Copyright 2016 Mario V. Farina
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“A brief announcement before my news conference,” Martin W. Arcos, President and CEO of Farther Out, a space technologies company, announced. The Mars project, Mars Out, which was started in January, is doing well. As you may recall, this project will run a two-rail cable track from Earth to Mars. When completed passengers, riding in modern, enclosed, luxurious cable cars, will be able to depart from Earth and land on Mars within a couple of months. It is expected that the cars we intend to use will be fully occupied during most of the time and yield much income to Farther Out. We are constructing the tracks that will be needed and storing them in our huge storage yard in Chicago. In addition, we are hiring qualified personnel to do the construction work in space.
“It is not known exactly how many of the fifty-foot railings will be needed. We have made and stored, at least, three hundred. Our mathematicians are working diligently on calculating the number of these units that will actually be needed.”
The news conference was being held in the auditorium of the city’s most prestigious high school. Present were reporters from several of the largest newspapers in the country. Also present, were a handful of the city’s most influential citizens.
“Today, I am announcing a new project,” he continued, “we are calling Mucho Deepo. The purpose of this project is to drill tunnels within the earth to link the major cities of the world. By connecting the cities via an underground system, the distances between them can be minimized. The first part of the project is to drill a tunnel from Chicago to Kunming, China. After the tunnel has been completed, rails will be installed in the tunnel which will accommodate the kinds of cable cars I’ve already mentioned. This project will begin as soon as the Mars Out is nearing completion There is an expectation of beginning sometime in November, this year.”
“The stock for our company, which was offered for the first time on January 2 for $100 per share, has declined in value somewhat. It is currently selling at two cents a share, but we expect the price to rise substantially when the drilling begins. At the current price, I’d like to point out what a marvelous investment this would be for anyone!”
“Because of time pressures, I will be able to answer only a few questions from the news reporters who are here today. Ms. Gayle Farmer from the Wall Street Journal is here. Ms. Farmer, would you ask your first question.”
“Mister Arcos,” Ms. Farmer began, “What will be the depth of the tunnel after it has been completed?
“That is yet to be determined,” Mr. Arcos responded. “As you know, the distance between New York City and San Francisco is quite long, perhaps one or two thousand miles. We realize that the tunnel will have to be, at least, that long, maybe twice as much. Therefore, even though we don’t know the exact length at this time, the best guess I can make is that it will be about 3000 miles.”
“I was expecting a much larger number. As a follow-up, Mr. Arcos, I would like to ask, are you prepared for the different kinds of substances that you will probably encounter as you drill that deep, deep tunnel?”
“We believe what we drill through will be the same kind of earth, rocks, sand and gravel that we see and walk upon every day. Maybe a little more gravel, maybe a little more rocky, but we don’t expect to encounter anything representing a major difference.”
“I’ve heard that the substances deep down underneath our feet gets warmer, then hotter, the farther workers go,” she commented. “Are you prepared in case it becomes very much more hot for the employees?”
“Not really. If necessary, we’ll install air-conditioning in the tunnel as we go so that the drilling will be comfortable for the workers. I don’t believe it’ll get hotter as we go deeper.”
“Believe me, it does! What will you be doing with the dirt, rocks, and other materials that you take out of the tunnel as you drill?”
“We have quite a bit of land behind our factory. I believe we can dump this stuff there. If we have a little more coming in than we have space for, we might try selling the excess has landfill.”
“Thank you Mr. Arcos. I think Mr. Wilber Fox of the New York Times would like to ask some questions.”
“Indeed I would,” Roger Fox stated. “Mr. Arcos, what can you tell us about the differences between the crust of the earth and the mantle? Will those differences cause a problem?”
“I’m not sure I fully understand your question,” Mr. Arcos replied. “All I know about crusts is what’s on bread. Mantles are what’s in living rooms. Can you clarify?”
“Yes, the part of the world we call the crust is the very top layer. It is something like twenty-five or thirty miles deep. The mantle, just below, which consists of a rocky material is about 1800 miles in depth. The mantle gets extremely hot, and I’m not sure that air-conditioning will be sufficient when you get down to about 2000 miles.”
“I can assure you, Mr. Fox, our engineers are thoroughly competent and creative. They can build whatever size air-conditioners are needed to take care of any situation.”
“As I understand it, there is a core under the mantle that is about another 1400 miles deep. There’s a material there consisting of iron and nickel, so hot that it’s in liquid form. This part of the earth is called the outer core. How do you propose to drill through a liquid material such as this?”
