Science-based what-if questions

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Science-based what-if questions

Postby andykhang » Mon Sep 05, 2016 4:43 pm UTC

I considered putting these into the "common queries" thread, but they tend to have a more specific what-if feel to them so here's a new thread for it. - gmalivuk

2600 km in 1/30 second.
It's kind of a famous quote in our fanbase, but what actually would happen if you do this on Earth?

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Re: 2600 km in 1/30 second.

Postby cyanyoshi » Mon Sep 05, 2016 7:49 pm UTC

That's about 26% light speed, so probably something like this.
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Re: 2600 km in 1/30 second.

Postby andykhang » Tue Sep 06, 2016 7:15 am UTC

I got more specific question though:

actually going through 2600 km in 1/30 second.

Going along the curve line of the earth.

Suddenly stop at the end...on the earth

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Re: 2600 km in 1/30 second.

Postby Meteoric » Tue Sep 06, 2016 7:21 am UTC

What is it that we're moving? A single electron won't do much of anything interesting, but something person-sized or larger...

I imagine it would look something like a 2600km line charge made out of nukes, with an especially large nuke at the end when all of that kinetic energy discharges into the sudden stop.
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Re: 2600 km in 1/30 second.

Postby andykhang » Tue Sep 06, 2016 7:24 am UTC

A person of about 60kg.

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Re: 2600 km in 1/30 second.

Postby Neil_Boekend » Tue Sep 06, 2016 1:03 pm UTC

The travel itself has been explored in What If 1, as indicated above. It would be significantly more destructive, due to the increased surface area wrt a baseball.

Now stopping at the end.That's quite a release of kinetic energy: about 2x1017 joules. For comparison, the nuclear bomb that destroyed Hiroshima was 6.7 x 10 13 joules. This would be almost 3000 times as much.
It would be almost as big an explosion as the Tsar Bomba with 2.1x1017 joules, the biggest nuclear bomb ever created.

City destruction is kinda the size you're talking.
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Re: 2600 km in 1/30 second.

Postby andykhang » Tue Sep 06, 2016 2:16 pm UTC

If what would happen during the 2600km trip on the curvature of the earth is similar to What if 1, what is the scale of destruction we're talking about here?

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Re: 2600 km in 1/30 second.

Postby Neil_Boekend » Tue Sep 06, 2016 2:54 pm UTC

Continuous nuclear explosions along the path. The equivalent of a Hiroshima bomb every few hundred meter. The gamma radiation from the air fusing with the front bits of the unfortunate one will tear the rest of them apart. For more details extensive testing is required which I would strongly prefer if you did it on another planet, because nuclear winter is probably not very fun.

Oh, and someone needs to apply a force of 2.723x1012N to make the unfortionate one even follow that damn tight curve of the earth's surface.
The F-1 rocket engine in the Saturn V program delivered about 6.7x106N. You'd need the thrust of almost half a million of those, pointing upward, to make the curve. Not the rocket engines themselves, because that mass would have to follow the curve too. Just the thrust.

Yeah so we're talking about billions of g's in acceleration. So if the unfortunate one is shielded with a sufficiently thick lead shield to absorb the gamma radiation they would still be pancaked by the g force required to make the curve.
I can't find any data on what acceleration causes atoms themselves to deform, would anyone know more about such effects?
Last edited by Neil_Boekend on Tue Sep 06, 2016 3:00 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: 2600 km in 1/30 second.

Postby HES » Tue Sep 06, 2016 2:58 pm UTC

Neil_Boekend wrote:You'd need the thrust of almost half a million of those, pointing upward, to make the curve. Not the rocket engines themselves, because that mass would have to follow the curve too. Just the thrust

Would vectoring the hectometrely nuclear blast upwards help?
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Re: 2600 km in 1/30 second.

Postby Soupspoon » Tue Sep 06, 2016 3:05 pm UTC

I rather think that it would have to be an (effectively) uncurved path of destruction. Whether it started high up to skim the surface at a tangent or dove as a chord through the topmost crust of the Earth, I envisage that even the secondary energies from the transit would carve a groove in the planet similar to what happens with the Moon in 'Iron Sky'. Complicated by it not being the airless and tectonically stagnant Moon, though.

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Re: 2600 km in 1/30 second.

Postby gmalivuk » Tue Sep 06, 2016 3:38 pm UTC

At a measly 26% of light speed, you're not getting fusion with the air, or many relativistic effects at all (gamma is a bit under 1.04, compared to 2.29 for the baseball).

That isn't to say it won't be terribly destructive, but unlike the baseball we don't really need to worry about nuclear or relativistic physics here, I don't think.
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Re: 2600 km in 1/30 second.

