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Why would I need to blow up the moon?

Posted: Tue Feb 23, 2010 1:16 am UTC
by genghis007
Last summer I wrote a paper on the moon for my Physics project. Part of my research was done with the help from the fora, the original thread can be found here. My tutor was very impressed with what I came up with and this week he's advised me to use it as a basis for my assessed coursework for the course.

I've come up with the concept of blowing up the moon. It gives me a great way of working in my current paper, basically all the facts and history of the moon, whilst giving me an excellent twist to research. Apparently this isn't good enough however, according to my tutor I need a reason to blow up the moon. Nothing like "because I want to" or "because I can" or "because I'm a demented evil genius". It needs to be a scientific reason. I've cited the recent NASA impact searching for ice, but I'm struggling to justify blowing up an entire satellite just to see if there's a bit of ice in the middle.

Has anyone here got any ideas that could help me out? If so, could you please state the science behind them, and if possible link some sources that help prove your point. I understand that this is quite alot to ask, so just the idea is important, with any other info as added and welcomed bonus.

Cheers :)

Re: Why would I need to blow up the moon?

Posted: Tue Feb 23, 2010 1:19 am UTC
by Meteorswarm
genghis007 wrote:Last summer I wrote a paper on the moon for my Physics project. Part of my research was done with the help from the fora, the original thread can be found here. My tutor was very impressed with what I came up with and this week he's advised me to use it as a basis for my assessed coursework for the course.

I've come up with the concept of blowing up the moon. It gives me a great way of working in my current paper, basically all the facts and history of the moon, whilst giving me an excellent twist to research. Apparently this isn't good enough however, according to my tutor I need a reason to blow up the moon. Nothing like "because I want to" or "because I can" or "because I'm a demented evil genius". It needs to be a scientific reason. I've cited the recent NASA impact searching for ice, but I'm struggling to justify blowing up an entire satellite just to see if there's a bit of ice in the middle.

Has anyone here got any ideas that could help me out? If so, could you please state the science behind them, and if possible link some sources that help prove your point. I understand that this is quite alot to ask, so just the idea is important, with any other info as added and welcomed bonus.

Cheers :)


You could be a mad timekeeper, who detests the idea that our day grows slightly longer every moment.

Re: Why would I need to blow up the moon?

Posted: Tue Feb 23, 2010 1:29 am UTC
by BlackSails
You could have a terrible reaction to sunlight and want to make sure the sun is blotted out from the sky

Re: Why would I need to blow up the moon?

Posted: Tue Feb 23, 2010 1:49 am UTC
by genghis007
BlackSails wrote:You could have a terrible reaction to sunlight and want to make sure the sun is blotted out from the sky


How would blowing up the moon blot the sun out from the sky?

Meteorswarm wrote:You could be a mad timekeeper, who detests the idea that our day grows slightly longer every moment.


Possible, maybe a OCD timekeeper who detests his atomic clock going wrong?

Re: Why would I need to blow up the moon?

Posted: Tue Feb 23, 2010 1:55 am UTC
by BlackSails
genghis007 wrote:
BlackSails wrote:You could have a terrible reaction to sunlight and want to make sure the sun is blotted out from the sky


How would blowing up the moon blot the sun out from the sky?


There is going to be a very large amount of dust

Re: Why would I need to blow up the moon?

Posted: Tue Feb 23, 2010 2:09 am UTC
by genghis007
BlackSails wrote:
Spoiler:
genghis007 wrote:
BlackSails wrote:You could have a terrible reaction to sunlight and want to make sure the sun is blotted out from the sky


How would blowing up the moon blot the sun out from the sky?


There is going to be a very large amount of dust


good point, but there are also going to be many large pieces of debris on a collision course with Earth, I doubt the dust is going to be our biggest problem

Re: Why would I need to blow up the moon?

Posted: Tue Feb 23, 2010 2:12 am UTC
by phlip
Do it as a scaled down trial run in preparation for destroying the Earth. Which is clearly something worth doing.

