What-if 0008: "Everybody Jump"

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What-if 0008: "Everybody Jump"

Postby Sizik » Tue Aug 21, 2012 2:27 am UTC

http://what-if.xkcd.com/8/

I wonder how long it would take for people to get back to the opposite side of the world afterwards.
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Re: What-if 0008: Everybody Jump

Postby Coyne » Tue Aug 21, 2012 2:33 am UTC

Talk about ch'yer illegal immigrant problem ...
In all fairness...

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Re: What-if 0008: Everybody Jump

Postby supramal » Tue Aug 21, 2012 2:55 am UTC

Well that is a novel start to a post-apocalyptic story.

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Re: What-if 0008: Everybody Jump

Postby ragraham » Tue Aug 21, 2012 3:31 am UTC

does anyone know what the punjabi-like text says?

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Re: What-if 0008: Everybody Jump

Postby bmonk » Tue Aug 21, 2012 3:47 am UTC

I'm wondering how they used the airport if it is crowded with people standing next to each other? But I agree: the aftermath of these "thought experiments" is usually far more messy than the actual event being considered.
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Re: What-if 0008: Everybody Jump

Postby glodime » Tue Aug 21, 2012 4:34 am UTC

I would just like to point out that Rhode Island is actually the Island that is now commonly called Aquidneck Island, the largest of several islands in Narragansett Bay. The State's official name, "State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations", refers to the merger of Rhode Island colony (Aquidneck Island) and Providence Plantations colony (the remainder of the state).

Pedanticity (my gift for future pedants) satisfied. Carry on.

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Re: What-if 0008: Everybody Jump

Postby Pfhorrest » Tue Aug 21, 2012 4:45 am UTC

I gotta wonder at the figures that went into this. I mean, figure how far an average person can walk in a day across the average terrain on the inland borders of Rhode Island, and how many people there are on an inland border (as opposed to a coast or somewhere in the middle of the crowd), and how closely people can walk in file, and how dense the settlements in the area surrounding Rhode Island are. People will start walking out en masse, and stop at the nearest abandoned house to sleep and use the toilet and eat what they need, some of them will stay there and live there and start working there (either because they lived there before or hey, free house and new life), other will move on making room for the wave of people immediately behind them (now passing through a reinhabited and semi-functional area instead of deserted cities), and so on, bringing the surrounding areas back online (if only on a transient basis operated by whoever-is-passing-through-today) at roughly the speed that a human can walk per day (including stops to eat, sleep, shit, etc). Without knowing exact figures, how are we to say how far into the crowd (from the inland borders of Rhode Island) you'd have to go before you ran into someone who wouldn't have room to walk out until it was too late for him to walk anywhere useful?

Granted, you would have effectively total lawlessness and the biggest crowd of people ever, so you're likely to get a huge riot as humans revert to mere animals and kill each other in a panic. But taking an extremely optimistic look at human nature for a moment, how long would it take to conduct an orderly evacuation on foot of 7ish billion people out of Rhode Island to at least the rest of North America? You'll still have a hugely overpopulated North America, but we have lots of unused room for temporary guests while we get all the airports and harbors operational again and shipping people back to their own continents.

Take a physicist's look at it: assume a gas of spherical humans of a uniform density moving across the medium of North American terrain at whatever speed people can on average walk that terrain. How long does it take that gas to fill the volume of the continent? THEN do the math of how many people can the combined US air and sea infrastructure transport per day and how long it will take to pump that gas of humans through those conduits back to the other continents?
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Re: What-if 0008: Everybody Jump

Postby bjowen » Tue Aug 21, 2012 5:13 am UTC

On average, we humna can vertically jump maybe half a meter on a good day.


Humna - plural of humnum? Should I be offended?

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Re: What-if 0008: Everybody Jump

Postby supramal » Tue Aug 21, 2012 5:28 am UTC

Quick estimation:

It'd take 20 days to fill the area of the United States (continental), walking at 50 mi. per day.

Assuming a circular United States and in all direction. I guess it wouldn't be too bad, but the more important question might be...would there be enough food/water?

