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Inventions Ease the Plight of Trapped Miners


Chile miners

The Wall Street Journal

The 33 Chilean miners who have been trapped deep underground for eight weeks watch movies on a projector built into a cellphone. They avoid athlete's foot and other infections thanks to socks made with a bacteria-killing copper fiber. And they communicate with rescuers and relatives over an ultra-flexible fiber-optic cable that maintains transmission capacity while twisting through hard rock nearly half a mile below ground.

Smart application of technology has made life underground more tolerable for the miners, who have been buried beneath 2,200 feet of rock and earth since a cave-in on Aug. 5. Rescuers are using three different drills to bore shafts to reach the trapped men; one of the drills is making exceptionally rapid progress, raising hopes the miners could be brought back above ground in October rather than the government's stated goal of November.

Until then, rescuers are tending to the miners' needs by deploying an array of jury-rigged mining equipment, micro-electronics and brand new contraptions dreamed up by Chilean engineers, scientists and submariners.

From The Wall Street Journal
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