Postby andykhang » Tue Sep 06, 2016 3:57 pm UTC

Neil_Boekend wrote:Continuous nuclear explosions along the path. The equivalent of a Hiroshima bomb every few hundred meter. The gamma radiation from the air fusing with the front bits of the unfortunate one will tear the rest of them apart. For more details extensive testing is required which I would strongly prefer if you did it on another planet, because nuclear winter is probably not very fun.

Oh, and someone needs to apply a force of 2.723x1012N to make the unfortionate one even follow that damn tight curve of the earth's surface.
The F-1 rocket engine in the Saturn V program delivered about 6.7x106N. You'd need the thrust of almost half a million of those, pointing upward, to make the curve. Not the rocket engines themselves, because that mass would have to follow the curve too. Just the thrust.

Yeah so we're talking about billions of g's in acceleration. So if the unfortunate one is shielded with a sufficiently thick lead shield to absorb the gamma radiation they would still be pancaked by the g force required to make the curve.
I can't find any data on what acceleration causes atoms themselves to deform, would anyone know more about such effects?


Actually, the acceleration would make that person to experience 6.208163265 * 10^14 G (with 50 cm braking distance, it would be 50 time more G if you reduce it to 1) to be able to make the 2600 km cut. That would be like if you have to carried the weight of a small moon on your back. Forget pancake, this person would be flattened to near atomic width.
Last edited by andykhang on Tue Sep 06, 2016 4:10 pm UTC, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: 2600 km in 1/30 second.

Postby andykhang » Tue Sep 06, 2016 3:59 pm UTC

gmalivuk wrote:At a measly 26% of light speed, you're not getting fusion with the air, or many relativistic effects at all (gamma is a bit under 1.04, compared to 2.29 for the baseball).

That isn't to say it won't be terribly destructive, but unlike the baseball we don't really need to worry about nuclear or relativistic physics here, I don't think.


Still enough heat to plasma-rize the air, don't you think?

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Re: 2600 km in 1/30 second.

Postby Eebster the Great » Tue Sep 06, 2016 10:19 pm UTC

It's a little difficult to figure out what the physics of a soft 60 kg body moving at 7.8 * 107 m/s through an atmosphere would be like. I don't think anything in the universe is comparable. The thing is, a real body like that would be burned, flattened, shredded, and slowed extremely quickly before getting hardly anywhere. But since you explicitly stated it makes it the full 2600 km, there must be some very strong binding force holding him together.

If we treat the body as being very rigid, then the best comparison is to fast meteorites which can in fact enter the atmosphere at speeds close to 7800 km/s in extreme cases. These create narrow trails of ionized air over 100 km long, but that's in the upper atmosphere (mesosphere I think?), which is far less dense than the troposphere. By the time they reach the troposphere, they are only travelling a few km/s. So we still don't have a great analogy.

I don't think the energy is enough to fuse carbon or nitrogen in the air, but it's also way more than is necessary to ionize them, so the best I can say is that you will get a hot, fully ionized plasma of mostly nitrogen and oxygen atoms in the path of the person, with a width barely any greater than the person's cross-section, but obscenely powerful turbulent zones at the edges, with unpredictable results. If the path takes you high enough into the atmosphere, you may get an electric current passing through the plasma similar to low-intensity lightning. You will certainly get deafening "sonic booms" with peak intensities far in excess of what is normally possible in air (~194 dB). You will start fires if you pass anything flammable, but only from a meter away or so, since things too close would be rapidly ionized instead.

I think the "atomic bomb" comparison might be a bit hyperbolic though, but it's hard to say. There is a lot of energy in that moving body, about 1.8 x 1017 J, but the question of just how that energy gets dissipated isn't really made clear in the context of the question. In the context of stopping . . . well how fast does he stop? If his speed decreases from 7800 km/s to 0 km/s in half the given time (1/60 second), then that's an average power of 1.1 x 1017 W. That is not comparable to a nuclear explosion, with peak power on the order of 1025 W, but it's a hell of a detonation. And of course, it maintains this peak power for thousands of times longer than a nuke would.

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Re: 2600 km in 1/30 second.

Postby ucim » Tue Sep 06, 2016 10:38 pm UTC

Eebster the Great wrote:then the best comparison is to fast meteorites which can in fact enter the atmosphere at speeds close to 7800 km/s in extreme cases.
That would be a very extreme case. It would cross the entire earth in two seconds. Are you sure about this?

This one was 64000 mph. 18 mps. 32 km/s. More than two orders of magnitude off.
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Re: 2600 km in 1/30 second.

Postby Eebster the Great » Tue Sep 06, 2016 11:53 pm UTC

Hmm, looks like I read 72 km/s and thought 72000 km/s for some reason (72 km/s = 72,000 m/s, which is just an inherently more reasonable unit). Note that the 29 km/s meteorite was only the fastest measured speed for a meteorite that was recovered, many meteorites do get faster.

