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50 Years Ago

Science Past from the issue of February 9, 1963

DIG DITCHES WITH ATOMS — Digging earth by atomic explosions is proving successful, but if President Kennedy’s suspension of underground atomic testing on Jan. 26 is maintained, the method may not be used practically. Future excavation experiments are described for the first time by the Atomic Energy Commission in its annual report to Congress. The AEC says underground blasts can be used for canal construction, harbor excavation, recovery of minerals, oil or water, processing of chemicals and desalting water. Detonations of useful, peace-serving atomic and hydrogen “bombs” are of two kinds — cratering, or earth-moving, and confined explosives. There are 11 projects, collectively named Plowshare, for both types on the AEC underground explosion schedule.

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