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# Dig up the Earth's core

It's not doing anyone any good down there!
 (+20, -9) [vote for, against]

We humans are so far back in the dark ages, operating nasty mines, damaging property values and destroying pristine forests. The obvious solution is to go for the big enchilada and dig out the Earth's core! A consortium of companies would set up in a remote desert region such as the Sahara and dig it out.

The Chunnel, heck, that's peanuts. The cost of digging up the core, a measly \$500 quadrillion. Now do the math. The value of the nickel alone at \$3.51/kg at 9180 kg/m^3 equals \$2615/m^3 or \$1.7**10^19 per km^3. The core is 60 billion km^3, consisting of 4% nickel, which yields a total value of \$4**10^28, or \$4 thousand trillion trillon dollars. Now set up some OPEC-like consortium to match market price with demand. Invest a single dollar in this project, and come payday you'd have Bill Gates coming over every Wednesday to scrub your toilet!

This doesn't even factor in the economic benefits. Desert countries would reap a fortune in tourist dollars as people flock from all over the world to see the 1500-mile ball of metal.

And we haven't even considered all the iron in the core yet!

 — timvasquez, Apr 16 2001

Neo-Idaho http://www.halfbakery.com/idea/Neo-Idaho
A place where everyone knows your rank ... [Aristotle, Apr 16 2001, last modified Oct 04 2004]

Start a Dyson sphere with it http://www.d.kth.se...1-asa/dysonFAQ.html
Don't store it on Earth; peel off into orbit! Land ho! [hello_c, Apr 16 2001, last modified Oct 06 2004]

(?) Autonome link no. 1 http://static.spiri.../Images/Agharta.gif

Look!! It's right here! \/ \/ How easy is that? [yamahito, Sep 02 2002, last modified Oct 06 2004]

And it wouldn't be all that hard to bring it up since, the core is at the center of the earth and therefore weightless!
 — centauri, Apr 16 2001

After Bill Gates cleans my toilet...heehee...will he clean My Windows?
 — thumbwax, Apr 17 2001

Sweeping vision! A few trifling barriers to overcome, like magma currents, intense heat and pressure, etc, but I say piffle to difficulties! Let's start drilling. In YOUR backyard.
 — Dog Ed, Apr 17 2001

I know this is a joke (yes, I've got both eyes open), but where did you get the \$500 quadrillion figure? I'm not sure what it even means to talk about prices four orders of magnitude greater than the gross world product.
 — egnor, Apr 17 2001

 While we're on the topic of the impossible, why not alter Earth's orbit by mining nickel?

Set up a high [HIGH! {HIIIIGH!!!!}] powered vacuum to suck out all the liquid core. Then eject it at the escape velocity into space. Point Earth in the direction we want, and away we go!
 — Wes, Apr 17 2001

great way to screw up literally EVERY compass on earth. as well as make gravity pull diagonally for most of us.
 — tkeyser, Apr 17 2001

I hate to introduce economics into such a sublime picture (especially the BG bit) but dumping that much metal onto the comodities markets will cause the price to collapse, instantly rendering it almost worthless. Shipping costs would more than consume any profit you hope to make from the venture. Also, what's to stop this big ball of metal from just rolling away?
 — DrBob, Apr 17 2001

Heck, use some of the metal to make joists to stop the Earth caving in, then recoup the costs by sending tourists down the hole on a "Journey to the Centre of the Earth"!
 — Lemon, Apr 17 2001

DrBob, you missed the bit where timvasquez specified an "OPEC-like consortium" to manage the supply vs. demand and make sure there's enough scarcity to make a profit.
 — wiml, Apr 17 2001

wiml. True, but irrelevant. With a mountain of metal that big, the only way they could control the price is by setting up a massively expensive security cordon around it and then not using any of it (or comparitively little anyway). Which sort of defeats the object really.
 — DrBob, Apr 18 2001

wiml, in addition to DrBob's argument, there's also the problem that, to maintain current metals prices, you'd have to keep consumption rates near where they are now (assuming no increase in demand). So you'd only be able to receive small amounts of the payoff in a given year. I'm too lazy do the math, but I bet the finance charges on the \$500 quadrillion would far outweigh any income you could realize in a year without eroding prices.
 — beauxeault, Apr 18 2001

