Friday, April 3, 2009

Drill A Hole All The Way To China? Lies! LIES, I tell you!

This has been covered by so many blogs and websites already that I feel so unoriginal talking about it.

If you live in the Western Hemisphere, you are more than likely aware of the myth that if you dig a hole in the ground deep enough, you'll wind up in China. These days, people are more apt to say that the economy is sinking so fast that it's going to dig a hole to China. I have no idea how that myth may have gotten started. Maybe kids back in the old days were so hard up for entertainment that they dug holes as a hobby and a set of parents came up with the myth as a form of encouragement. For that matter, I wonder if they had something similar in China. Maybe Chinese children were told that if they dug a hole deep enough, they'd end up in New Jersey.

Not that it really matters, because the deeper you dig, the higher temperatures and pressures you encounter. Not to mention the quirky gravity effects that would occur if you managed to reach the Earth's core. The deepest hole ever dug was only about 7.5 miles deep and took nearly 25 years to dig. Known as The Kola Superdeep Borehole (which sounds like a decently plotted porn title), it only penetrated into a fraction of the Earth's continental crust which ranges from 12 to 50 miles deep. Consequently, the Earth had to keep asking "Is it inside me yet?".

Anyway, suppose you COULD successfully drill a hole through the Earth's crust. Where would you end up? China? Not unless you were digging somewhere around Chile or Argentina. If you're digging in the continental United States, make sure to take along some diving gear, because you'll end up in the Indian Ocean. How do I know? There are a number of sites that can find the antipode of any point on the globe. The most user friendly version I have seen can be found at:

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