Note: Boat not to scale.
In news that's sure to upset the mole-people, Japan has announced a plan to drill through the earth's crust and reach the mantle. Using a state-of-the-art drilling vessel named Chikyu, the drilling would start 2.5 miles beneath the ocean's surface, and continue another 3.7 miles through the crust until hitting the mantle, at which point, according to my calculations, the earth will explode like a needled balloon. *recrunches numbers* Yep, I'm sure of it.
Should all go according to plan, the researchers will find out more about the formation of our planet and the materials which form the mantle, which are still unknown to us. On top of that, the project may also help us (or the Japanese government, at least) better predict natural disasters such as earthquakes and volcanos.
There is still a while to wait, however, since the project isn't expected to commence until around 2030. Prior to that, the researchers need to work out a few technical details they will face, as well as raising 60 billion yen (about $540 million) estimated as the project's cost.
Whoa, $540 million? That's a lot of money for a hole, even if it is a really deep one. I've never paid more than $20 to have a hole dug, and that was to install an in-ground kitty pool. "You mean kiddie?" No I do not, I teach swimming lessons to strays to boost their confidence.
Thanks to Jarod, who referenced the 'Inferno' episode of Doctor Who, which I am not familiar with but will watch now on company time.