...and then add storage costs on top.
 — DrBob, Apr 18 2001

<science pedant> About a hollow Earth not collapsing: Rocky objects above a particular minimum size become spheres (or oblate spheres if they rotate fast enough). Something to do with the structural integrity of rock. Small asteroids can look like potatoes or Mel Brooks' nose, but large ones (like Ceres) have to be spheres. Sorry, a hollow Earth could be useful.
 — Dog Ed, Apr 18 2001

I like this idea because of its mad scientist angle. Sometimes crazy ideas are just too good to criticise due to their lack of feasability. Besides once you remove the earth's core you potentially have more living space, for Neo-Idaho prehaps.
 — Aristotle, Apr 18 2001

Wes' idea for using a super power vacuum makes sense. Suck out the core and blow it high over the ocean. Brilliant displays, night and day. All kinds of solidified metal strings and pipes and cymbals clattering and pealing down into the deep sea. That's the place because it's so big down there it will never fill up.
 — reensure, Apr 18 2001

If you did that, the earth would freeze, all the tourists would die, and nothing but your money could save you, and even that wouldn't help! The core keeps our planet's ability to preserve life, after all!
 — archanine59, Apr 19 2001

well the earthes core is doing us a lot of good!!! because the earthes core id practicly liquid metal, its very conductive. From some reason (smth about the earth roatation), electricity is running through the core, creating the earths magnetic field, which protects ud from solar wind (not like the ozone), and all kind of other nasty things!!
 — Icarus, Apr 21 2001

If you took out the core and lived on the inside of the spining sphere (gravity from certrifugal force) you would be protected from the radiation by the massive amounts of rock. In fact if you kept the core between the earth and the sun we wouldnt have to worry at all...
 — RobertKidney, Jun 21 2001

Or convert some of the metals into a giant 'cage' (a la Tesla) to ward of that mean old solar wind...
 — phoenix, Jul 24 2001

Why not just take the core out of the moon and sell that. I mean it may have no value other then the fact that it is the core of the moon but I am sure if you built a theme park around the big rock, people would go. You could have all kinds of cool rides, plus you could let people go and chisel off their very own piece of space.
 — Vavon, Jul 25 2001

Another up side to digging out the earths core would obviously be that you would forever stop those irritating valcanos. Then on the other side if the earth has no core there is a great potential for North to South / East to West subways to reduce traveling cost, with a Hell theme park in the middle. Then why stop there, the inside of earth could house plenty of people, we can double the earth's population without the worry of space to live... away with contrseptives.
 — thinck, Jul 26 2001

Sounds like a risky business to me and what would happen to the earth if we removed the core? Would something very bad hapeen and then where would you be dead without money. I think a risk assesment is a good idea first.
 — Monkeyboy2, Jul 26 2001

<geologist> I'm sorry to burst your bubble, [thinck], but the deepest source of volcanoes is the d-double-prime layer, which isn't even halfway through the mantle. And there is no way you could write a solid business plan for mining the core, because no-one knows what it's made of yet. Mainly Oxygen and Sulphur, we've no idea what types and quantites of metals might be in there. Fun though.
 — lewisgirl, Jul 26 2001

[lewisgirl] Wouldn't it stop those nasty magma plumes, though? OK, we haven't had any in a while, but I've seen the alarmist Horizon/Equinox programs and I really don't fancy having a new continent arrive unexpectedly. In fact, if we moved inside, we'd have shelter from the next mass-extinguishing ("extinctioning"?) meteorite that - according to the Cassandras - is due any day now. And then there's the tsunamis and hurricanes and, and, and... <goes off to hide under the bed away from sensationalist science television>
 — Guy Fox, Jul 26 2001