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Re: 2600 km in 1/30 second.

Postby Soupspoon » Wed Sep 07, 2016 12:05 am UTC

(Reminded of http://stargate.wikia.com/wiki/Fail_Safe - at least obliquely...)

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Re: 2600 km in 1/30 second.

Postby andykhang » Wed Sep 07, 2016 4:01 am UTC

@ Eebster the Great: But according to your calculation, that would make the braking distance to be 650 km (no friction), which mean 2600 km would become 2600 + 650*2= 3900km, if you also count the acceleration needed to start. If you want to be exact, either making the braking distance to be waaaaay shorter (like 1 cm or so), or the initial speed would be much faster.

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Re: 2600 km in 1/30 second.

Postby gmalivuk » Wed Sep 07, 2016 11:38 am UTC

andykhang wrote:@ Eebster the Great: But according to your calculation, that would make the braking distance to be 650 km (no friction), which mean 2600 km would become 2600 + 650*2= 3900km, if you also count the acceleration needed to start. If you want to be exact, either making the braking distance to be waaaaay shorter (like 1 cm or so), or the initial speed would be much faster.

It still goes 2600km in 1/30 s. What it does before and after that time is its own business, I should think.
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Re: 2600 km in 1/30 second.

Postby andykhang » Wed Sep 07, 2016 1:27 pm UTC

^In that case, the damage would spread out even more, so it's not like it can't be importance.

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Re: 2600 km in 1/30 second.

Postby Zamfir » Wed Sep 07, 2016 7:32 pm UTC

gmalivuk wrote:At a measly 26% of light speed, you're not getting fusion with the air, or many relativistic effects at all (gamma is a bit under 1.04, compared to 2.29 for the baseball).

That isn't to say it won't be terribly destructive, but unlike the baseball we don't really need to worry about nuclear or relativistic physics here, I don't think.

Are you sure about the fusion part? I seem to remember that fusion requires collisions at a few percent of the light speed, not high relativistic speeds. Or is this different for fusion of heavy atoms like carbon and oxygen?

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Core orbiting planet.

Postby andykhang » Sat Sep 10, 2016 4:10 pm UTC

What would happen if the core of Earth suddenly disappear and now in a stable orbit with the Earth?

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Re: Core orbiting planet.

Postby Copper Bezel » Sat Sep 10, 2016 5:40 pm UTC

Earth would get slightly smaller, and you probably wouldn't want to be on it at the time.

The heat released by the collapse would be immense. The surface would solidify again, eventually. I don't know how useful it would be to estimate the amount of heat, since Earth's surface isn't in thermal equilibrium with its core now.
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Re: Core orbiting planet.

Postby commodorejohn » Sat Sep 10, 2016 6:53 pm UTC

Also, Earth would no longer have its own magnetic field, and depending on the orbital distance there'd probably be some kind of crazy tidal interaction.

Not that those would be at the top of anybody's priority list, what with the collapse and all.
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Re: Core orbiting planet.

Postby Tub » Sat Sep 10, 2016 8:01 pm UTC

commodorejohn wrote:Not that those would be at the top of anybody's priority list, what with the collapse and all.

Yeah, the top-priority thing would probably be the resulting miscalibration and/or destruction of the whole GPS system, making it difficult, if not impossible, to catch any pokemon.

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Re: 2600 km in 1/30 second.

Postby Sableagle » Sat Sep 10, 2016 9:42 pm UTC

According to Imperial College's impact effects calculator, which is *not* meant to know about things coming down at > 100km/s, a high-altitude "phup" at 5 degrees impact angle. At 90, it's a slightly lower, rather louder, high-altitude "phup." If he's encased in a lead ball of 3m diameter to protect him, you wouldn't want to be within 100km of where it was aimed, and even at 200km it'd be unpleasant. Make that a 10m diameter lead sphere and it'd make a huge mess at 100km and a mess at 700km. You have to increase the diameter to 29m to get an impact, and when you do, it's one heck of an impact, looking like the Terminator 2 nuke dream 700km away. Even 2600km away, it'll break your windows, and the 952 km3 = 228 miles3 of melted or vaporised rock (of which roughly half remains in the crater) will probably result in some climatic effects. Compared to the up to 10 cubic miles of ash ejected in "very large" historic volcanic eruptions, that's quite a lot. It's not the same figure, so it's not a good direct comparison, but it's still a very big number. Maybe the volume of the transient crater is a better number to compare. Treating it as a foreshortened hemisphere, that's 15118 km3. That's 5.4 times Mount Toba and Mount Toba ... *google* *google* ... hmm. Mount Toba made it easier to accurately date lake sediment cores but apparently didn't cause a bottleneck after all.
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Re: Core orbiting planet.