Re: Why would I need to blow up the moon?

Posted: Tue Feb 23, 2010 2:38 am UTC
by GeorgeH
Hollywood Fantasy: We blow up the moon to create a meteor shield with the fragments.

Science Fantasy: We implode the moon into an artificial singularity that we use as a gravitational slingshot spaceship launcher.

Political Fantasy: We blow up the moon because its colonists declare war on Swaziland and start carpet-bombing the earth with moon-boulders.

Geological Fantasy: We discover a big chunk of unobtanium at the moon's core and we want it yesterday.

Alien Fantasy: We discover that humanity is locked in an "Alien Zoo" and the only way to escape is to destroy the control center buried inside the moon.

Mad Science Fantasy: The a-holes at CERN get bored with the LHC and build an even bigger particle smasher, only to rip a Spock-shaped hole in the space-time continuum. The only way to save the platypuses is to launch the Anti-Spock into the moon.

Baker Fantasy: We detect a Rama-Class starship passing through our solar system and find out it's carrying lots of delicious pecan pie. We blow up the moon to distract the ship while stealing the pie.

Mythology Fantasy: Because Mondays suck.

Re: Why would I need to blow up the moon?

Posted: Tue Feb 23, 2010 2:47 am UTC
by genghis007
GeorgeH wrote:
Spoiler:
Hollywood Fantasy: We blow up the moon to create a meteor shield with the fragments.

Science Fantasy: We implode the moon into an artificial singularity that we use as a gravitational slingshot spaceship launcher.

Political Fantasy: We blow up the moon because its colonists declare war on Swaziland and start carpet-bombing the earth with moon-boulders.

Geological Fantasy: We discover a big chunk of unobtanium at the moon's core and we want it yesterday.

Alien Fantasy: We discover that humanity is locked in an "Alien Zoo" and the only way to escape is to destroy the control center buried inside the moon.

Mad Science Fantasy: The a-holes at CERN get bored with the LHC and build an even bigger particle smasher, only to rip a Spock-shaped hole in the space-time continuum. The only way to save the platypuses is to launch the Anti-Spock into the moon.

Baker Fantasy: We detect a Rama-Class starship passing through our solar system and find out it's carrying lots of delicious pecan pie. We blow up the moon to distract the ship while stealing the pie.

Mythology Fantasy: Because Mondays suck.


I'll pass them on, I'd certainly be interested in the Mad Science Fantasy, we've been slagging of CERN since the beginning of the year.


phlip wrote:Do it as a scaled down trial run in preparation for destroying the Earth. Which is clearly something worth doing.


Great idea! Maybe not a trial run for Earth, but really what good's Mercury doing for anyone? Also the data on the website could help me alot, thanks :D


Any other (evil)geniuses out there?

Re: Why would I need to blow up the moon?

Posted: Tue Feb 23, 2010 3:00 am UTC
by OdedO
To stop the tide, so you can finally built the ultimate sand castle, and live in it.

As a desperate attempt to prevent menstruation from all girlhood for eternity.

To piss off Goa full moon party goers.

To never again turn into a wolf.

Re: Why would I need to blow up the moon?

Posted: Tue Feb 23, 2010 3:16 am UTC
by Bassoon
You hate tides, but a high level of water that stays at constant height doesn't really bug you.

Re: Why would I need to blow up the moon?

Posted: Tue Feb 23, 2010 3:16 am UTC
by DreadArchon
I'm liking "to build something else with the material" from that link.

Re: Why would I need to blow up the moon?

Posted: Tue Feb 23, 2010 4:11 am UTC
by Izawwlgood
I second the 'build something with it' thing. I recall a novel in which some government had become so large, it resorted to blowing up a planet and turning the moonlets into it's various offices. So a few hollowed out moons became 'Accounting' and a few others became 'Education' and a few others became 'Military Research', so on.

