Travel to the Earth's center

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Earth cutaway from core to exosphere. Partially to scale

Travel to the Earth's center, though not considered possible with today's technology, is a popular theme in science fiction. Some subterranean fiction involves travel to the Earth's center, either finding a Hollow Earth or the Earth's molten core.

Though no scientists have seriously proposed travel to the Earth's center, planetary scientist David J. Stevenson suggested sending a probe to the core as a thought experiment.[1][2] So far, the deepest humans have drilled is just over 12 kilometers (7.62 miles), in the Kola Superdeep Borehole,[3] which is just 0.1875% of the Earth's radius.


Hollow Earth

A "Hollow Earth" belief posits that the planet Earth has a hollow interior and probably a habitable inner surface. At one time, adventure literature made this idea popular. The scientific community dismisses it as pseudoscience – but it remains a popular feature of many fantasy and science fiction stories, and is an explanation used for conspiracy theories.

In science fiction

Most famous was Jules Verne's 1864 science fiction novel A Journey to the Center of the Earth.

The 2003 film The Core concerns a team that has to drill to the center of the Earth and detonate a series of nuclear explosions in order to restart the rotation of Earth's core. It was based loosely on the novel Core. The vehicle used in the movie was a snake-like drill, dubbed Virgil, equipped with a powerful laser drill, a small nuclear reactor for power, a shell (of "unobtainium", a fictional material) to protect against the intense heat and pressure (and generate energy to drive the engine), a powerful x-ray camera for viewing outside, and a system of impellers for movement and control. The only part of the earth that was hollow was a geode covered in crystals and surrounded by empty space, yet soon after moving through this area, it filled with magma as a result of a hole created by the drill.

In the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon, the season three Technodrome is located at the Earth's core, and transport modules are used to drill up to the streets. Season three also features the episode "Turtles at the Earth's Core", with a deep underground cave where dinosaurs live, and a crystal of energy that works like the Sun to keep the dinosaurs alive. As Krang, Shredder, Bebop and Rocksteady steal the crystal to power the Technodrome, the trouble begins.[4]

Don Rosa's 1995 Uncle Scrooge story The Universal Solvent[5] constructs a way of travel to the planet's core using 1950s technology, albeit on a completely impossible basis. The titular solvent condenses everything but diamonds into super-dense dust. When spilled, it bores a spherical shaft into the center of the planet. A recovery effort uses a makeshift platform that descends in free fall, then using an electric motor and wheels as it approaches zero gravity, then using rocket engines on the ascent. Rosa goes into great detail of the journey: the structure of the Earth is illustrated, the shaft is kept in a vacuum as several thousand kilometers of atmosphere would be lethal, the ducks are forced to wear space suits, fast for days, and are not entirely certain that the super-dense heat shield will hold. At the same time the author maintains continuity with Carl Barks, so earthquakes are created by spherical Fermies and Terries.

In Tales to Astonish #2 (1959) "I Fell to the Center of the Earth", archaeologist Dr. Burke, while on an expedition to Asia, travels to the center of the Earth where he finds neanderthals and dinosaurs. It turns out that he also travelled back in time.

See also

Deep drilling projects


  1. ^ Stevenson, David (15 May 2003). "Planetary science: Mission to Earth's core - a modest proposal". Nature 423 (6937): 239–240. doi:10.1038/423239a. PMID 12748631. 
  2. ^ Noble, Ivan (14 May 2003). "Plumbing the Earth's depths". BBC News. Retrieved 23 February 2008. 
  3. ^ Eagleson, Mary (1994). Concise Encyclopedia Chemistry. Walter de Gruyter. p. 799. ISBN 3-11-011451-8. 
  4. ^ Ninjaturtles – "Turtles at the Earth's Core"
  5. ^ Inducks