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# Inventing new ways to destroy mankind.

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Engineer a bacteria that can metabolize plastic. That will be the end of the world as we know it.

Strangely, this isn't so far fetched. In the 1940's, not too long after its invention, a specific strain of bacteria mutated into a form that could metabolize Nylon. :naughty:

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While nuclear weapons are quite powerful and dangerous this thread suffers from a distinct lack of understanding of what a nuclear bomb is capable of. Even the most theoretically powerful bomb would have no long term effects on the ice cap and would not cause any of the extreme effects mentioned here.

I agree.

A good starting point for any physics question is to assume 100% efficiency of a process – in this case, a single nuclear bomb vaporizing water – and calculate a simple maximum possible effect.

The largest nuclear bomb had yield (energy output) of about 50 megatons

[imath]1 \,\mbox{megaton} \dot= 4.184 \times 10^{15}[/imath] J

4200 J is required to heat 1 kg of water 1 C

Water vaporizes at 100 C

[imath]1 \,\mbox{m}^3 \,\mbox{water} = 1000 \,\mbox{kg}[/imath]

From this, assuming polar water is about 0 C, we can calculate

[imath]50 \dot 4.184 \times 10^{15} \div 4200 \div 1000 \dot= 5 \times 10^8 \,\mbox{m}^3[/imath] water vaporized.

While this is a lot of water in everyday human terms – about 200,000 Olympic-size swimming pools – it’s small in oceanographic terms – in the middle of the Arctic ocean, it would be a column about 320 x 320 x 5000 m – and a tiny fraction – about 0.04% – of the about [imath]1.4 \times 10^{12} \,\mbox{m}^3[/imath] of water vaporized naturally in a single day by the Earth’s water cycle

Keep in mind this assumes the bomb is 100% efficient, all of its energy going into heating water, none into emitting light or moving water or air, and that the water is heated just enough to vaporize it, not superheated. So the actual amount of water vaporized would be less than this estimate.

So we can confidently answer this nearly 6 year old question

Could a single thermal nuclear detonation at each of the earth’s poles create a critical state that would have major to cataclysmic global effects?

No.

We actually know something about what happens when a nuclear bomb is detonated underwater, from the 1946 BAKER, the 1955 WIGWAM, and 1958 WAHOO tests, where nuclear bombs about 1000 times less powerful than the example above were detonated at various depths in water. While spectacular explosions resulted, they had only brief local effects – though dangerous long-lasting effects to nearby living things.

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I vote to build a giant blend-tech blender and shoot the "will it blend, the world" commercial... ought to be fun :eek_big:

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A good starting point for any physics question is to assume 100% efficiency of a process – in this case, a single nuclear bomb vaporizing water – and calculate a simple maximum possible effect.

The largest nuclear bomb had yield (energy output) of about 50 megatons

[imath]1 \,\mbox{megaton} \dot= 4.184 \times 10^{15}[/imath] J

4200 J is required to heat 1 kg of water 1 C

Water vaporizes at 100 C

[imath]1 \,\mbox{m}^3 \,\mbox{water} = 1000 \,\mbox{kg}[/imath]

From this, assuming polar water is about 0 C, we can calculate

[imath]50 \dot 4.184 \times 10^{15} \div 4200 \div 1000 \dot= 5 \times 10^8 \,\mbox{m}^3[/imath] water vaporized.

While this is a lot of water in everyday human terms – about 200,000 Olympic-size swimming pools – it’s small in oceanographic terms – in the middle of the Arctic ocean, it would be a column about 320 x 320 x 5000 m – and a tiny fraction – about 0.04% – of the about [imath]1.4 \times 10^{12} \,\mbox{m}^3[/imath] of water vaporized naturally in a single day by the Earth’s water cycle

Keep in mind this assumes the bomb is 100% efficient, all of its energy going into heating water, none into emitting light or moving water or air, and that the water is heated just enough to vaporize it, not superheated. So the actual amount of water vaporized would be less than this estimate.

So we can confidently answer this nearly 6 year old question

No.

Nearly six years old? It's a good thing there isn't a rule against necroing old posts here :)

You're assuming that the bomb's energy goes into vaporising water. If the idea is to raise sea levels by turning ice to water, you're out by a factor of 3. ;)

Suppose, though, that the effect was indirect? The bomb triggers a previously-unknown supervolcano beneath the antarctic icecap, releasing enough energy to melt the whole ice sheet.... :eek:

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Do we really need to invent more ways of destroying the planet?