However, you should be aware that removing Luna from it's orbit with Earth would likely have some pretty devastating effects. Our planet sort of relies on tides for much of oceanic life, and I'd wager things would get pretty bad pretty fast without it. I'm sure there are other things the moon does in terms of regulating Earth orbit as well, like stabilizing it's precession maybe?

Re: Why would I need to blow up the moon?

Posted: Tue Feb 23, 2010 4:50 am UTC
by Torchship
Another vote for " blow it up and make stuff from the remnants". You can make a lot of habitats, or spaceships, or orbitals or whatever out of ~10^22 kilos of lunar rock. O'course, the moon isn't a very good target for this (lunar rock is mostly - you guessed it - rock, and not a great deal of metals or volatiles or useful things of that nature. Of course, not-a-great-deal of 10^22 kilos is still quite a lot...); Mercury, or one of the outer moons would give you more useful raw materials for your planet-exploding buck.


Izawwlgood wrote:However, you should be aware that removing Luna from it's orbit with Earth would likely have some pretty devastating effects. Our planet sort of relies on tides for much of oceanic life, and I'd wager things would get pretty bad pretty fast without it. I'm sure there are other things the moon does in terms of regulating Earth orbit as well, like stabilizing it's precession maybe?

I'd say by the time destroying something the size of the moon is a practical consideration, humanity (or whoever) will have more than enough power to fix all these problems, or simply not care.

Re: Why would I need to blow up the moon?

Posted: Tue Feb 23, 2010 5:00 am UTC
by McDoom
Check out Impact.

Long story short; Meteor hits moon, gravity fails, etc...

Proves to be interesting.

Re: Why would I need to blow up the moon?

Posted: Tue Feb 23, 2010 5:20 am UTC
by Izawwlgood
Torchship wrote:I'd say by the time destroying something the size of the moon is a practical consideration, humanity (or whoever) will have more than enough power to fix all these problems, or simply not care.

This is pure conjecture on my part, but I'm feel it would take a lot less effort to blow the moon to smithereens then it would take to make an artificial tide on Earth (as in, without the moon, and still having a tide). Just a hunch.
Furthermore, the two are tidally locked; changing that CoM would likely have other consequences, right?

Just because we have the technology to blow something up doesn't mean we have the technology to fix it as it falls.

Re: Why would I need to blow up the moon?

Posted: Tue Feb 23, 2010 5:54 am UTC
by Torchship
Izawwlgood wrote:
Torchship wrote:I'd say by the time destroying something the size of the moon is a practical consideration, humanity (or whoever) will have more than enough power to fix all these problems, or simply not care.

This is pure conjecture on my part, but I'm feel it would take a lot less effort to blow the moon to smithereens then it would take to make an artificial tide on Earth (as in, without the moon, and still having a tide). Just a hunch.


Oh yeah, I was thinking more of altering animals so they don't need the tide to reproduce/survive and quieting the ensuing volcanic activity and such, more than creating an artificial tide. Short of devoting a good portion of the moon's mass to creating a new, smaller, closer moon or some absurdly powerful gravity-generation technology, creating an artificial tide is undoable, as best I can tell.

Izawwlgood wrote:Furthermore, the two are tidally locked; changing that CoM would likely have other consequences, right?


The moon is tidally locked to the earth, the earth is not locked to the moon. However, the moon is working on it; the day gets ever so slightly longer as time goes on. I do believe the moon helps stabilize the earth's axis, but that's something that a civilization regularly engaging in geocide should have no real problem with.

Just because we have the technology to blow something up doesn't mean we have the technology to fix it as it falls.


Assuming there isn't some fantastic breakthrough in power generation in the near future, I think it's quite reasonable to assume that humanity's ability to cope with the ensuing disaster will increase at roughly the same rate. WIkipedia says that humanity uses 5*10^20-ish joules/year at the moment. My very rough calculations (my skill at bracketing has decreased significantly since I discovered Mathematica...) show that it will take roughly a billion times that amount of energy to completely destroy the moon (I'm assuming that the 'big bang' approach is preferred; QNTM.org has a number of vaguely plausible ways of doing it for a smaller initial energy investment, though much less impressively). Even counting humanity's impressive growth rate, I'd say we have a while before that becomes a problem, giving us plenty of time to work out how to reprogram a bunch of fish to not need moonlight to spawn, or somesuch.