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Re: What-if 0008: Everybody Jump

Postby Biliboy » Tue Aug 21, 2012 5:55 am UTC

Hope that you are on the outer edge, within a couple hundred feed of it, and are in good enough shape to pretty much walk halfway across the continent before you stop getting crowded from behind... ever see traffic starting from a stoplight? Those in the middle of the crowd will die of thirst before even getting room to move.

Also, I imagine it'd be a good idea to have a functioning knowledge of chinese or hindi.

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Re: What-if 0008: Everybody Jump

Postby kventin » Tue Aug 21, 2012 6:42 am UTC

so basically the end of the world as we know it. that's what i suspected.

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Re: What-if 0008: Everybody Jump

Postby PM 2Ring » Tue Aug 21, 2012 6:56 am UTC

ragraham wrote:does anyone know what the punjabi-like text says?

Probably. :)

It's Devanāgarī script; I'm guessing the text is in Hindi.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Devanagari wrote:Devanāgarī is the main script used to write Standard Hindi, Marathi, and Nepali. Since the 19th century, it has been the most commonly used script for Sanskrit. Devanāgarī is also employed for Bhojpuri, Gujari, Pahari, (Garhwali and Kumaoni), Konkani, Magahi, Maithili, Marwari, Bhili, Newari, Santhali, Tharu, and sometimes Sindhi, Dogri, Sherpa and by Kashmiri-speaking Hindus. It was formerly used to write Gujarati.

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Re: What-if 0008: Everybody Jump

Postby ryzvonusef (1151717) » Tue Aug 21, 2012 7:30 am UTC

ragraham wrote:does anyone know what the punjabi-like text says?


That's not punjabi, punjabi uses Gurmukhi or Shahmukhi scripts.

I don't read Hindi, but since my mother tongue is Urdu, which is mostly the same *spoken* language, therefore I tried my hand at it.

Using the wikipedia page on Devanagri, and transcribing it to English, and reading *that*, what I deciphered was:

"Havai Ada Kahan Hai?"

(not a 100% direct transcription, since I just needed to translate the first couple of letters to get the gist of it)

Or in english:

"Where is the airport?"

And now you know :wink:

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Re: What-if 0008: Everybody Jump

Postby AvatarIII » Tue Aug 21, 2012 7:58 am UTC

There are a lot of uncomfortable glances. Someone coughs.


I loved this bit, I'm not sure why.

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Re: What-if 0008: Everybody Jump

Postby The Moomin » Tue Aug 21, 2012 8:00 am UTC

I really liked this "what-if" scenario. It's a completely different viewpoint I'd never considered of a fairly common question. Bravo Randall.
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Re: What-if 0008: Everybody Jump

Postby ryzvonusef (1151717) » Tue Aug 21, 2012 8:16 am UTC


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Re: What-if 0008: Everybody Jump

Postby eidako » Tue Aug 21, 2012 9:54 am UTC

What, no stampeding and crowd crush? I can see waves of people being pushed into the ocean, suffocated against buildings and trampled into a spongy carpet of meat long before anyone had a chance to die from dehydration. It seems like there would be problems with oxygen depletion and body heat too, not to mention infectious diseases.
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Re: What-if 0008: Everybody Jump

Postby AvatarIII » Tue Aug 21, 2012 10:17 am UTC

eidako wrote:What, no stampeding and crowd crush? I can see waves of people being pushed into the ocean, suffocated against buildings and trampled into a spongy carpet of meat long before anyone had a chance to die from dehydration. It seems like there would be problems with oxygen depletion and body heat too, not to mention infectious diseases.


I don't think oxygen depletion and body heat would be much more of a problem than at an big outdoor concert for example, I don't see how a concert of over 4 million people in Rio would be worse for heat or oxygen depletion than 7 billion people in a cooler climate.
Yeah I can see people being crushed or sufficated but if a crowd rush at a concert of 1.4 million people (see same link as before) caused only 21 deaths, (which is only 0.0015% of the total) I don't see why a crowd of 7 billion would see much more than 100,000 deaths by the same cause.

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Re: What-if 0008: Everybody Jump

Postby peewee_RotA » Tue Aug 21, 2012 10:34 am UTC

First of all: YES!!!! this one was awesome.


Back to basics. If it takes an area the size of Rhode Island, then people couldn't be entirely in Rhode Island because of all of the buildings, forests, animals, etc. that are already taking up space.


