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Enormous Tunneling Machine 'Bertha' Blocked By 'The Object'

Soulskill posted about 4 months ago | from the new-television-series-already-under-development dept.

Earth 339

An anonymous reader sends word that 'Bertha,' the world's largest tunneling machine, which is currently boring a passage beneath Seattle's waterfront, has been forced stop. The 57.5ft diameter machine has encountered an unknown obstruction known as "the object." "The object’s composition and provenance remain unknown almost two weeks after first contact because in a state-of-the-art tunneling machine, as it turns out, you can’t exactly poke your head out the window and look. 'What we’re focusing on now is creating conditions that will allow us to enter the chamber behind the cutter head and see what the situation is,' [said project manager Chris Dixon]. Mr. Dixon said he felt pretty confident that the blockage will turn out to be nothing more or less romantic than a giant boulder, perhaps left over from the Ice Age glaciers that scoured and crushed this corner of the continent 17,000 years ago. But the unknown is a tantalizing subject. Some residents said they believe, or want to believe, that a piece of old Seattle, buried in the pell-mell rush of city-building in the 1800s, when a mucky waterfront wetland was filled in to make room for commerce, could be Bertha’s big trouble. That theory is bolstered by the fact that the blocked tunnel section is also in the shallowest portion of the route, with the top of the machine only around 45 feet below street grade."

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339 comments

Time to call in... (5, Funny)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | about 4 months ago | (#45747077)

...The SCP Foundation.

Re:Time to call in... (3, Informative)

Dachannien (617929) | about 4 months ago | (#45747405)

How do we know that the SCP Foundation wasn't already aware of this object, and the whole tunneling project wasn't actually a cover for securing it? Rest assured that whatever "it" is, "they" have a suitably mundane explanation already prepared.

Near the waterfront? (2)

Peter Simpson (112887) | about 4 months ago | (#45747103)

I'm betting on a lost anchor or random pieces of cast iron from an old ship.

Re:Near the waterfront? (2, Interesting)

Stargoat (658863) | about 4 months ago | (#45747223)

Yeah, pretty much. But in this case, I will put my money on the hull of a schooner. Old piece of garbage got dumped there wholesale I'll wage.

150 years ago:
Person A: "Hey, we need landfill. Do you want this leaky decrepit hulk any more?"
Person B "Give me 20 bucks and it's yours."
Person A: "Here you go, thanks! That'll make great landfill and as long as anyone doesn't try to dig a giant tunnel through here, we're set!

Re:Near the waterfront? (4, Funny)

ackthpt (218170) | about 4 months ago | (#45747231)

I'm betting on a lost anchor or random pieces of cast iron from an old ship.

I'm betting it's a fragment of the House. As we have seen, it can obstruct almost anything it puts its mind to.

Re:Near the waterfront? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45747305)

I'm betting it's your momma.

Re:Near the waterfront? (2)

wooferhound (546132) | about 4 months ago | (#45747329)

They couldn't build an Earth tunneling machine that cant deal with a giant boulder ?

Re:Near the waterfront? (5, Informative)

Frosty Piss (770223) | about 4 months ago | (#45747455)

They couldn't build an Earth tunneling machine that cant deal with a giant boulder ?

The cutter heads break apart stationary rock and other objects. The theory in the local press here in Seattle is that the bolder is being spun with the cutter head, thus the cutter teeth canâ(TM)t grip it, and itâ(TM)s too big to fall through the openings in the cutter head that channel debris to the exit conveyor.

Re:Near the waterfront? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45747609)

Doesn't sound like anything a bit of dynamite couldn't handle.

Re:Near the waterfront? (4, Funny)

Hognoxious (631665) | about 3 months ago | (#45747661)

The theory in the local press here in Seattle is that the bolder is being spun with the cutter head

... while the timid one is standing off to one side looking at its shoes.

Re:Near the waterfront? (2)

Lumpy (12016) | about 3 months ago | (#45747667)

So they ran into the location where they buried all the bowling balls from the great bowling blight of the 1700's.