McDoom wrote:Check out Impact.

Long story short; Meteor hits moon, gravity fails, etc...

Proves to be interesting.


Whut.

Re: Why would I need to blow up the moon?

Posted: Tue Feb 23, 2010 6:02 am UTC
by PhoenixEnigma
Another possible reason to destroy the moon would be to break it into manageable chunks to harvest it's kinetic and gravitational potential energy. How much net energy could be actually be gained after having to blow the up the moon in the first place is left as an exercise for the reader.

Re: Why would I need to blow up the moon?

Posted: Tue Feb 23, 2010 6:11 am UTC
by Izawwlgood
Torchship wrote:Oh yeah, I was thinking more of altering animals...

Yeah, fair enough. I suppose since this is all conjecture, altering biomes is about as 'energetically favorable/farfetched' as blastifying Luna. Based on the napkin calculation you provided, which I would only vaguely guess at how to go about trying myself, I suppose my estimate of the energy to blow up Luna was pretty grossly undershot. Presumably however, our ability to pack crazier things together for more insane explosions could potentially outstrip out ability to manage the trajectories of debris. But yeah, we're clever, and like our toys.

Torchship wrote:geocide

I like this word.

Re: Why would I need to blow up the moon?

Posted: Tue Feb 23, 2010 6:28 am UTC
by Torchship
Izawwlgood wrote:
Torchship wrote:Oh yeah, I was thinking more of altering animals...

Yeah, fair enough. I suppose since this is all conjecture, altering biomes is about as 'energetically favorable/farfetched' as blastifying Luna. Based on the napkin calculation you provided, which I would only vaguely guess at how to go about trying myself, I suppose my estimate of the energy to blow up Luna was pretty grossly undershot. Presumably however, our ability to pack crazier things together for more insane explosions could potentially outstrip out ability to manage the trajectories of debris. But yeah, we're clever, and like our toys.


Actually, this is a pretty good point, and one I didn't consider. Taking the moon out in one go is going to be sending debris off at significant percentages of C (depending on just how overkill the method used is, and precisely what the method is. For example, throwing a really fast moving asteroid at the moon is going to sent significant amounts of debris everywhere at c-fractional velocities, while a large volume of explosives at the moon's core with the same energy is just going to make the entire moon explode at a mere few k's/second.), quite a lot of which is going to be aimed at the earth. I think even the best defence system is going to have problems with deflecting (destroying it, however, is both very easy and totally useless. There isn't a great deal of difference between gas and a solid at these velocities) a cloud of rock the size of a small continent moving at 1/3c with 5 seconds warning...

Torchship wrote:geocide

I like this word.[/quote]

Unfortunately I cannot claim to have invented it. QNTM.org came up with it long before I ever considered the idea...

Re: Why would I need to blow up the moon?

Posted: Tue Feb 23, 2010 8:02 am UTC
by Twistar
Because some Saiyan turned into a giant primate and you can't think of another way to stop his rampage

Re: Why would I need to blow up the moon?

Posted: Tue Feb 23, 2010 11:03 am UTC
by Goldstein
qntm wrote:Obstructing my view of Venus

Can I just point out here that this is a singularly stupid reason to destroy a whole planet. As viewed from Mars, both the Earth and Venus are absolutely tiny. Not only is it highly unlikely that all three would EVER line up so perfectly that the Earth obstructs Venus, after a few hours they would have moved apart and Venus would be clearly visible again.

What the hell? I don't live on Mars. Earth obstructs my view of Venus about half the time; qntm's reasoning here isn't relevant to me or anyone I know.

Re: Why would I need to blow up the moon?

