Lake Baikal is the world's biggest, oldest and deepest lake (nice clear snappy statement to drag them in). Many are entranced by its mysteries, which may even include the origins of the universe. Extravagantly-dressed shamans, laconic Buddhist monks and Orthodox 'Old Believers' as well as leading international scientists who explore the region's secrets, both above and below water. The ancient local beliefs have grown around the placid lake and its serene surroundings. Supernatural, or as the scientist puts it, "an intricate combination of exceptional natural factors"?