Re:Near the waterfront? (1)

Black LED (1957016) | about 3 months ago | (#45747713)

the bolder is being spun with the cutter head

I'm not sure why I find the mental image of that so funny.

Re:Near the waterfront? (4, Informative)

gman003 (1693318) | about 4 months ago | (#45747345)

An anchor that can block a five-story-high tunneling machine? I've seen some massive anchors from old battleships, but to block this it would have to be an order of magnitude larger.

Best bet is either on a giant boulder of some hard rock, or maybe a buried building of some sort. It's not ship debris - this thing is the *size* of some large ships.

Re:Near the waterfront? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45747467)

I've taken the Seattle underground tour and heard about their original awful exploding toilets (that ran back up to the house). Perhaps this is just a massive coprolite from that era? OK, I jest; it couldn't have fossilized yet.

It is... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45747113)

Dr. Who's phone booth.

Re:It is... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45747297)

Mod this up! We have a winner!

I bet it's a rectangular solid (5, Funny)

zoid.com (311775) | about 4 months ago | (#45747127)

I bet it's a rectangular solids whose dimensions are in the precise ratio of 1 : 4 : 9....

Re: I bet it's a rectangular solid (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45747181)

And that appears to be...my God...it's full of stars!

Re: I bet it's a rectangular solid (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45747203)

And that appears to be...my God...it's full of stars!

And stripes too! But mostly stars...

Re: I bet it's a rectangular solid (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45747461)

Come back when you've read the book and actually get the line right.
 
This quote is one of the easiest ways to know who has read the book and who has watched 2010 thinking they can pass it off as being a reader.

Re: I bet it's a rectangular solid (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45747637)

And that appears to be...my God...it's full of stars!

Come back when you've read the book and actually get the line right. This quote is one of the easiest ways to know who has read the book and who has watched 2010 thinking they can pass it off as being a reader.

He got the excerpt right, from the book: "The thing's hollow — it goes on forever — and — oh my God! — it's full of stars!". You do realize he is not attempting to quote the movie but mere use a fragmentary reference in a sentence. The first part of the sentence is referring to the situation in Seattle.

And you got the movie wrong, Bowman says it in 2001.

And you got a piss poor test of who read and who did not. I've read 2001 and 2010 and about all I could quote for sure is the "it's full of stars" part, many readers are probably in the same situation.

Re: I bet it's a rectangular solid (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#45747673)

Bowman never says it in 2001 the movie. Sorry. You shown you're just as ignorant.

Re: I bet it's a rectangular solid (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45747521)

And that appears to be...my God...it's full of stars!

Oh shit! It's a tv that just shows TMZ?!

Re:I bet it's a rectangular solid (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45747301)

Perhaps it is where Hoffa ended up.

Re:I bet it's a rectangular solid (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45747375)

All in all it will be another boring story with boring results after some digging.

Re:I bet it's a rectangular solid, blue (1)

wa2flq (313837) | about 4 months ago | (#45747517)

and sized 50"x50"x99" at least on the outside..

Where did I put that key????

Maybe the machine ran into (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45747171)

... a create of unsold Windows phones?

Re:Maybe the machine ran into (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45747395)

yeah, Nokias

Paging Dr Quatermass... (4, Interesting)

uncle slacky (1125953) | about 4 months ago | (#45747197)

I'm sure I saw an old documentary about this kind of thing happening in the London Underground. Watch out for giant ants...

Re:Paging Dr Quatermass... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45747267)

Grasshoppers...large, telekinetic grasshoppers...

Re:Paging Dr Quatermass... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45747361)

In the movie (5 Million Years to Earth [youtube.com]) I thought the aliens looked more like grasshoppers than ants. But you may be on to something here...

Re:Paging Dr Quatermass... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45747459)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bsnunQ-NERI

New Horror Flick... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45747205)

Lets make a new movie. Call it.... The Object.

Duh duh duuuuhhhh.

I'd go see it.

Re:New Horror Flick... (1)

michrech (468134) | about 4 months ago | (#45747385)

This [imdb.com] or this [imdb.com] are already waiting for you. ;)

Re:New Horror Flick... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#45747685)

This [imdb.com] or this [imdb.com] are already waiting for you. ;)

The proposed movie is a reimagining of the original. Antarctica is passe.

