Here's What Would Happen If You Tried To Dig To China

Back in the day, when you were a small child playing with your toy bucket and sand shovel in your front yard, a parent may have told you to be careful, lest you dig all the way to China. It's one of those nonsensical and hyperbolic things adults tell children — like saying that a tree will grow inside of them if they swallow an apple seed — that's done from a place of good-natured ribbing.

But is it possible to dig a hole through the Earth — through its core, from a point in the United States — and wind up in China? As a matter of fact, it's not possible at all for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is that the geography just doesn't work. More specifically, China is not the antipode — the point on the exact opposite side of the Earth — from any part of the United States. Further, one does not simply start digging and keep at it until they've dug the nearly 4,000 miles required, per Business Insider. There are going to be complications, to put it mildly, and they're not going to be overcome by any degree of skill at the craft.

You're not going to get very far

In a practical sense, attempting to dig a hole through the center of the Earth is going to be impossible, and anyone who attempts it is going to learn why for themselves before too much time has passed. Putting aside matters such as permits, environmental damage, and even the lack of existing equipment capable of doing it, you're still going to be extremely limited in how far you can dig or drill. 

As Business Insider explains, no human endeavor has ever managed to drill all the way through the Earth's crust, and beneath the crust is the mantle, which makes up about 84% of the planet's volume. Beneath that is the Earth's core, where temperatures are well above the threshold of survivability for a human. Indeed, any machinery would likely melt there or be crushed by the pressure. And of course, the gravity at the center of the Earth is near zero, adding another layer of complication to the difficulty of drilling through the planet's core of solid iron.

In case you're wondering, the deepest hole ever dug by humans is the Kola Superdeep Borehole in Russia, per Scientific American. The hole is about 7.5 miles deep, or approximately .09% of the diameter of the Earth.

You wouldn't wind up in China anyway

Even if you managed to overcome all of the practical problems in digging to China, you're still going to wind up with a major complication: You won't be in China. If you started digging from the United States, you're going to wind up in the middle of the Indian Ocean, somewhere between Australia and South Africa, according to a map provided by Peakbagger. If your goal was to dig to China, you'd have to start in Argentina or Chile — the two places that are the antipodes of China.

Strictly for the sake of covering all the bases, it should be noted that China is directly opposite from the United States in one geographical sense, albeit in a rather limited way. As Geography Realm explains, the geographical center of the United States is in Kansas, although where, specifically, depends on whom you ask. Nevertheless, if you stayed on the same north-south parallel from the U.S.'s geographical center (wherever it is), but went to the opposite line of longitude on the exact opposite side of the Earth, you would, indeed, wind up in China.