So do people just spill into more states? Do all upright structures, including trees, get demolished? Do people just stand on the buildings or get into several floors of buildings to save space?

I think that any of these conditions would have a most interesting effect on the mass exodus.



P.S. I think he only "humna"'s when he doesn't know the words.
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Re: What-if 0008: Everybody Jump

Postby Thorbard9 » Tue Aug 21, 2012 11:32 am UTC

A fascinating scenario, as has been said elsewhere, the setup for the hypothetical situation is actually more interesting than the hypothetical situation itself.

Another thought; what if it wasn't Rhode Island but a state without coastline? Would that make it easier or harder for people to escape?

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Re: What-if 0008: Everybody Jump

Postby pkcommando » Tue Aug 21, 2012 12:00 pm UTC

2 thoughts on this:

1) It would be a supreme dickwad (a brand new level of Super-dickery) who magically transports ~7 billion people to RI for the jump and then doesn't send them back after it's over.

2) I would really like to meet this being and shake his/her/its hand/claw/tentacle/appendage-beyond-human-comprehension.

And, a third thought -
There are a lot of uncomfortable glances. Someone coughs.

yeah, that's an awesome bit.
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Re: What-if 0008: Everybody Jump

Postby Eutychus » Tue Aug 21, 2012 1:38 pm UTC

pkcommando wrote:It would be a supreme dickwad (a brand new level of Super-dickery) who magically transports ~7 billion people to RI for the jump and then doesn't send them back after it's over.
Yes, I'm surprised nobody's started thinking about the logistics of getting everyone there in the first place (and keeping the first arrivals there until the stragglers show up).
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Re: What-if 0008: Everybody Jump

Postby Yoduh » Tue Aug 21, 2012 1:58 pm UTC

Eutychus wrote:
pkcommando wrote:It would be a supreme dickwad (a brand new level of Super-dickery) who magically transports ~7 billion people to RI for the jump and then doesn't send them back after it's over.
Yes, I'm surprised nobody's started thinking about the logistics of getting everyone there in the first place (and keeping the first arrivals there until the stragglers show up).


It was a given in the what-if that everyone was transported there magically. It's up to the humans to figure out how to disperse. I would think that being surrounded in the middle of rhode island by 7 billion other people that it must be like being stuck in the ultimate traffic jam, and unless you were teleported somewhere near the edge of the mass of people you would probably die of starvation standing in the same spot for days before you got a chance to move. This is under the assumption that a mass riot wouldn't instantly break out, which given the premise that everyone was coordinated enough to jump together on command there must be some kind of peaceful understanding of what everyone is there for.

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Re: What-if 0008: Everybody Jump

Postby another josh » Tue Aug 21, 2012 2:35 pm UTC

I suppose the next question is if there is a roughly Rhode Island sized place on the planet that would better accommodate this large number of people? Is there an ideal spot that has sufficient fresh water, established infrastructure, and other necessities, to better deal with a crowd this size? I'm guessing there isn't a place that would be able to handle everyone, but there are several that would be better than Rhode Island as it is today.

And if this was a planned event (On X day in the future, everyone will be magically transported to this area to make a leap for one very special episode of Mythbusters), how much lead time and money would be needed to plan out and setup some logistics to avoid the problems in this What If?

Maybe this one needs to be combined with the "Could we get everyone off the planet" question. Now we've got everyone in one spot, now we just need to launch Rhode Island into space.

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Re: What-if 0008: Everybody Jump

Postby rmsgrey » Tue Aug 21, 2012 2:38 pm UTC

another josh wrote:Maybe this one needs to be combined with the "Could we get everyone off the planet" question. Now we've got everyone in one spot, now we just need to launch Rhode Island into space.


Orion!

Though maybe we'd need bigger bombs?

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Re: What-if 0008: Everybody Jump

Postby AvatarIII » Tue Aug 21, 2012 2:44 pm UTC

rmsgrey wrote:
another josh wrote:Maybe this one needs to be combined with the "Could we get everyone off the planet" question. Now we've got everyone in one spot, now we just need to launch Rhode Island into space.


Orion!

