I have several pictures attesting to Badwater Basin’s claim to fame. That’s my brother Chris holding up the sign at Death Valley’s number one visitor attraction. Hey, it's government work; he likes it!
Today’s Badwater Basin, all 8,000 feet of gravel, sand, and mud, attests to geologists’ theories regarding the key role those lakes played in creating this natural wonder.
As the water evaporates, it leaves behind fresh, re-crystalized salts atop the slurry of mud in a honeycombed pattern. As a former geometry teacher, I’m here to attest, this is Mother Nature at her finest and most efficient. The 120 degree angles in a regular hexagon allow for maximum volume with minimum surface area, i.e. the most energy-efficient formation for a given shape. I tend to agree with Galileo. The astronomer, mathematician, and philosopher concluded, “Mathematics is the alphabet with which God wrote the universe.” Amen.
The day of my visit, I concluded that mankind had intervened, tromping any and all evidence of honeycombs since the last significant rainfall. There was evidence of a small pool of water, apparently the catalyst for the name, Badwater Basin. As the story goes, one of the first prospectors to arrive in Death Valley dubbed the permanent source of fresh water "bad water" when his donkey refused to drink the briny liquid.
That same puddle is the designated lowest point in the Valley (remember? 282 feet below sea level), although actually, that distinction lies somewhere out there in the salt flats, where few were inclined to wander.