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Unpopular Ideas

Ramblings and Digressions from out of left field, and beyond....

Location: Piedmont of Virginia, United States

All human history, and just about everything else as well, consists of a never-ending struggle against ignorance.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

A Drama in Chile

That is really a situation in Chile, concerning 33 miners who are trapped 2,300 feet under a mountain so deeply and thoroughly  that it may take up to four months to haul them out of there!   Yet there's some good news,   One is that at least they're in good contact with the rest of the world, enough so that video shots can be seen of them, and by now maybe people up top have even drilled a hole down to them to get them some eats, drink, and something to read.

Also rescuers are hard at work dragging some modern monsters of machines up to the site, a tough undertaking in itself.   Plan "A" involves an enormously heavy machine  called a "raise drill," made by a company in South Africa.   But it takes a while to get it up[ there and  in place, and they have to make a lot of computer calculations beforehand to make sure the drill bit will come out at just the right spot with almost nothing to spare.   Also first they have to drill a little pilot hole 5 or 6 inches wide all the way down, and then put the raise drill to work reaming out that hole to a width enough to send down a rescue capsule called a "bullet," with which they can haul up one man at a time, at a rate of 15 minutes per man.

And meanwhile they have to think about all the rock they're drilling through and chewing up, hoping that the former stays reasonably solid all the way and that the latter, once the reamer gets close to the bottom, doesn't fall down into the space containing the miners or collapse the rock above the miners.

Such a rescue has already been done successfully in the U.S., but not on the same scale.   In the U.S. one they only had to drill through 74 meters, which is already much more than deep enough.   But the miners in Chile are 700 meters deep under the mountain, and that little fact tends to exaggerate all the other difficulties.    And that's why those miners are looking at spending so much time down under there, in addition to what they've already endured.   The rockfalls that trapped them happened on the 5th of this month, but it was not till a week ago that their location was discovered..

Plan "B" is to widen an existing tunnel that might cut that time down to only two months.   

Check out the map that is shown in the article cited above.   The incredibly zig-zag-looking route down must have been an epic trek or ride to get out of there every day.   And how did they get all the gold and copper ore out in the first place?

  Everything about this mishap boggles the mind.  There must be easier ways to get hold of copper, and the gold could just as well have been left in there.
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Blogger LeftLeaningLady said...

There is also concern about CO2 Toxicity and the monitoring of inhalation and exhalation. The place where I work has been asked to chime in on this issue and to help determine the best ways to keep them safe and alive throughout this ordeal. (I work with really smart people!)

My heart breaks for them and I am keeping them close in my thoughts.

12:01 PM  
Blogger Carl (aka Sofarsogoo) said...

That's interesting,Lady. Using another passage whose diameter I haven't seen yet in the reports, they've been passing through to them various articles that I would think would require some space, so maybe that helps a lot with the air problems.

The big problem I've been thinking about a lot is the psychological one.I can imagine all sorts of stresses that probably still don't even approach the real ones.

12:37 AM  

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