Geophysics: How to Break the Crust and Come Back Again

While Physicist William Mansfield Adams was working at the atomic Energy Commission's Livermore laboratory in California, he heard a lot about Project Mohole, and he did not believe what he heard. Mohole's goal is to drill through the earth's crust to see what the earth below is made of, and Adams questioned whether conventional drilling methods could reach much deeper than five miles, one-quarter of the desired distance. The doubting physicist worked out a radically different scheme for doing the job.

Adams' crust piercer, which he patented and assigned to the AEC, is a high-temperature nuclear reactor designed to melt its...

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