Alien pod (1)

Captain_Chaos (103843) | about 4 months ago | (#45747221)

Obviously this must be an alien pod buried millions of years ago and patiently waiting for its pilot to arrive riding the lightning. We were bound to stumble across them some day!

you do (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45747225)

Someone is telling porkties, the machine just just needs to be put in reverse like when the teeth need changing.

Cannot back up (5, Informative)

dcooper_db9 (1044858) | about 4 months ago | (#45747627)

No can do. As the machine moves forward the tunnel walls are built behind it. TBM's have no reverse.

Actually the machine isn't stuck, yet. They stopped the machine because it encountered resistance. If it actually does get stuck the machine can't be dismantled underground and removed. They would have to dig it out from above, remove the TBM and install a new one. If it does get stuck let's just hope it's not under a skyscraper.

http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/News/2013/12/10_SR99tunnelingstatement.htm

http://www.thestranger.com/seattle/what-could-possibly-go-wrong/Content?oid=4399657

Alien Origin (2, Insightful)

Jherek Carnelian (831679) | about 4 months ago | (#45747241)

Clearly The Object is an interstellar vehicle with a structure of super-dense composite materials built to withstand the vagaries of near-light-speed travel for thousands of years. It crashed here long before human tribes crossed the land bridge from siberia and has remained undiscovered until now. They are best off leaving it undisturbed, if they enter it, they risk releasing biomechanoid killing machines that will destroy all of humanity.

Maybe... (1)

XMark3 (2979399) | about 4 months ago | (#45747259)

Maybe this is where they ACTUALLY buried all those cartridges of the Atari ET game.

Re:Maybe... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45747339)

Na, it is very clear this object is made of Nintendium, it has to be Superman.

STOP THE PROJECT NOW! (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45747265)

That is not dead which can eternal lie.
And with strange aeons even death may die.

Hmmmm.... (1, Insightful)

rts008 (812749) | about 4 months ago | (#45747281)

Jimmy Hoffa, encased in concrete? ;-)

Oh, and my car keys, hundreds of missing socks and the TV remote control. That's my theory.

And so it begins (4, Informative)

swm (171547) | about 4 months ago | (#45747283)

This tunnel was locally controversial, with opponents arguing that
- it was expensive
- it wouldn't help with Seattle's traffic problems, AND
- these monster boring machines have a track record of getting stuck underground, and then what are you going to do? Call Roto-Rooter?

Sounds like it's starting to come true...

Re:And so it begins (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45747407)

Not to mention, it's a damned earthquake zone, and a rainy one at that.

Scientific Term: BFR (5, Funny)

some old guy (674482) | about 4 months ago | (#45747289)

Civil Engineers, geologists, and mining specialists encounter the BFR phenomenon on a regular basis.

It's a Big Fucking Rock.

Re:Scientific Term: BFR (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45747373)

Enormous tunneling machines aren't able to break through a big fucking rock? Pretty weak tunneling machines, bro.

Re:Scientific Term: BFR (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45747441)

I'm no engineer but I'm guessing the machine was never meant to bore through solid rock like that. The procedure for rock is still drill-and-blast.

Probably boring (no pun intended) (2)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | about 4 months ago | (#45747315)

It's hard to imagine a "piece of old Seattle" that would interfere with a tunneling machine. I'm guessing they're right, and it's an erratic from the ice age. I'd love to get to go in the tunnel and look, though - the tunneling equipment Seattle's been using both for this one and for the light rail extension fascinates me.

I'm a bit surprised Ivar's hasn't taken advantage of this [seattletimes.com] though.

A sad day (2)

jovius (974690) | about 4 months ago | (#45747321)

Tis' a great blow for object oriented programming.

Re:A sad day (1)

ericloewe (2129490) | about 4 months ago | (#45747599)

Don't worry, this actually proves that OOP is The Right Way. They should've built a machine that could handle the abstract class Object or at least stuffTypicallyFoundUnderground.

