Posted by: kshayes513 | May 28, 2009

How to Blow Up A Planet

How about some world UN-building today for a change?

Even if you haven’t seen the new Star Trek, by now you’ve almost certainly seen that clip in the trailer, showing a planet collapsing into itself. Cool? Yes! Realistic? Not so much, according to Sci Fi Wire science columnist Wil McCarthy.

For anyone who’s seriously thinking of destroying a planet in their game or story, McCarthy just posted an essay on the real-world physics of destroying a planet. He goes into some fascinating detail about what forces would be required, and gives a step-by-step of what might happen to an earthlike planet with a singularity at its core. Here’s an excerpt:

“In the case of an explosion, the energies involved are colossal. The Earth (for example) weighs 6 billion quadrillion tons, and even if we ignore the force required to break it into small pieces, we still need to accelerate every scrap of it to escape velocity—over 10,000 meters per second—in every possible direction, to overcome their collective gravity and keep them from falling back together again. That means almost a quadrillion quadrillion gigajoules of kinetic energy. That’s the equivalent of every lightning storm on Earth for a million quadrillion years, or the total heat output of the sun for three full decades. Yeah. And of course, to achieve the required visual effect we need to deliver all that energy in a fraction of a second, so even if the Death Star were made entirely out of fully charged Toyota Prius batteries, you’d still need 50 billion billion Death Stars firing simultaneously to make it happen.

Do you get what I’m saying here?”

You can read the rest of his tasty planetary physics ramble here.

It’s so cool, it makes me want to destroy a planet, just so I can write about it!


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