What-If 0020: "Diamond"

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What-If 0020: "Diamond"

Postby Klear » Tue Nov 13, 2012 1:00 pm UTC

http://what-if.xkcd.com/20

Cool bit of information that air friction isn't what heats up meteorites. I never realized that. How much would just the friction heat a piece of rock by itself?

Edit: Also, I'm missing the information on how much would such a diamond be worth before hitting us. Maybe a good defence would be to put the world's best cat burglars to the impact site and see if they manage to steal that thing before it kills us all.
Last edited by Klear on Tue Nov 13, 2012 1:25 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: What-If 0020: Diamond

Postby peewee_RotA » Tue Nov 13, 2012 1:08 pm UTC

A baseball traveling at 0.9c fuses with air molecules. A 100 foot wide diamond traveling at 0.99c has no bonds and the particles are moving to fast to fuse with air molecules.

I honestly don't care enough to research this any further. I'm just saying that they seem to be contradictory.
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Re: What-If 0020: Diamond

Postby AvatarIII » Tue Nov 13, 2012 1:24 pm UTC

I'd like to thank this What if for informing me of that oh-my-god particle :D

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Re: What-If 0020: Diamond

Postby WanderingLinguist » Tue Nov 13, 2012 1:33 pm UTC

peewee_RotA wrote:A baseball traveling at 0.9c fuses with air molecules. A 100 foot wide diamond traveling at 0.99c has no bonds and the particles are moving to fast to fuse with air molecules.

I honestly don't care enough to research this any further. I'm just saying that they seem to be contradictory.


He doesn't say it has no bonds; he says the bonds don't matter at that speed.

Also, I'm no expert, but I think there's a big difference between 0.9c and 0.99c.

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Re: What-If 0020: Diamond

Postby Klear » Tue Nov 13, 2012 1:36 pm UTC

WanderingLinguist wrote:Also, I'm no expert, but I think there's a big difference between 0.9c and 0.99c.


Roughly 27 000 km/s. Though I have no idea how much that is in this context.

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Re: What-If 0020: Diamond

Postby moody7277 » Tue Nov 13, 2012 2:00 pm UTC

Klear wrote:
WanderingLinguist wrote:Also, I'm no expert, but I think there's a big difference between 0.9c and 0.99c.


Roughly 27 000 km/s. Though I have no idea how much that is in this context.


Gammas for these speeds are 2.3 and 7.1 respectively, so there's a factor of 3 difference in energy.
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Re: What-If 0020: Diamond

Postby Envelope Generator » Tue Nov 13, 2012 2:33 pm UTC

I hope Aidan is made of sterner stuff than I was at age 8 when I read about cobalt bombs in the Guinness Book of Records. All life on earth dying from an impact, yay!
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Re: What-If 0020: Diamond

Postby Klear » Tue Nov 13, 2012 2:38 pm UTC

Envelope Generator wrote:I hope Aidan is made of sterner stuff than I was at age 8 when I read about cobalt bombs in the Guinness Book of Records. All life on earth dying from an impact, yay!


He asked what would happen if earth got hit by an oversized chunk of the hardest thing he could think of at the highest speed possible. There's no way he didn't expect some spectacular fireworks to come from this.

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Re: What-If 0020: Diamond

Postby Barstro » Tue Nov 13, 2012 2:44 pm UTC

Could something going that fast simply put a hole right through the planet without affecting it's orbit (like a single teflon bullet through our train?)

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Re: What-If 0020: Diamond

Postby cellocgw » Tue Nov 13, 2012 2:51 pm UTC

Barstro wrote:Could something going that fast simply put a hole right through the planet without affecting it's orbit (like a single teflon bullet through our train?)

Well, neutrinos do. The problem is that carbon, and the particles constituting carbon, have far too high a cross-section with ordinary matter (an indicator of the probability of interaction).
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Re: What-If 0020: Diamond

Postby rmsgrey » Tue Nov 13, 2012 2:57 pm UTC

Klear wrote:Edit: Also, I'm missing the information on how much would such a diamond be worth before hitting us. Maybe a good defence would be to put the world's best cat burglars to the impact site and see if they manage to steal that thing before it kills us all.


It depends whether you can find a buyer. Like one-of-a-kind artworks, a 30m diamond would be impossible to price.

After impact, it would be roughly equivalent to a day's worth of output from the world's diamond mines, so wouldn't make even a ripple on the markets.