Of course, the object is clearly lacking a destructor, and is thus not cleaning up after itself. Shameful behavior.

The Hatch (2)

Dan McCann (2885809) | about 4 months ago | (#45747325)

Upon further investigation they've determined the object has a hatch. The plan to spend the next couple of seasons trying top open it. They're not not the only ones in the tunnel...and they all know it!

OMG.... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45747347)

Maybe its Jimmy Hoffa....

Doesn't sound very stable... (2, Interesting)

rnturn (11092) | about 4 months ago | (#45747355)

... having a 57.5ft tunnel with only 45ft of material above it. Aren't they worried about a cave-in? Unless they're plowing through heavily clay-laden (damned near bunker-buster-proof) soil like we have around where I live, surely the vibrations will have an effect on that 45ft of soil overhead if they decide to proceed and Bertha begins grinding its way through The Object.

Re:Doesn't sound very stable... (5, Informative)

RichMan (8097) | about 4 months ago | (#45747411)

The machine puts up tunnel walls as it goes.
http://gizmodo.com/big-bertha-is-digging-seattles-massive-underground-fre-662469199 [gizmodo.com]
Concrete panels go in right behind the bore head. Infront of the maw is ground below the water table. The bore head forms a seal and the tunnel behind the bore head is pumped dry of water that leaks through.

Re:Doesn't sound very stable... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45747489)

Holly crap, it's almost like someone THOUGHT about this. Like maybe an engineer that gets paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to think about this shit every day!
AMAZING!

Re:Doesn't sound very stable... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45747427)

Such tunnels are typically lined right after they're bored to prevent water entering, collapse etc

Re:Doesn't sound very stable... (5, Funny)

jonnythan (79727) | about 4 months ago | (#45747439)

They should totally get you in on this project. I imagine they have no idea they're doing it all wrong.

Re:Doesn't sound very stable... (2)

Blakey Rat (99501) | about 4 months ago | (#45747635)

Do you really think the engineers responsible for this project didn't fucking thing of that? And account for it? God, maybe you suck ass at your job, but try not to assume everybody else does.

And for the record, Bertha's stopped because it *can't* grind through the object. If it could, this wouldn't be in the news would it?

Possible Objects (1)

DiEx-15 (959602) | about 4 months ago | (#45747383)

Listing possible things blocking a uber big drill from drilling:

1) The TARDIS
2) An "ancient" alien ship.
3) Those ET 2600 cartridges from the '80s.
4) Microsoft Surfaces that were wrote off.
5) A big rock that nobody had the foresight to see.

The Ballmer (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45747423)

The object is The Ballmer's ego. It has grown even larger since he joined up with Hansen and Nordstrom to force taxpayers to fund his billionaire boys club basketball arena in Seattle.

The ego is impenetrable.

leave it to humans.... (1)

axehind (518047) | about 4 months ago | (#45747435)

When we cant explain or know something, we like to make up unreal theories about what it could be. Part of human nature....

Uh-oh!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45747465)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boneshaker_%28novel%29

my money is on (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45747563)

Jimmy Hoffa

Irresistable force meets immovable object (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45747573)

Something's gotta give...

Boring Story (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#45747581)

So a boring machine hits an object and isn't boring anymore. Isn't that a good thing? If it gets even less boring, stories about it might even be interesting (or at least less boring).

All of your theories are wrong... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#45747705)

Obviously, we have finally found one of the leftover Raptors that Adama and company neglected to throw into the Sun.

It's mom. (1)

uncqual (836337) | about 3 months ago | (#45747729)

If they check history carefully, they will find that in prehistoric times the people living there wanted a tunnel and began to bore it from the other end before money ran out. Bertha is just running into the front end of Big Bertha and they are butting (spinning) heads.

The good news is that the tunnel will now be completed ahead of schedule and we will also learn more about the irresistible force paradox [wikipedia.org].

Why call it anything? (1)

mark-t (151149) | about 3 months ago | (#45747737)

Giving it a vague title like "the object" implicitly connotes a sense of mystery and potential for some sort of unforeseen discovery.

It's an unknown obstruction... if they are going to call it anything, they should have just called it that.

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