10 Ways To Destroy Earth

Here are 10 (hilarious) methods to destroy earth from site- http://qntm.org/destroy.

  1. Annihilated by an equivalent quantity of antimatter

    You will need: An entire planet Earth made from antimatter

    Antimatter – the most explosive substance possible – can be manufactured in small quantities using any large particle accelerator, but this will take preposterous amounts of time to produce the required amounts. If you can create the appropriate machinery, it may be possible to find or scrape together an approximately Earth-sized chunk of rock and simply to “flip” it all through a fourth spacial dimension, turning it all to antimatter at once.

    Method: Once you’ve generated your antimatter, probably in space, just launch it en masse towards Earth. The resulting release of energy (obeying Einstein’s famous mass-energy equation, E=mc2) is equivalent to the amount the Sun outputs in some 89 million years. Alternatively, if your matter-flipping machinery is a little more flexible, turn half the Earth into antimatter (say, the Western Hemisphere) and watch the fireworks.

    Earth’s final resting place: When matter and antimatter collide, they completely annihilate each other, leaving nothing but energy. All that would be left of Earth is a scintillating flash of light expanding across space forever. This method is one of the most permanent and total on this list, as the very matter which makes up the Earth ceases to exist, making it virtually impossible to even reassemble the planet afterwards.

    Feasibility rating: 2/10. It IS possible to create antimatter, so, technically, this method IS possible. But since the proposed matter-to-antimatter flipping machine is probably complete science fiction, we’re looking at stupid, stupid amounts of time to pull this off.

    Comments: With a significantly smaller amount of antimatter, you can simply blow the Earth up – see later.

    Source: This method suggested by Thomas Wootten.

  2. Fissioned

    You will need: a universal fission machine (e.g. a particle accelerator), an unimaginable amount of energy

    Method: Take every single atom on planet Earth and individually split each one down to become hydrogen and helium. Fissioning heavier elements to become hydrogen and helium is the opposite of the self-sustaining reaction that powers the Sun: it requires you to put energy in which is why the energy requirements here are so vast.

    Earth’s final resting place: While Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune are gas giants composed primarily of hydrogen and helium, they are massive enough to actually hold on to their tenuous atmospheres. The Earth is not; the gases would dissipate away. You’d get a wispy mess of gas where there should have been a planet.

    Feasibility rating: 2/10. Technically possible, but, again, hopelessly, mind-bogglingly inefficient and time-consuming. You’re looking at billions of years minimum, folks.

    Source: This method suggested by John Routledge.

  3. Sucked into a microscopic black hole

    You will need: a microscopic black hole.

    Note that black holes are not eternal, they evaporate due to Hawking radiation. For your average black hole this takes an unimaginable amount of time, but for really small ones it could happen almost instantaneously, as evaporation time is dependent on mass. Therefore your microscopic black hole must have greater than a certain threshold mass, roughly equal to the mass of Mount Everest.

    Creating a microscopic black hole is tricky, since one needs a reasonable amount of neutronium, but may possibly be achievable by jamming large numbers of atomic nuclei together until they stick. This is left as an exercise to the reader.

    Method: simply place your black hole on the surface of the Earth and wait. Black holes are of such high density that they pass through ordinary matter like a stone through the air. The black hole will plummet through the ground, eating its way to the centre of the Earth and all the way through to the other side: then, it’ll oscillate back, over and over like a matter-absorbing pendulum. Eventually it will come to rest at the core, having absorbed enough matter to slow it down. Then you just need to wait, while it sits and consumes matter until the whole Earth is gone.

    Earth’s final resting place: a singularity with a radius of about nine millimetres, which will then proceed to happily orbit the Sun as normal.

    Feasibility rating: 3/10. Highly, highly unlikely. But not impossible.

    Comments: Hmm. The problem is, the microscopic black hole would still be in hydrostatic equilibrium, so it would still qualify as a planet according to the IAU!