Sorry Vavon, but if we grabbed the moon's core then that would increase the mass of the earth and hence it's gravitational pull on the moon, which would come spiralling down out of it's orbit and crash into us. Of course, if we mined the whole lot in one go then that would eliminate that particular problem. We might get some interesting weather as a result though.
 — DrBob, Jul 26 2001

I think the idea of no more tides might be cool, but I guess that would beg the question, would the tides be left at high, low, or stagnent medium
 — Vavon, Jul 26 2001

All this talk about the earth's core. Have any of you seen a photograph of it? No, we've all seen the animated pictures illustrating that there's molten nickel down there. I don't think that there's molten nickel down there and to my knowledge there's no real evidence that flat out screams molten lava either. Perhaps if you all made me supreme ruler of the earth, we could find out.
 — talamunda, Jul 27 2001

 This idea is more than 30 years old. If I recall right, the appropriate book to read is "Earthlight", by Arthur C. Clarke.

 The book mostly features mining the Moon's core (which is now known to be vastly smaller than was suspected in the 1960s), but I think tapping the Earth's core was mentioned, too.

P.S. ALL the heavy metals are concentrated in the core. There's gold, platinum, iridium, osmium, rhenium, tungsten, and lots of other stuff down there, BUT it also includes toxic stuff like lead and bismuth, and radioactive stuff like uranium and thorium, and their decay products. Those last items are the fundamental continuing source of heat that powers volcanoes and plate tectonics (and keeps the core liquid). Do note that if we turned off that heat, then in about 100 million years the process of erosion will have washed all the continents into the oceans.
 — Vernon, Jul 31 2001

What are you people talking about? The Earth is flat -- there is no core. Duh.
 — PotatoStew, Aug 01 2001

 Vernon: Actually, most of the radioactive elements responsible for the heat of the Earth are concentrated in the crust. The temperature of the upper part of the Earth's crust increases by 30 degrees C for every kilometre that you descend. Since the Earth's radius is about 6400km, this would give a core temperature of 192,000 degrees C if we extrapolated linearly. In fact the core is only at about 4700 degrees C. The four main heat producing isotopes (Thorium 232, Uranium 235, Uranium 238 and Potassium 40) all go preferentially into melts rather than staying in crystals. They are therefore concentrated in rocks that have solidified from melts previously extracted from the mantle, which is what the crust is made of.

The fact that the temperature continues to rise as you approach the core is simply because heat generated in the crust is lost through radiation outwards, as with any hot body.
 — gravelpit, Aug 01 2001

 Also, the inner core is solid, not liquid but only by virtue of the gigantic pressures down there. As soon as you try to bring it to the surface, it would liquify. As you did so, the liquid outer core would flow down to fill in the gap. As you take more and more of the core out, the mantle would start to slide inwards too and since the crust floats on the top of the mantle it would be deformed downwards.

 Eventually, you'd have a crust that was wrinkled into huge mountain ranges and ocean troughs, like a giant raisin. On top of this you would have a layer of liquid nickel/iron that would cover the earth to a depth of... lets see... 125km by my reckoning. I'm fairly sure this would extinguish all life on earth.

Nevertheless I'm still giving this a croissant because I like a man who is prepared to think big and damn the business case.
 — gravelpit, Aug 01 2001

reensure - going back to the idea of a giant vacuum cleaner sucking out the core, purely for display purposes. The vacuum could simply be reversed, returning the core to it's original location after the event - hey presto! satisfied tourists, nickel markets intact, and the globe safe from collapse. Maybe we could make it a yearly event
 — stupop, Aug 01 2001

[gravelpit]'s description of the construction of the earth neglects to mention the meringue.
 — angel, Aug 01 2001

Hmm you know if we removed the core magnetism may no longer work and maybe the Earth won't correctly orbit the Sun and even go off orbit and we will all die.
 — Monkeyboy2, Aug 02 2001