Though maybe we'd need bigger bombs?


nah you need a spindizzy for that

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Re: What-if 0008: Everybody Jump

Postby RWLott » Tue Aug 21, 2012 4:58 pm UTC

I appreciate the physics behind the "jump" portion of this thought experient, but I have a problem accepting the explanation of the aftereffects. If everyone on the globe is to be “magically transported to Rhode Island” then why can't we assume that they/we will also be “magically transported” back to their/our point of origination. This would eliminate much of the chaos Randall goes on to theorize and describe. Likewise, couldn't also we also assume that such a few moments of mass assembly (a minute or two?) will create no mass hysteria or any basic needs problems and that all of these not very minor concerns would be “magically” resolved.

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Re: What-if 0008: Everybody Jump

Postby Jackpot777 » Tue Aug 21, 2012 6:06 pm UTC

My biggest fear would be the nuclear power plants. With nobody to take control of the failing cooling systems, a lot of reactors are going to go critical very quickly. Meltdowns all across the world... and the vast majority of the world's nuclear power facilities are in the Northern Hemisphere.

Where all the people are.

Basically: you want to survive this thing and not live in a post-apocalyptic radiation hellhole? Hope you're on the edge of the crowd, befriend a few airline pilots, and get your ass down to Rio ASAP. The flight navigation system should get you to the airport safely, and it's not as though you'll have to worry about a lot of other air traffic. If you want to be totally safe, get to the antipode of where Hell On Earth: Homo Sapiens Edition is happening - Western Australia, baby. Decent weather, lots of opportunity to eat, and fewer fallout problems.

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Re: What-if 0008: Everybody Jump

Postby PolakoVoador » Tue Aug 21, 2012 6:17 pm UTC

Jackpot777 wrote:My biggest fear would be the nuclear power plants. With nobody to take control of the failing cooling systems, a lot of reactors are going to go critical very quickly. Meltdowns all across the world... and the vast majority of the world's nuclear power facilities are in the Northern Hemisphere.

Where all the people are.

Basically: you want to survive this thing and not live in a post-apocalyptic radiation hellhole? Hope you're on the edge of the crowd, befriend a few airline pilots, and get your ass down to Rio ASAP. The flight navigation system should get you to the airport safely, and it's not as though you'll have to worry about a lot of other air traffic. If you want to be totally safe, get to the antipode of where Hell On Earth: Homo Sapiens Edition is happening - Western Australia, baby. Decent weather, lots of opportunity to eat, and fewer fallout problems.


But then there's all that australian fauna trying to kill you. And australian fauna is evil.

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Re: What-if 0008: Everybody Jump

Postby JudeMorrigan » Tue Aug 21, 2012 6:20 pm UTC

Jackpot777 wrote:My biggest fear would be the nuclear power plants. With nobody to take control of the failing cooling systems, a lot of reactors are going to go critical very quickly. Meltdowns all across the world... and the vast majority of the world's nuclear power facilities are in the Northern Hemisphere.

I'm pretty sure they would shut themselves down rather than melting down.

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Re: What-if 0008: Everybody Jump

Postby keithl » Tue Aug 21, 2012 6:24 pm UTC

The daabab refugee camp in Sudan, the worlds largest, has 440K people in 50km^2, with water and food provided by the UN. The post-jump Rhode Island "camp" will have 16,000 times as many people on only 60 times the land, with no external supplies.

The yearly average solar insolation in Rhode Island is about 3.6kWh/m^2-day or 150W/m^2 . Two people per square meter is about 200W/m^2. So it will get hot, quickly. I would expect the heat island of sweaty people will cause a rising column of moist air, probably a supercell thunderstorm.

This is actually good. Those people are adding 200ppm/day CO2 to the air column above them ( two kilograms CO2 per day added to 10,000 kilograms of air per square meter). Without storm-driven winds and mixing, the CO2 will diffuse upwards slowly, perhaps concentrated in the bottom 100 meters or so, and ground level CO2 will climb towards lethal in a few days.

If people are transported randomly, a large percentage of them will be children separated from parents. So there will be billions of frightened, screaming children and frantic parents. Babies and small children are messy, and will probably be vomiting and pooping in fear. The smell will cause others to vomit. Which, as you know if you've ever been in a small confined space with a few people vomiting, causes you to vomit, too, in a massive chain reaction. Very soon, everyone is dizzy, nauseated, voided of digesting food, and covered in stinky puke.