We are destroying it now with an intensity and at arate I thought impossible 50 years ago

Perhaps not as dramatic as a bomb but as effective.

This is the way the world ends

This is the way the world ends

This is the way the world ends

Not with a bang but a whimper.

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Do we really need to invent more ways of destroying the planet?

We are destroying it now with an intensity and at arate I thought impossible 50 years ago

Perhaps not as dramatic as a bomb but as effective.

I have a feeling that mankind advances best when faced with a problem. If life's too easy, we're happy to lounge in front of the TV munching popcorn (or whatever the palaeolithic equivalent was).

It took an ice age to get us started, and constant warfare to keep us moving.

As I said in another thread, if the scientific consensus is even halfway right, the human race has some big problems coming up in fifty years or so. It might be grim, but it certainly won't be boring. We'll rise to the challenge, we'll get smarter, and we'll grow!

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Donk, prevention can often be better than cure, it's even better if we try to be smarter starting right from now.

It took an ice age to get us started, and constant warfare to keep us moving.
I don't hink that means war is necessary. People are always trying to find improvements. In fact war is one thing that some dudes have done to seek their own advantage, so your theorem is even a bit backwards. War isn't the best way of seeking advantage and it isn't the only driving force for technological improvement. :shrug:

You have to remember we have detonated quite few large nuclear devices in the atmosphere already with the only real effects is that we all live with slightly more back round radiation.
Because they detonated high up, they didn't find much stuff to burn. It's mighty different for explosions at the surface, so it all depends on how they are targeted.

The TTAPS study has been criticized and is considered controversial, but some still think the prospect of nuclear winter must be sriously considered.

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I don't hink that means war is necessary. People are always trying to find improvements.

Unfortunately, the scope and cost of really groundbreaking technology is at such a scale that very few individuals or private companies actually get anywhere on their own. For serious research and development, you need government funding. And lots of it. And governments only seem to be willing to part with sizable chunks of their hard-leached tax monies for research during wartime. Consider the entire nuclear power industry, the internet, computers as we know it, virtually the entire US space program which was merely a continuation of the groundbreaking work done in Peënemunde by them evil Nazis, etc. Almost every single technological advance of the twentieth century could be drawn back to WW1, WW2 or the Cold War - which, in my opinion, was merely the unresolved remains of WW2, which was, again, the eventual cleaning up of the political mess left by WW1. Long story short, if it wasn't for Hitler, Armstrong wouldn't have stood on the moon in '69.

In fact war is one thing that some dudes have done to seek their own advantage, so your theorem is even a bit backwards. War isn't the best way of seeking advantage and it isn't the only driving force for technological improvement. :shrug:

War is by far the best way to open the sluicegates to government research funding. Unfortunately so. I will not, however, call Donk's idea in this regard "backward" - not at all.

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You miss my point. I'm not glorifying war or nuclear weapons - far from it!

I'm saying that a problem-free existence isn't ideal. We're at our best when facing trouble, and at our worst when everything is fine. If you don't believe me, look at rich kids, worldwide.

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• 2 months later...

Well, developing and arming a nuclear bomb, I imagine, would be close to impossible with powerful countries breathing down your neck. And you can't have them know something's up (when their big ol' crate of uranium is missing), asking questions around etc etc. Or you'll be wasted before you even start.

I would suggest a virus, and quickly distribute different strains consecutively so they cant make/distribute antidotes fast enough. I hope a certain famous turban doesn't see this.

By the way, mods/ admin, feel free to remove this post if you find it giving ideas to not-very-nice-people

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I dabble in short stories and have been kicking around a couple of ideas with a few fictional “what if” scenarios.

Could a single thermal nuclear detonation at each of the earth’s poles create a critical state that would have major to cataclysmic global effects? If theoretically possible what would the size of the detonation need to be and what would be the global effects?

This is not any new one; Just to continue with the activities what mankind is doing currently.

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I agree.

A good starting point for any physics question is to assume 100% efficiency of a process – in this case, a single nuclear bomb vaporizing water – and calculate a simple maximum possible effect.