    Source: The Dark Side Of The Sun, by Terry Pratchett. It is true that the microscopic black hole idea is an age-old science fiction mainstay which predates Pratchett by a long time, he was my original source for the idea, so that’s what I’m putting.

  4. Cooked in a solar oven

    You will need: Means for focusing a good few percent of the Sun’s energy output directly on the Earth.

    What I’m talking about here is: mirrors, and lots of them. Intercept several decent sized asteroids for raw materials and start cranking out kilometre-square sheets of lightweight reflective material (aluminised mylar, aluminium foil, nickel foil, iron foil or whatever you can scrape together). They need to be capable of changing focus direction at will because, while a few may be placed at the Earth-Sun system’s Lagrangian points, the vast majority cannot be stationary in space and the relative positions of the Earth and Sun will be shifting as time passes, so attach a few manoeuvering thrusters and a communications and navigation system to each sheet.

    Preliminary calculations suggest you would need roughly two trillion square kilometres of mirror.

    Method: Command your focusing array to concentrate as much solar energy as you can directly on the Earth – perhaps on its core, perhaps at a point on its surface. So the theory goes, this will cause the Earth to generally increase in temperature until it completely boils away, becoming a gas cloud.

    A variation on this method involves turning the Sun into a gigantic hydrogen gas laser.

    Earth’s final resting place: A gas cloud.

    Feasibility rating: 3/10. The major problem here is: What’s to stop the matter cooling and becoming a planet again? In fact, once the top layer of planet becomes gaseous, what would compel it to vent into space rather than remaining on the surface, absorbing more heat and preventing the lower layers from even being heated? Unless the amount of heat put in was really immense, all you’d get is a gas planet at best, and a temporary one at that. Moving the Earth towards the Sun (see later) is likely to be a far more viable method.

    Source: This method suggested by Sean Timpa.

  5. Overspun

    You will need: some means of accelerating the Earth’s rotation.

    Accelerating the Earth’s rotation is a rather different matter from moving it. External interactions with asteroids might move the Earth but won’t have a significant effect on how fast it spins. And certainly it won’t spin the Earth fast enough. You need to build rockets or railguns at the Equator, all facing West. Or perhaps something more exotic…

    Method: The theory is, if you spin the Earth fast enough, it’ll fly apart as the bits at the Equator start moving fast enough to overcome gravity. In theory, one revolution every 84 minutes should do it – even slower would be fine, in fact, as the Earth would become flatter and thus more prone to breaking apart as you spun it faster.

    Feasibility rating: 4/10. This could be done – there is a definite upper limit on how fast something like the Earth can spin before it breaks apart. However, spinning a planet is even more difficult than moving it. It’s not as simple as attaching rockets pointing in each direction to each side…

    Source: This method suggested by Matthew Wakeling.

  6. Blown up

    You will need: 25,000,000,000,000 tonnes of antimatter.

    Method: This method involves detonating a bomb so big that it blasts the Earth to pieces.

    This, to say the least, requires a big bomb. All the explosives mankind has ever created, nuclear or non-, gathered together and detonated simultaneously, would make a significant crater and wreck the planet’s ecosystem, but barely scratch the surface of the planet. There is evidence that in the past, asteroids have hit the Earth with the explosive yield of five billion Hiroshima bombs – and such evidence is difficult to find. It is, in short, insanely difficult to significantly alter the Earth’s structure with explosives. This is not to mention the gravity problem. Just because you blasted the Earth apart doesn’t mean you blasted it apart for good. If you don’t blast it hard enough, the pieces will fall back together again under mutual gravitational attraction, and Earth, like the liquid metal Terminator, will reform from its shattered shards. You have to blow the Earth up hard enough to overcome that attraction.

    How hard is that?

    If you do the lengthy calculations you find that to liberate that much energy is equivalent to the complete annihilation of around 1,246,400,000,000 tonnes of antimatter. That’s assuming zero energy loss to heat, neutrinos and radiation, which is unlikely to be the case in reality: You’ll probably need to up the dose by at least a factor of twenty. Once you’ve generated your antimatter, probably in space, just launch it en masse towards Earth. The resulting release of energy (obeying Einstein’s famous mass-energy equation, E=mc2) should be sufficient to split the Earth into a thousand pieces.