I think it'd be a laugh, we could mould it into a sphere and kinda display it like some kind of intergalactic elastic band ball. Imagine the scenes on Quagnar 9: Quagtoid No 1:hey they've got a bigger central planet core than us! Quagtoid 2: Well maybe now we should go over and talk to them, and see if we can discuss swapsies? Quagtoid 1: Yeah. Do we still have that giant mars bar from the Flectron 7 swap?
 — kaz, Sep 01 2001

Again? I thought we dug up the Earth's core last month!?
 — gorn_the_great, Sep 02 2001

If we dig up the core, the Oceans will leak into the hole, the continents with float on the interior lake and stabilze into a pleasant rocking sort of arrangement, and we will all sleep much better. Two ears and a croissant.
 — Poimandres, Sep 10 2001

...and then, once the core's been dug up, we can fill the void with helium and let our world drift off to strange new places. Or not.
 — NickTheGreat, Jul 03 2002

 Brilliant! Really. And quite do-able using nuclear bombs to move all that excess fill between the surface and the core itself. But the devil is always in the details. There is one single extraneous factor that is the critical error and downfall of the whole plan- the tides. The tides and the moon's orbit would get all messed up due to the gravitational effects of the mountain of mine products about 10,000 miles across at the base.

Were it not for that, I'm sure someone would have already tried it.
 — Autonome, Sep 02 2002

 Actually- scratch all that nuclear business. That's crazy. I just found out all that could never work. Turns out the Earth has been hollow all along. All the planets are, and there is another sun inside too-

and if we started blasting the flying saucers would get all pissed and fly out after us... Hey- can you disprove it?
 — Autonome, Sep 02 2002

 — bristolz, Sep 03 2002

I tried digging up the Earth's core when I was 6 years old. My mother told me to put it back. Somehow, I suspect if I try it again, someone will tell me to put it back again.
 — whlanteigne, Oct 05 2002

 Maybe you could set the Earth spinning faster to reduce the pressure then start drilling from the poles.

Given about 5000 years we could make the planet into a giant loop.
 — Alphaman, Oct 23 2002

<UnaBubba>: what a brilliant idea...except that I don't think that's what Tolkien meant by "Middle Earth"... But shall we digress into all THAT in a different place, LOL?
 — merrymerry, Mar 19 2003

Another benefit would an end to the threat of flooding from global warming, all the excess water from the melting of antartica could be channeled into the void left after all the mining of all that nickle.
 — Sirbeefyness, May 09 2004

 Impossible, of course. But related to an 'impossible physics question' of mine:

 Suppose you could dig a hole to the center of the earth and keep it open. Assume it is adiabatic.

 Air rushes in and eventually equilibrates. What is the air pressure at the center?

 Note: no ideal-gas assumptions. What is needed is a ROBUST equation-of-state for air. I can write the equation of hydrostatics easily. I just have no way to work out the density as a function of radius.

 Any ideas? Any genius takers?

--Boris
 — boris, May 09 2004

 [Boris] - it seems to me that if the hole cleanly perforated the earth, right thru the middle, you could discount the presence of the earth since the gravitational forces would cancel out. The pressure at the center would be the same as the pressure of a cylinder of gas the size of the earth + atmosphere.

Also, if your hole is adiabatic, don't let any sweets fall into it.
 — bungston, May 10 2004

[Poimandres] "If we dig up the core, the Oceans will leak into the hole". Then the molten magma would heat the oceans - natural hot water for all!Hopefully the temperature would calibrate to a nice 35C, otherwise we might find a large serving of unwanted fish soup on our hands.
 — proto13, May 10 2004

 No way.

 Ever seen the movie "Core"

 Wierd movie, but the fact really is, eithout the earths core, no more magnetic field, hello solar radiation.

Count me out!
 — DesertFox, May 10 2004

what about gravity, or a lack thereof?
 — politiquefiction, May 10 2004

Where do you put all of the dirt? I imagine that the dig would create enough rock and fill dirt to build another continent in the middle of the ocean somewhere.
 — Jscotty, Jan 11 2006

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