“I imagine we can handle any liquid we find. We’ll probably load the stuff in barrels and bring it up and put it in the yard with the other stuff we take out of the tunnel. We may need to drain the core. Or, we can just bypass it. Nothing will impede our drilling.”
“I don’t think you’ve answered some of my questions as well as you could have,” commented Mr. Fox. I now yield to Helen Madison of the San Francisco Chronicle.”
“Thank you very much, Mr. Fox,” Mr. Arcos said. Do you have questions, Ms. Madison?”
“Yes. Mr. Arcos,” she said. “I think it’s well-known that at the very center of the earth there is an inner core consisting of solid iron. This is exceedingly hot, hotter than anything we’ve discussed so far. In order to get through this material, you’ll have to go through hard metal, tremendous temperatures, and horrendous pressures. This core is over 750 miles in depth. Does this cause you any concern?”
“I’m glad you mentioned iron,” declared Mr. Arcos. I didn’t know that there is so much of it there. We may be able to use a lot of that to make the rails that we will be needing for the cable cars going to Mars; also for the rails inside the tunnels. I’m glad you told us about the this. I’ve heard steel is made from iron and we’ll surely need lot of steel as we go along.”
“How long did you say it would take for you to drill from one side of the earth to the other?”
“Well, I’m not sure I can give an exact figure, but I think we could probably get it done in a few weeks. We may need to put a double shift on for the inner core. The iron that you mentioned may be more difficult to work with than the hot rocks. I’d say two or three weeks on the outside.”
“And you’ll have a lot more tunnels to build after you drill this one?”
“Oh yes, we’ll have tunnels connecting from any large city to any other large city. There will be a sort of terminal in the center of the world where all cable cars will go, and they will be redirected from there to their final destinations. All of this will be computer-controlled. Our programmers will have their offices inside the terminal in case the computers have any problems. When we get rolling we should be able to connect a city a week.”
“And all the material you bring out, you’ll be able to store somewhere?”
“Yes, our warehouse yard is, at least, an acre in size.
“What kind of propulsion power will the cable cars use?”
“That’s where our genius comes to the fore. We will use gravity. You can see from the world globes they use in schools that everything can be directed downhill. But, as everyone knows, the earth is turning all the time. The cable cars will need to wait until the earth has turned just right so that they can go downhill from where they are to where they need to go.”
“In many cases, there will be a lot of waiting until the world tilts just right!”
“Ah, but the cable cars will have picture windows. The views out the windows will always be so extraordinary no one will be bored while waiting!”
“Mr. Winston is anxious to ask some questions. Go ahead, Tom.”
“Mr. Arcos,” said Thomas Winston. “I don’t want to ask any questions. What I want to do is tell you and the nation about what you have been saying. I’ve never heard the kind of drivel that you’ve been spouting. It’s clear you know nothing about space or the world we live in. All the foolishness you’ve been allowing to come out of your mouth is pure balderdash; that is baloney, garbage, twaddle, claptrap, hogwash. Whatever you say you’ll do is impossible and I believe you know it. I also believe your company was created to filch money from anyone who was fool enough buy your stock. Your stock is selling at two cents a share, but it’s actually worth zilch. I can’t listen to anymore of this kind of gibberish and am taking my leave now. I urge all the other reporters here to do likewise.”
He left the seat at which he had been sitting and walked up the long aisle to the exit. There was some hesitation from the other reporters, but all them, one at a time, joined the parade to the door. Mr. Arcos, stunned at the sudden attack, stood frozen in place like a statue.
Finally, he said, “I’m sorry to have taken your time, ladies and gentlemen. This news conference is ended. He left the stage and went out to the street via a side door. The few people present, also left the room in ones and two’s.
Over the next several weeks the price of Farther Out stock dropped to one cent a share. There were rumors that it would be delisted from the stock market. Additional rumors indicated the company might declare bankruptcy.
It was several months later that Wolf of CNN startled viewers with breaking news.
“It has just been announced by Martin Arcos,” he began, “that his company, Farther Out, has completed a tunnel, extending from Chicago, Illinois to Kunming, China. Mr. Arcos declared that the tracks for the cable cars are being installed and that the first voyage by cable car from the United States to China will take place some time in the middle of next month. Tickets for the first voyage are available now at three hundred dollars each. The Mars project has been completed and travel to Mars will begin in about a week. Trading on the stock market for Farther Out stock has been halted because of the huge influx of buy orders. It is expected to reopen later today somewhere between one and two thousand dollars a share.”