Posted: Tue Feb 23, 2010 12:17 pm UTC
by Azrael001
Izawwlgood wrote:I second the 'build something with it' thing. I recall a novel in which some government had become so large, it resorted to blowing up a planet and turning the moonlets into it's various offices. So a few hollowed out moons became 'Accounting' and a few others became 'Education' and a few others became 'Military Research', so on.

However, you should be aware that removing Luna from it's orbit with Earth would likely have some pretty devastating effects. Our planet sort of relies on tides for much of oceanic life, and I'd wager things would get pretty bad pretty fast without it. I'm sure there are other things the moon does in terms of regulating Earth orbit as well, like stabilizing it's precession maybe?
Short sighted bureaucracy seems capable of ignoring the results with hilarious consequences.

Re: Why would I need to blow up the moon?

Posted: Tue Feb 23, 2010 2:14 pm UTC
by Velifer
Goldstein wrote:What the hell? I don't live on Mars. Earth obstructs my view of Venus about half the time; qntm's reasoning here isn't relevant to me or anyone I know.


Image
GTFO!

Re: Why would I need to blow up the moon?

Posted: Tue Feb 23, 2010 2:18 pm UTC
by Mr_Rose
Goldstein wrote:
qntm wrote:Obstructing my view of Venus

Can I just point out here that this is a singularly stupid reason to destroy a whole planet. As viewed from Mars, both the Earth and Venus are absolutely tiny. Not only is it highly unlikely that all three would EVER line up so perfectly that the Earth obstructs Venus, after a few hours they would have moved apart and Venus would be clearly visible again.

What the hell? I don't live on Mars. Earth obstructs my view of Venus about half the time; qntm's reasoning here isn't relevant to me or anyone I know.

More to the point, that little guy who wanted to blow up the Earth last time didn't live on Mars either. He just had a bubble-gum dispenser full of Instant Martians which, oddly enough, looked nothing like him, stashed on his weird wall-less orbital observatory. In fact, canonically, he was using Mars as his private zoo...

[/waytoomuchinfo]

Re: Why would I need to blow up the moon?

Posted: Tue Feb 23, 2010 2:24 pm UTC
by rocketrat
I think "drunken, 3am decision" counts as a good reason to blow up the moon.

Also, a sudden desperate need to defend against a gamma ray burst? Using a cloud of dust and debris.
I don't know how to detect the burst that far in advance though.

Re: Why would I need to blow up the moon?

Posted: Tue Feb 23, 2010 3:02 pm UTC
by Fqubed
rocketrat wrote:I think "drunken, 3am decision" counts as a good reason to blow up the moon.

Also, a sudden desperate need to defend against a gamma ray burst? Using a cloud of dust and debris.
I don't know how to detect the burst that far in advance though.


Along this line of thought, you could use it as a shield for a solar storm that was detected to be imminent, It does add the additional problem of having to turn it into dust or small particles, but isn't that what blowing stuff up is all about? Also along this thought keep in mind that you can't use so much nuclear power that the results are worse than sitting and waiting for the solar flare to fry earth up.

Re: Why would I need to blow up the moon?

Posted: Tue Feb 23, 2010 5:01 pm UTC
by Turtlewing
it's been schedueled for demolition to make way for a bypass? (everyone knows you've got to build bypasses)

Werewolves?

A show of force? (you can't blow up the planet full of people you want to oppress as that would defeat the purpose of oppressing them, but you need to prove that you could or they wouln't believe you)

To win a bet?

Because you can't let the Chineese have it?

As part of an elaborate engineered disaster for the purpose of preventing global nuclear war by giving everyone a common problem big enough to suppress their petty differences and play nice for a while?

To do enough eccological damage that the evil alien invaders wouln't want Earth anymore?

Re: Why would I need to blow up the moon?

Posted: Tue Feb 23, 2010 5:16 pm UTC
by Fume Troll
Best I can come up with is a cunning plan to thwart global warming. Smashing up the moon will spread it out into an Earth encircling protective sphere of rocks and dust, which will partially obscure the earth from the Sun. It's doubly cunning, as over time, through collisions, the moon stuff will form rings, letting more sunlight back in once we've sorted out the C02. Maybe it'll even re-form as a single satellite one day.

