Why People Don't Voluntarily Spend Much Time With Me or Why I'm Pretty Sure No Romance Is in My Future

>> Tuesday, August 6, 2013

I am weird. Yes, yes, if you've been here before, you've probably caught on to some of that. But, no, I'm seriously weird.

For those of you who were (kindly) thinking what a shame it was that I was alone (most likely for the duration) and wondered how that could be, well, I might just have the answer for you.

I watch movies. Not as many as I used to and far more children's movies now than the action/humor/romantic type movies that would normally be my inclination (if can get all three in one movie: SCORE!). But every once in a while I get to watch a grown up movie, so that's usually a treat. I'd bought a ticket, actually, to see GI Joe: Retaliation (as part of a summer movie program benefiting autism research but had to give the ticket to someone else because, ironically, I lost the babysitting of my autistic son at short notice). Don't grieve, though, because I just "rented" it from amazon streaming video which was, I'll admit, far more convenient and likely as enjoyable without the expensive and ineligible popcorn.

Now, I had seen Olympus Has Fallen as part of this series, which was a complete waste, just like Die Hard but minus any entertainment, charm or logic. My BS meter was pegged out early and, when I left to use the bathroom halfway through without worrying about anything I had missed, I decided that included the rest of the movie and left. Too stupid to waste my time.

I sort of enjoyed GI Joe: Retaliation. Not as bad as the first one (which, to this day, I can't figure out why I disliked so much. It had all the elements, including the surreal factor that lets me forgive the unlikely scenarios and ridiculous weapons, but was missing something that left it flat for me). This one was better than that, but not great either. 

Hey, wake up, I'm getting to the weird part. Not saying I'm not boring but that's not the only reason people avoid me in droves.

Near the end of the movie, the big move by the bad guys is to drop rods of something on a single key city of several nuclear nations. I vaguely remember platinum as the material, but the logic behind platinum escapes me. Might have been something else, though. Anyway, they're "dropping" them from Low Earth Orbit (LEO) and, at 8 km/s^2, they have enough kinetic energy to bring the nuclear nations (that had, just moments before, thousands of megaton nuclear weapons in their control) to their knees threatening just one city a nation.

And there went the BS meter. But that's not the weird part (since most of the people I know are smart enough to have had their BS meter pegged there or before). The weird part is that I immediately looked up the energy equivalent of nuclear weapons (since I don't know crap like that off the top of my head. Sure, I took nuclear physics in college mumble mumble years ago, but that was pretty much benign uses of nuclear phenomena, not bomb-building 101. Plus, it was mumble mumble years ago.)

Just during the time credits rolled through, I had looked up, written up and calculated this:

4.184 TJ=10^12 calories=1 KT bomb
6 MT bomb = 25104 10^12 J = 1 MT of bomb mass (highest efficiency)

At orbital velocity and no air friction, impact energy using orbital velocity (8 km/s^2 which they mentioned) would be:

8000^2*.5*X=25104x10^12 with X as the mass of the projectile

X=784,500,000 kg for 1 MT nuclear weapon

This equates to about ~8% of the largest nuclear bomb ever tested.

And about 40% of the size of the largest nuclear bomb we ever tested.

But the projectile is crazy stupid huge. Biggest payload on the biggest rocket that made multiple trips is 120,000 kg so about 6537 Saturn V launches JUST TO GET a single payload that drops as a bomb.

So, yeah, BS. And mind-bogglingly inefficient. And hardly enough to impress the nuclear nations.
I love Wikipedia. Everything I needed and easy to find in seconds, then just a few seconds on my computer's calculator.

Now the notion of taking something from a great height and slamming it into earth with a yield comparable to nuclear weapons is not without merit. Heinlein did it in Moon Is a Harsh Mistress and quite plausibly, too. But then, he could do math in that he did it from a much greater "height"and used massive projectiles of readily available moon chunks. Not the same thing.  Heinlein was good enough with science, he could show his work in novels and not have real scientists roll their eyes but nod along.

Kids were already whining for a bath when the credits ended so I started one and as it filled, I did these calculations for comparison (note I wasn't even close to overfilling the bathtub):

ISS is ~450,000 kg and, at that orbit, has a potential energy of about 62,600,000 J/kg is about 28.17 TJ or about 0.11% of the theoretical bomb I postulated above if the WHOLE ISS came crashing down. It's about a 6 KT bomb, less than half Hiroshima (assuming it came down in one tidy chunk which, boys and girls, ain't happenin'. And it isn't slowed by air friction (which it would be) and one could control the reentry and landing of such a beastie easily - which we can't)

Did I mention it was all BS?
My counselor suggested I find a group of peers to hang with. Really? Where? The local sanitarium?

And that is why I spend my nights alone most nights and for the foreseeable future. Alone but with two small children who still don't talk.

Or maybe they're just afraid to.


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