The largest nuclear bomb had yield (energy output) of about 50 megatons

[imath]1 \,\mbox{megaton} \dot= 4.184 \times 10^{15}[/imath] J

4200 J is required to heat 1 kg of water 1 C

Water vaporizes at 100 C

[imath]1 \,\mbox{m}^3 \,\mbox{water} = 1000 \,\mbox{kg}[/imath]

From this, assuming polar water is about 0 C, we can calculate

[imath]50 \dot 4.184 \times 10^{15} \div 4200 \div 1000 \dot= 5 \times 10^8 \,\mbox{m}^3[/imath] water vaporized.

While this is a lot of water in everyday human terms – about 200,000 Olympic-size swimming pools – it’s small in oceanographic terms – in the middle of the Arctic ocean, it would be a column about 320 x 320 x 5000 m – and a tiny fraction – about 0.04% – of the about [imath]1.4 \times 10^{12} \,\mbox{m}^3[/imath] of water vaporized naturally in a single day by the Earth’s water cycle

Keep in mind this assumes the bomb is 100% efficient, all of its energy going into heating water, none into emitting light or moving water or air, and that the water is heated just enough to vaporize it, not superheated. So the actual amount of water vaporized would be less than this estimate.

So we can confidently answer this nearly 6 year old question

No.

We actually know something about what happens when a nuclear bomb is detonated underwater, from the 1946 BAKER, the 1955 WIGWAM, and 1958 WAHOO tests, where nuclear bombs about 1000 times less powerful than the example above were detonated at various depths in water. While spectacular explosions resulted, they had only brief local effects – though dangerous long-lasting effects to nearby living things.

I would definitely make a program where all the best minds of the mankind would be harnessed to develop "weapons of mass destruction" and ensure "unlimited " funding from governments to this most important program.... I am almost getting an orgasm here just thinking of it...Sorry, what did you say...ah! it´s done already... so what the heck; let´s use them! Oh Joy!

Edited by Vox
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Gosh I missed these replies for such a long time. :doh:

You miss my point. I'm not glorifying war or nuclear weapons - far from it!
I wasn't at all sure that you were glorifying it, but I think you missed my point and so did Boerseun.

I don't enjoy replies that assume me to be an idiot when I simply see the distinction between war being necessary and politics being dumb. Yes, absolutely dumb; look how much funding high energy particle physics got from those idiots by just calling itself a kind of nuclear physics. But :zip: don't tell them, or they might cut the LHC off. :lol:

Yes, I do see it as being backwards, because a less dumb and much smarter politics would spend much more effort on making progress to solve problems instead of trying to solve them with war and hence causing more of them. That's what I meant by the first line of that post.

I'm saying that a problem-free existence isn't ideal. We're at our best when facing trouble, and at our worst when everything is fine. If you don't believe me, look at rich kids, worldwide.
I've seen plenty of spoilt brats. I've also seen people that were putting great effort into their acheivements when they were facing no trouble at all. As for facing trouble, you get circular there if you analyse the whole cause-effect structure; why does the trouble have to be war? How about the troubles that cause war? How about avoiding these, instead of letting them blow up ahead of us?

A lack of effort toward solving problems lets these get to the point where politicians and their protégés think the handiest or only solution is to invade some country to gain control of some resources. Fortunately, not quite all nations are reasoning like this, but according to you guys they are undermining progress by trying to avoid folks having enough trouble to face. :)

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Well, one megaton (of TNT, energy thereof) is nominally 4E15 Joules, and there are four Joules per calorie (energy to raise the temperature of one cc of water by one degree centigrade) and the energy of fusion of ice is 80 calories/gram (540 calories/gram for vaporisation) so one megaton, devoted entirely to melting ice, would melt 1.25E13 grams of ice, which is 1.25E10 kilograms, or 1.25E7 tonnes, 12 million tonnes. The largest atomic bomb tested was Russian, at about 55 megatons, and so would melt say 70 million tonnes.

This is quite a lot, but a mere speck with regard to Greenland's ice cap, still less Antarctica. Because a cubic metre of water weighs one tonne (this is the definition of the kilogram) and 70 million cubic metres is the volume of a cube 400 metres on a side. Many icebergs are much bigger than that.

Even the entire collection of nuclear bombs would still melt but a trivial amount of ice. Other effects however would be more serious, such as dust and smoke blocking the sun and leading to a "nuclear winter" and thus blocking a much larger energy flow from the sun.

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