    Greg Bear’s novel, “The Forge Of God”, contains an interesting refinement of this technique. Here, the antagonist instead generates antimatter in the form of a “slug” of anti-neutronium – superdense material massing a billion kilograms per cubic centimetre. This is fired into the Earth’s core. Neutronium passes through ordinary matter as easily as a ball flies through the air, so the anti-neutronium slug doesn’t annihilate immediately; rather, it builds up a protective sheath of plasma around it as it plunges downwards towards the Earth’s core. It’s then followed up by a slug of regular neutronium, which also falls into the core, at a time calculated to meet the first slug head-on at the exact centre of the Earth, where they annihilate themselves, and soon afterwards, the Earth itself. Highly space-efficient, and with the added bonus of all the energy being released at the Earth’s core, where it can do the most damage. In the book, the antagonists simultaneously detonate nuclear warheads in certain oceanic trenches, to weaken the crust and allow the planet to be blown apart more easily.

    Rearranging Earth into two planets – which, provisionally, is sufficient according to my current criteria – would take slightly less energy, but considerably more finesse.

    Earth’s final resting place: A second asteroid belt around the Sun.

    Comments: trembling writes, “I still think that antimatter is crazy s**t, i.e. wouldn’t want it on my flapjacks”. Charles MacGee presents a very well-realised alternate source of explosives in his blog; this method involves generating the explosive energy by fusing together the lighter elements of Earth’s mantle (magnesium and oxygen). Of course, this would involve the invention of an efficient magnesium fusion bomb. And then turning all of the Earth’s mantle into bombs. How implausible! Well. Implausibility is a relative thing.

    Getting easier.

    Feasibility rating: 4/10. Just about slightly possible.

  7. Sucked into a giant black hole

    You will need: a black hole, extremely powerful rocket engines, and, optionally, a large rocky planetary body. The nearest black hole to our planet is 1600 light years from Earth in the direction of Sagittarius, orbiting V4641.

    Method: after locating your black hole, you need get it and the Earth together. This is likely to be the most time-consuming part of this plan. There are two methods, moving Earth or moving the black hole, though for best results you’d most likely move both at once. See the Guide to moving Earth for details on how to move the Earth. Several of the methods listed can be applied to the black hole too, though obviously not all of them, since it is impossible to physically touch the black hole, let alone build rockets on it.

    Earth’s final resting place: part of the mass of the black hole.

    Feasibility rating: 6/10. Very difficult, but definitely possible.

    Sources: The Hitch Hiker’s Guide To The Galaxy, by Douglas Adams; space.com.

    Comments: It’s clear that dropping the Earth into a singularity is massive overkill. A reasonably strong gravitational field, such as might be associated with any body between Jupiter and a neutron star, would be sufficient to rip the Earth apart via tidal forces. These possibilities are dealt with further down.

  8. Meticulously and systematically deconstructed

    You will need: a mass driver. A mass driver is a sort of oversized electromagnetic railgun, which was once proposed as a way of getting mined materials back from the Moon to Earth – basically, you just load it into the driver and fire it upwards in roughly the right direction. Your design should be powerful enough to hit escape velocity of 11 kilometres per second.

    At a million tonnes of mass driven out of the Earth’s gravity well per second, this would take 189,000,000 years. One mass driver would suffice, but ideally, lots (i.e. trillions) would be employed simultaneously. Alternatively you could use space elevators or conventional rockets.

    Method: Basically, what we’re going to do here is dig up the Earth, a big chunk at a time, and boost the whole lot of it into orbit. Yes. All six sextillion tonnes of it.

    We will ignore atmospheric considerations. Compared with the extra energy needed to overcome air friction, it would be a relatively trivial step to completely burn away the Earth’s atmosphere before beginning the process. Even with this done, however, this method would require a – let me emphasize this – titanic quantity of energy to carry out. Building a Dyson sphere ain’t gonna cut it here. (Note: Actually, it would. But if you have the technology to build a Dyson sphere, why are you reading this?)