Much of the world has endemic disease - millions of people around the world are suffering from dysentery, cholera and other fecal-spread diseases as I write this. So we have a vast crowd of hot, thirsty, smelly, nauseated, frantic people mixed with active infectious disease carriers. The epidemics will spread like wildfire. Hopefully the corpses will be sequestered and piled, instead of left underfoot. As the epidemics spread, the diseased will be sequestered as well; the remaining healthy people will barricade themselves from the ill. This will make Auschwitz look like a picnic in the park.

Meanwhile, think of all the suddenly driverless, pilotless vehicles in the air and on the roads when the "jumping rapture" occurs. Almost all roads will have knots of crashed vehicles blocking them. Planes falling out of the sky, starting fires. Taxiing planes with open throttles will run into terminals and hangars, ditto. Docking ships will smash into docks. Fast trains, only gradually slowing down, will hit un-thrown switches and derail. We've automated much of our world, but many machines need active control by attentive humans to remain safe.

Gas stoves and ovens left on, industrial processes untended. Crops unwatered, livestock unfed. Some farms, towns, airports, roads, etc. will survive - most will burn. Perhaps the gruesome upside is that the surviving infrastructure will be able to support the survivors from the edge of the crowd, while they slowly perish from grief and apathy.

Somehow, I don't feel like using one of the smilies on the right side of this screen.

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Re: What-if 0008: Everybody Jump

Postby Jackpot777 » Tue Aug 21, 2012 7:56 pm UTC

JudeMorrigan wrote:
Jackpot777 wrote:My biggest fear would be the nuclear power plants. With nobody to take control of the failing cooling systems, a lot of reactors are going to go critical very quickly. Meltdowns all across the world... and the vast majority of the world's nuclear power facilities are in the Northern Hemisphere.

I'm pretty sure they would shut themselves down rather than melting down.


I found this, from "Aftermath: Population Zero"...

Day 3 to 7 After Humans

Security measures in power plants fail. The equipment in the spent fuel buildings adjoining nuclear power plants that maintain the temperature level of the spent nuclear fuel rods will shut down because the fossil fuel powered back up power generators will run out. At that time, the cooling pools that prevent the spent nuclear fuel from overheating will start to boil. Radioactive steam will vent into the atmosphere because the water eventually evaporates and the spent fuel would set fire to the building, causing a (non nuclear) explosion, emitting radiation not only in the immediate area of the plant but carried by winds around the globe. This is repeated dozens of times as shutdown nuclear plant spent fuel houses explode.


So the power plants themselves may be safe. But I wouldn't hang around one for too long.

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Re: What-if 0008: Everybody Jump

Postby Jackpot777 » Tue Aug 21, 2012 8:03 pm UTC

PolakoVoador wrote:But then there's all that australian fauna trying to kill you. And australian fauna is evil.


I suggested getting to W.A... the northern part of the state has the lion's share of dangerous critters, but a quokka isn't going to hurt you. And, in a pinch, it will feed a family for a few days. I'd be aiming for Rottnest Island.

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Re: What-if 0008: Everybody Jump

Postby Max™ » Tue Aug 21, 2012 8:13 pm UTC

PolakoVoador wrote:
Jackpot777 wrote:My biggest fear would be the nuclear power plants. With nobody to take control of the failing cooling systems, a lot of reactors are going to go critical very quickly. Meltdowns all across the world... and the vast majority of the world's nuclear power facilities are in the Northern Hemisphere.

Where all the people are.

Basically: you want to survive this thing and not live in a post-apocalyptic radiation hellhole? Hope you're on the edge of the crowd, befriend a few airline pilots, and get your ass down to Rio ASAP. The flight navigation system should get you to the airport safely, and it's not as though you'll have to worry about a lot of other air traffic. If you want to be totally safe, get to the antipode of where Hell On Earth: Homo Sapiens Edition is happening - Western Australia, baby. Decent weather, lots of opportunity to eat, and fewer fallout problems.


But then there's all that australian fauna trying to kill you. And australian fauna is evil.

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Re: What-if 0008: Everybody Jump

Postby keithl » Tue Aug 21, 2012 8:39 pm UTC

Jackpot777 wrote:I found this, from "Aftermath: Population Zero"...

