Science: Man-Made Inferno

Every year, millions of tons of coal are laboriously mined (at costs averaging $2.50 a ton), dumped into ovens and distilled, producing gas. For 80 years, scientists have been thinking of producing the gas without bothering to mine the coal. Lenin, picking up a British suggestion, wanted to try it in Russia. Since his death the Russians claim to have produced this kind of cheap power in many places.

Last week, the first big U.S. experiment with the process got under way at the Alabama Power Co.'s Gorgas mine, 55 miles northwest of Birmingham. (A small-scale test at the same site two...

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