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Ten light minutes away from the construction site was the quarry that would provide the raw materials. The first batch of miners had been sent directly from the final assembly building in Mobile Bay of frame zero, through hyperspace, to the upper reaches of the Venusian atmosphere. As the very specific mix of radioactive isotopes that comprised the fuel cell, warmed to the lead-melting ambient temperature, huge quantities of electrons in the outer valent shells were liberated momentarily. At operating temperatures, this flow generated several kilowatts, which was used to both keep the miner at altitude, and break the carbon to oxygen bond. The oxygen was vented back into the atmosphere in the form of ozone, and the carbon was stored in the form of graphite until the storage tank was filled. Emptying this storage tank had almost given Steve Fuller an ulcer. This was the reason that Dr Avery had initially designed the miners to transfer material through normal space by means of detuned railguns. Eventually, Steve hit on the idea of using quantum dots to simulate a coating of neutronium, one particle thick, on the inside of the storage tank. He had guessed, correctly, that the gravitons would be deflected by the incredible density of a neutron star. Steve was unable to use actual neutrons because there is not/will not be, a technology to prevent neutrons from collapsing under their own gravity to a ball the size of a hydrogen atom and settling through the bottom of the tank.

As the carbon dioxide entered the system, it passed through an electrolysis chamber where dozens of electric sparks did the job of breaking the molecular bonds. The liberated oxygen was released, and then another chamber treated the gas again. After twenty chambers, over ninety percent of the carbon was separated. When the graphite tank contained eight cubic meters, the lens was activated.

Thirty miles below the carbon miners, the prototype of the surface miners dipped a refining probe into a lava flow. Within one hour, the lava had been spectroscopically analyzed for concentrations of seventy elements. This flow held gold at fourteen parts per million, and copper at two hundred parts per million.



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