everybody looked at investor Dr. Truong Thanh Cong, director of Ba Ria-Vung Tau's Department of Science and Technology, who'd approved a project worth VND400 million ($20,000) to look for water sources in water-deficient areas in the province using the "geo radiation method."

The drilling work continued. At 63 meters deep, a stream of muddy water unexpectedly sprung out. Everyone was sweating. Was there enough? At 71 meters, there were joyous whoops as water gushed forth at 7m3/hour.

Bang's faith in his hand-held device was vindicated, this time.

But this was no ordinary water divining device, the geologist asserted. It could tell that the distance from the earth's surface to the underground water source was above 60 meters, that its maximum depth was 75 m, and that its flow was over 5m3/hour.

Dr. Bang demonstrates his device at a conference in Hanoi last year

The geologist said that since 2002, he had found 98 water springs in 101 drillings in 29 cities and other localities in Vietnam. A year earlier, he had set up Tia Dat (Geo-radiation) Company to put his device to good use.

Bang said the device was a machine that records secondary automatic electromagnetic fields that indicate the characteristics of underground objects and flows.

"There is a close relationship between underground flow and earth rays (geo-radiation). So, this method can help save a lot of time and money in searching for water supply sources for the community. Instead of spending thousands of dollars and many days, for just $50 and five to seven minutes, we can determine accurately the position and the depth of the water source."

Bang said the knowledge of georadiation can be applied in many fields, including exploring for mineral, oil and gas.

Asked about the device being used to overexploit scarce underground water resources, Bang told Thanh Nien Weekly that Vietnam has tapped just 20 percent of the groundwater in the country. More than 70 percent of groundwater in remote and mountainous areas has not been exploited, he said.

"Vietnam doesn't lack water, we lack fresh water because of pollution, intrusion of salty water and weather changes."

His device will help find out not where the water is but also where it comes from and where it goes, so that people can make long-term plans to use it, Bang said. For instance, it can help the government survey water supply sources in a large area and formulate long-term plans to use it properly, he added.

Fengshui explained

Geo-radiation even offers a scientific explanation for fengshui practices, Bang said.

It can explain why people living in a certain place get sick easily or don't sleep well as they are (disturbed by harmful earth rays or negative energy fields). It can even determine why some places like the Phap Van-Cau Gie expressway in Hanoi are highly accident-prone, he claimed.

"The earth rays at the portion where many accidents occur from the 188km to 195km mark, are very strong, as compared with other places in the same road," he said.

Bang also offers solutions. He has advised certain homes with "excessive earth rays" to place a basket of activated charcoal at strategic spots as an ameliorating factor.

Dr. Bang demonstrates his device at a conference in Hanoi last year

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