Engineering: Getting There the Hot Way

Taking leave of their own problems for a while, five nuclear scientists at the Atomic Energy Commission's Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory were discussing the difficulties of Project Mohole, the National Science Foundation's plan to bore through six miles of the earth's crust northeast of Hawaii. What kind of drill would stand up to the job?

The talk turned to molybdenum, which is not the hardest metal known to man but has the advantage of not even beginning to melt at temperatures up to 4,700°F. Eventually the atom experts decided to put their drilling theories to a test; they constructed a...

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