    Earth’s final resting place: Many tiny pieces, some dropped into the Sun, the remainder scattered across the rest of the Solar System.

    Feasibility rating: 6/10. If we wanted to and were willing to devote resources to it, we could start this process RIGHT NOW. Indeed, what with all the gunk left in orbit, on the Moon and heading out into space, we already have done.

    Source: this method arose when Joe Baldwin and I knocked our heads together by accident.

    Comment: Could this also be achieved with a titanic, solar-powered electromagnet?

  9. Pulverized by impact with blunt instrument

    You will need: a big heavy rock, something with a bit of a swing to it… perhaps Mars.

    Method: Essentially, anything can be destroyed if you hit it hard enough. ANYTHING. The concept is simple: find a really, really big asteroid or planet, accelerate it up to some dazzling speed, and smash it into Earth, preferably head-on but whatever you can manage. The result: an absolutely spectacular collision, resulting hopefully in Earth (and, most likely, our “cue ball” too) being pulverized out of existence – smashed into any number of large pieces which if the collision is hard enough should have enough energy to overcome their mutual gravity and drift away forever, never to coagulate back into a planet again.

    A brief analysis of the size of the object required can be found here. Falling at the minimal impact velocity of 11 kilometres per second and assuming zero energy loss to heat and other energy forms, the cue ball would have to have roughly 60% of the mass of the Earth. Mars, the next planet out, “weighs” in at about 11% of Earth’s mass, while Venus, the next planet in and also the nearest to Earth, has about 81%. Assuming that we would fire our cue ball into Earth at much greater than 11km/s (I’m thinking more like 50km/s), either of these would make great possibilities.

    Obviously a smaller rock would do the job, you just need to fire it faster. Taking mass dilation into account, a 5,000,000,000,000-tonne asteroid at 90% of light speed would do just as well. See the Guide to moving Earth for useful information on manoeuvring big hunks of rock across interplanetary distances. For smaller chunks, there are more options – a Bussard Ramjet (scoop up interstellar hydrogen at the front and fire it out the back as propellant) is one of the most technically feasible as of right now. Of course, a run-up would be needed…

    Earth’s final resting place: a variety of roughly Moon-sized chunks of rock, scattered haphazardly across the greater Solar System.

    Feasibility rating: 7/10. Pretty plausible.

    Source: This method suggested by Andy Kirkpatrick

    Comments: Earth is believed to have been hit by an object the size of Mars at some point in the distant past before its surface cooled. This titanic collision resulted in… the Moon. You can download a simulated video of the impact from this page. While the Mars-sized object in question obviously didn’t hit Earth nearly as hard as we’re proposing with this method, this does serve as a proof of concept.

    Many useful planetary facts can be found here.

  10. Hurled into the Sun

    You will need: Earthmoving equipment.

    Method: Hurl the Earth into the Sun, where it will be rapidly melted and then vaporized by the Sun’s heat.

    Sending Earth on a collision course with the Sun is not as easy as one might think. Contrary to popular opinion, Earth’s orbit is not “unstable” and Earth will not begin to spiral into the Sun if we give it the slightest of nudges (otherwise, you can bet it would have happened already). It’s surprisingly easy to end up with Earth in a loopy elliptical orbit which merely roasts it for four months in every eight. Careful planning will be needed to avoid this.

    Earth’s final resting place: a small globule of vaporized iron sinking slowly into the heart of the Sun.

    Comments: As far as energy changes are concerned, this method is inferior to the next one.

    This method is essentially a variation on the Solar Oven method listed above, wherein you bring the Sun to the Earth (in a manner of speaking).

    Feasibility rating: 9/10. Impossible at our current technological level, but will be possible one day, I’m certain. In the meantime, may happen by freak accident if something comes out of nowhere and randomly knocks Earth in precisely the right direction.

    Source: Infinity Welcomes Careful Drivers, by Grant Naylor


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