Postby commodorejohn » Sun Sep 11, 2016 12:06 am UTC

Clearly.
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Re: Core orbiting planet.

Postby Zohar » Sun Sep 11, 2016 2:44 am UTC

I'm not sure that's true. So GPS is off, let's say it's off by a lot - so what? In theory pokemon would still spawn in your imagined location.
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Re: Core orbiting planet.

Postby Xanthir » Sun Sep 11, 2016 6:37 am UTC

Well, depends on the damage. If it's totally destroyed, the game won't work at all anymore. If it's just really wonky, it might flicker you around too fast; it'll always be convinced you're driving (so no egg progress) and you won't stay near a Pokestop long enough to collect anything, so you'll run out of Pokeballs.
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Re: Core orbiting planet.

Postby andykhang » Sun Sep 11, 2016 8:40 am UTC

Since when does "Apocalysptic terror" became "no more GO"? :)

Though yeah, I would predict that in the first few minute, the remnant of the magnetic's power will at least pry the electronic system right of the bat, if the sun isn't already doing so. The Pokemon GO would be long gone by then.

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Re: 2600 km in 1/30 second.

Postby andykhang » Sun Sep 11, 2016 8:42 am UTC

...I'm kinda confused about what you're saying here.

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Re: 2600 km in 1/30 second.

Postby Neil_Boekend » Sun Sep 11, 2016 9:51 am UTC

andykhang wrote:...I'm kinda confused about what you're saying here.

Meteorites as a model for the effects of the interaction of our person with the atmosphere.
Which seems effective.
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Re: Core orbiting planet.

Postby Soupspoon » Sun Sep 11, 2016 10:17 am UTC

But I could probably continue claiming Geohashes, for as long as maps (paper if necessary) still sufficiently match the reforming geography. And with the stock exchanges on permanent hiatus, I can calculate a long string of future hashes, in advance, at least for while the date part still makes any sort of sense1. A win for Randall over Nntendo!

1 Collapsing surface means shorter days, assuming missing core momentum automagiced away without adjustment and it is just the shell that is doing the ice-dancer thing, so there may become a daily mismatch of actual rotations vs 365.2425ish segments round the Earth's orbit. I suggest we start adding leap-days to the end of all months, all the time, however many that are needed, to get the first of the next month lines up with then astronomical date (if we don't just stick with that and ignore day/night cycles where inconvenient). And then there's the long-term effects of the stably-orbitting (Moon-avoiding... anti-Lunar point?) core tidally slowing everything down again through its own tidal forces, but I've got more time to consider the consequences of that.

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Re: Core orbiting planet.

Postby andykhang » Mon Sep 12, 2016 10:42 am UTC

What would happen with the core itself though? Would being a giant ball of metal in the sky being bombarded by radiation and EM wave have any effect on it and the Earth?

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Re: Core orbiting planet.

Postby Neil_Boekend » Mon Sep 12, 2016 12:12 pm UTC

andykhang wrote:What would happen with the core itself though? Would being a giant ball of metal in the sky being bombarded by radiation and EM wave have any effect on it and the Earth?
It'd melt fully, because the pressure drops. The energy required for melting would cool it a little, but I think it'd still glow bright white, being 6000 °C now.
EM radiation etc would have little effect on it. It's a big ball of mostly iron.
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Re: Core orbiting planet.

Postby gmalivuk » Mon Sep 12, 2016 12:28 pm UTC

Removing the core would have a much greater effect on Earth than putting the core in orbit, and in orbit its temperature (initially, at least) would have a much greater effect than its gravity. In either case, though, itsdistance from Earth would also be a rather important factor.
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Re: Core orbiting planet.

Postby andykhang » Mon Sep 12, 2016 1:07 pm UTC

Then what happen when the core:

1. Is barely out of it Roche limit.

2. At the moon orbit.

Which came first though?

Edit; Also, what happen if it crashed into the earth?

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Re: Core orbiting planet.

Postby ijuin » Mon Sep 12, 2016 8:11 pm UTC

If it crashed into Earth after falling most of the way down Earth's gravity well, then it would be like the original moon-creating giant impact all over again.

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Re: Core orbiting planet.

Postby Tyndmyr » Mon Sep 12, 2016 9:05 pm UTC

ijuin wrote:If it crashed into Earth after falling most of the way down Earth's gravity well, then it would be like the original moon-creating giant impact all over again.


No pokemon at all would be caught that day.

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Re: Core orbiting planet.

Postby Soupspoon » Mon Sep 12, 2016 9:53 pm UTC

Gotta catch the core!


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