Journey to the Center of the Earth Page 1 of 26
Journey to the Center of the
Lawrence W. Braile, Professor
Dept. of Earth and Atmospheric
Sheryl J. Braile, Teacher
Happy Hollow School
(January 25, 2002; updated
April 9, 2004; October 15, 2011)
“But in the cause of science men are expected to suffer.” (p. 28, A Journey to
the Center of the Earth, Jules Verne, 1864)
Objectives: This virtual journey to the center of the Earth introduces the traveler to the structure, material properties and conditions within the Earth’s interior. The size and scale of the Earth and of the Earth’s internal structure are also emphasized because the journey utilizes a scale model of the depths within the Earth. Opportunities for creative writing and connections to literature are also provided through Jules Verne’s 1864 science fiction novel, A Journey to the thCenter of the Earth, and the 20 Century Fox 1959 movie adaptation (titled Journey to the
Center of the Earth) starring James Mason, Pat Boone, Arlene Dahl, and Diane Baker.
Background: In the 1800’s there was considerable scientific and popular interest in what was
in the interior of the Earth. The details of the internal structure (crust, mantle, outer core, and inner core; and their composition and thicknesses; Figure 1) had not yet been discovered. And, although volcanic eruptions demonstrated that at least part of the interior of the Earth was hot enough to melt rocks, temperatures within the Earth and the existence of radioactivity were unknown. Jules Verne’s book, A Journey to the Center of the Earth (1864, 272 pages; originally
published in France as Voyage au Centre de la Terre), capitalized on this interest in the Earth and
;Copyright 2002-2011. L. Braile and S. Braile. Permission granted for reproduction for non-commercial uses.
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in adventure with an exciting science fiction story that is still popular today. Verne introduces us to a dedicated, and somewhat eccentric professor, and his nephew through whom the story is told (see selected quotations below), who eventually travel into the Earth’s deep interior by entering into an opening in the crater of a volcano in Iceland.