That’s the questi0n posed in the Washington Post, based on an interview with a noted European scientist.

The shaft in question would have a circumference of “between 700 to 1,000 feet,” with ironclad walls, probably located on the Hungarian Steppe.  It would be the result of the work of at least five million men who would “dig down to the center of the earth according to plans marked out by a committee of the greatest of the world’s scientists and practiced workers” — all the way down, “3,982 miles below sea level.”

Getting the shaft will bring enormous benefits, the scientist says:

Little as we know about the bowels of the earth, there is no doubt that they boast of an inexhaustible heat supply that ought to be subjugated and made to do work for the good of the human race.  We are sometimes told that in many years the world’s coal, wood, iron, etc., supplies will give out. They will, there can be no manner of doubt about it. Therefore I say: Dig to the center of the earth for new supplies: dig now. Do not wait until the coal, wood and iron famines are upon us.

Fascinating.  There’s no telling what one might find down there. Even if the idea does not prove practicable, it might provide a basis for one of those newfangled talking moving pictures addressing whether tunneling down to the center of the earth might have any negative consequences.

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the article involves the European scientist’s concern about what might be termed a European “mine-shaft gap” —  the prospect that the Americans, not the Europeans, will move more quickly to seize the day and get the shaft.  As to this concern, the scientist confesses:

Every morning when I open my daily paper I am afraid to find some such headline as:  “Carnegie appropriated hundred million to drive a shaft to the center of the earth.” Or Rockefeller or Mr. Morgan or some other money king from the other side of the Atlantic did, and I ask myself: “Are men of the older civilization to leave this task of digging into the bowels of the earth to America, on account of her overwhelming wealth and the vast engineering capacities of her people?”

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