Maybe.

Re: Why would I need to blow up the moon?

Posted: Tue Feb 23, 2010 5:25 pm UTC
by Plasma Man
You're determined to get the best tan possible, thus want to remove solar eclipses. Hey, that's valuable tanning time that's lost there.

More sensibly, the origin of the moon is currently uncertain, so blowing it up would allow you to access material from its core, possibly solving the mystery.

Re: Why would I need to blow up the moon?

Posted: Tue Feb 23, 2010 5:47 pm UTC
by Link
-To create the most spectacular fireworks in human history.
-To see what happens to life on Earth if there are no tides.
-To mine the materials of its deep insides.
-To learn more about the birth of planets, moons and other rocky bodies.
-To prove we can.
-Because it's the closest "safe" large solid rocky body to test your planetary destroyer on, and you don't feel like spending more on fuel to destroy something further away.

I will leave it as an exercise to the reader to determine the scientific validity of these reasons.

Re: Why would I need to blow up the moon?

Posted: Tue Feb 23, 2010 5:56 pm UTC
by Technical Ben
rocketrat wrote:I think "drunken, 3am decision" counts as a good reason to blow up the moon.

Also, a sudden desperate need to defend against a gamma ray burst? Using a cloud of dust and debris.
I don't know how to detect the burst that far in advance though.


That sounds like a great idea. If your sci-fi story has FTL travel or communication, you could get an early warning and have to prepare. Without that, can you see when a star is about to go nova far enough in advance? (oh wait, we know very little about most GRB right?)

Re: Why would I need to blow up the moon?

Posted: Tue Feb 23, 2010 6:00 pm UTC
by Link
Addendum to my above post: no man is a true man who does not see pretty lights as a sufficient reason to destroy a heavenly body.

Re: Why would I need to blow up the moon?

Posted: Tue Feb 23, 2010 6:08 pm UTC
by hawkmp4
To defeat the terrorists?

On a more serious note...
Testing a weapon that's going to be needed to destroy an asteroid that's going to hit Earth some time later?

Re: Why would I need to blow up the moon?

Posted: Tue Feb 23, 2010 6:10 pm UTC
by Lazar
hawkmp4 wrote:Testing a weapon that's going to be needed to destroy an asteroid that's going to hit Earth some time later?

That seems remarkably counterproductive.

Re: Why would I need to blow up the moon?

Posted: Tue Feb 23, 2010 6:25 pm UTC
by Mr_Rose
Lazar wrote:
hawkmp4 wrote:Testing a weapon that's going to be needed to destroy an asteroid that's going to hit Earth some time later?

That seems remarkably counterproductive.

OK, testing an asteroid-buster on an asteroid, except it missed.
And someone loaded a few hundred thousand times too much explosive into it.
Total coincidence, could have happened to anybody.

Re: Why would I need to blow up the moon?

Posted: Tue Feb 23, 2010 6:47 pm UTC
by Omegaton
Turtlewing wrote:Werewolves?

Spoiler:
Image

Re: Why would I need to blow up the moon?

Posted: Tue Feb 23, 2010 8:33 pm UTC
by You, sir, name?
Blow up the moon in a misplaced effort to prove you're sufficiently manly despite having a somewhat less than average-length penis.

That motivation more or less makes the world go round.

Re: Why would I need to blow up the moon?

Posted: Tue Feb 23, 2010 9:35 pm UTC
by iop
To combat global warming while getting rid of the world's nuclear warheads in a convenient way (it's better than dumping them into the ocean, or than to disassemble them by hand one by one).

Re: Why would I need to blow up the moon?

Posted: Tue Feb 23, 2010 9:44 pm UTC
by Goldstein
Sick of hearing about astrology? Blowing up the moon could be the first step in getting rid of all observable bodies beyond the Earth.