Day 3 to 7 After Humans

Security measures in power plants fail. The equipment in the spent fuel buildings adjoining nuclear power plants that maintain the temperature level of the spent nuclear fuel rods will shut down because the fossil fuel powered back up power generators will run out. At that time, the cooling pools that prevent the spent nuclear fuel from overheating will start to boil. Radioactive steam will vent into the atmosphere because the water eventually evaporates and the spent fuel would set fire to the building, causing a (non nuclear) explosion, emitting radiation not only in the immediate area of the plant but carried by winds around the globe. This is repeated dozens of times as shutdown nuclear plant spent fuel houses explode.


So the power plants themselves may be safe. But I wouldn't hang around one for too long.


By far the worst nuclear accident in history was Chernobyl, when a reactor was more than half vaporized and exploded skyward. On the sensitive human scale, this was nasty. Lots of cancers. But the immediate environment was not lethal, plants and animals thrive there in spite of the radiation they got, because the vastly greater threat, human beings, went away. So if all the spent fuel stores in the world overheat, accumulate hydrogen, blow off roofs and spread volatiles, it will make a small patch around the buildings a bit less fertile but not sterile. On a 500,000,000 km^2 planet, perhaps 1000km^2 will suffer a 20% drop in biological productivity for a season, and a small fraction of that will suffer longer. Do not confuse nuclear evacuation rules, designed to protect populations from detectable harm, with the levels of radioactivity required to kill nature faster than it can reproduce.

The "radioactivity sterilizes trees" notion comes from an experiment in a forest at Brookhaven National Labs, where they purposely irradiated a small plot of forest with a sealed radioactive gamma (?) source. The trees a few meters from the lethally radioactive source did indeed fail to bud. 10s of meters away, budding was reduced but not stopped. Hundreds of meters away, the levels were higher than long term exposure rules permitted, but not lethal, and plants and animals did just fine.

Still, the rest of "Aftermath ..." is pretty interesting, regards what breaks when humans don't attend to it. I hadn't thought about liquified gases, though I expect fires rather than refrigeration failure will be the cause of their release.

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Re: What-if 0008: Everybody Jump

Postby Moose Anus » Tue Aug 21, 2012 9:15 pm UTC

I think instantly transporting everyone to Rhode Island would be a pretty good first step before transporting everyone off the planet by half emptying their water glasses and using Yoda to propel them into orbit of a mole of moles before the robots destroy them and then they throw a baseball really fast at the SAT headquarters.
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Re: What-if 0008: Everybody Jump

Postby scjr » Tue Aug 21, 2012 9:20 pm UTC

There's a slight problem with your research, T.F. Green Airport is not in Providence it's in Warwick.

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Re: What-if 0008: Everybody Jump

Postby drewder » Wed Aug 22, 2012 1:34 am UTC

But what happens if the wizard magically teleports them all 1 meter in the air rather than expecting them all to jump, followed by yoda accelerating them all at the planet at .9c?

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Re: What-if 0008: Everybody Jump

Postby BytEfLUSh » Wed Aug 22, 2012 1:43 am UTC

drewder wrote:But what happens if the wizard magically teleports them all 1 meter in the air rather than expecting them all to jump, followed by yoda accelerating them all at the planet at .9c?


Ouch.

Civilization would not be rebuilt, in that case.


Edit: Ok, let's play this game. I haven't done any calculations, but a mass of 7 billion objects, each weighing approx. 50 kg, at 0.9c... I think that's a doomsday scenario; I don't think Earth would leave enough remains to do an "autopsy". :)

Edit 2: Of course I haven't done any calculations... 1: I don't know how to do it; 2: I think it's obvious what would happen. Maybe.
Do this next Tuesday, Randall! :D
Last edited by BytEfLUSh on Wed Aug 22, 2012 1:54 am UTC, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: What-if 0008: Everybody Jump

Postby PolakoVoador » Wed Aug 22, 2012 1:52 am UTC

drewder wrote:But what happens if the wizard magically teleports them all 1 meter in the air rather than expecting them all to jump, followed by yoda accelerating them all at the planet at .9c?


That would be one hell of a show :mrgreen:


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