Returning from a uranium-prospecting jaunt in the barren countryside of Queens land, Australia one day last month a jeepload of weekend prospectors bogged down in a creek. Four got out to push while a fifth, Timberman Norman McConachie, idly strolled along the creek bank with a Geiger counter. He spotted a promising rock and put his counter to it. The needle jiggled up to 2,500 on the dial. With darkness falling, the five went home to the little mining town of Mount Isa. Three days later they were back, with three others, to check thoroughly on nearby rocks.

One boulder...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!