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Re: What-If 0020: Diamond

Postby mathmannix » Tue Nov 13, 2012 3:02 pm UTC

cellocgw wrote:
Barstro wrote:Could something going that fast simply put a hole right through the planet without affecting it's orbit (like a single teflon bullet through our train?)

Well, neutrinos do.


Ooh, I remember this one! Neutrinos can cause four-leaf clovers to not become lucky, as well as [looking it up] "abnormally low sales of pecan-flavoured ice-cream."
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Re: What-If 0020: Diamond

Postby speising » Tue Nov 13, 2012 3:20 pm UTC

rmsgrey wrote:After impact, it would be roughly equivalent to a day's worth of output from the world's diamond mines, so wouldn't make even a ripple on the markets.


how do you arrive at this number?
i make it 49762.8t, vs. a yearly output of mines of 20t (wikipedia)

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Re: What-If 0020: Diamond

Postby rmsgrey » Tue Nov 13, 2012 3:23 pm UTC

speising wrote:
rmsgrey wrote:After impact, it would be roughly equivalent to a day's worth of output from the world's diamond mines, so wouldn't make even a ripple on the markets.


how do you arrive at this number?
i make it 49762.8t, vs. a yearly output of mines of 20t (wikipedia)


...by doing back-of-the-envelope calculations in my head and missing a unit conversion - make it a million days' worth and quite a significant impact on the market

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Re: What-If 0020: Diamond

Postby Klear » Tue Nov 13, 2012 3:46 pm UTC

rmsgrey wrote:
Klear wrote:Edit: Also, I'm missing the information on how much would such a diamond be worth before hitting us. Maybe a good defence would be to put the world's best cat burglars to the impact site and see if they manage to steal that thing before it kills us all.


It depends whether you can find a buyer. Like one-of-a-kind artworks, a 30m diamond would be impossible to price.


The price isn't a problem - just sell it for whatever anybody is willing to pay. Hey, you stole it. It doesn't hurt you if you sell it underpriced.

The problem with stealing and selling one-of-a-kind artworks is that everybody knows they have been stolen, making the sale extremely risky. Or rather, such paintings are only ever stolen if the thief in question already has a buyer.

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Re: What-If 0020: Diamond

Postby rmsgrey » Tue Nov 13, 2012 3:53 pm UTC

Klear wrote:
rmsgrey wrote:
Klear wrote:Edit: Also, I'm missing the information on how much would such a diamond be worth before hitting us. Maybe a good defence would be to put the world's best cat burglars to the impact site and see if they manage to steal that thing before it kills us all.


It depends whether you can find a buyer. Like one-of-a-kind artworks, a 30m diamond would be impossible to price.


The price isn't a problem - just sell it for whatever anybody is willing to pay. Hey, you stole it. It doesn't hurt you if you sell it underpriced.

The problem with stealing and selling one-of-a-kind artworks is that everybody knows they have been stolen, making the sale extremely risky. Or rather, such paintings are only ever stolen if the thief in question already has a buyer.


But sometimes they're sold without having to be stolen first...

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Re: What-If 0020: Diamond

Postby Klear » Tue Nov 13, 2012 3:58 pm UTC

rmsgrey wrote:
Klear wrote:
rmsgrey wrote:
Klear wrote:Edit: Also, I'm missing the information on how much would such a diamond be worth before hitting us. Maybe a good defence would be to put the world's best cat burglars to the impact site and see if they manage to steal that thing before it kills us all.


It depends whether you can find a buyer. Like one-of-a-kind artworks, a 30m diamond would be impossible to price.


The price isn't a problem - just sell it for whatever anybody is willing to pay. Hey, you stole it. It doesn't hurt you if you sell it underpriced.

The problem with stealing and selling one-of-a-kind artworks is that everybody knows they have been stolen, making the sale extremely risky. Or rather, such paintings are only ever stolen if the thief in question already has a buyer.


But sometimes they're sold without having to be stolen first...


And how is that supposed to save us from a relativistic meteor? We need burglars, not scam artists.

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Re: What-If 0020: Diamond

Postby Odd_nonposter » Tue Nov 13, 2012 4:07 pm UTC

The diamond sweeps out a column of atmosphere without seeming to notice and disappears into the crust. A cloud of expanding plasma and radiation grows around the entry point as the energy ripples outward through the body of the planet. Forty milliseconds later the entire far side expands outward in an incandescent cloud.


So that's how they destroyed Alderaan!
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Re: What-If 0020: Diamond

Postby WIMP » Tue Nov 13, 2012 4:29 pm UTC

peewee_RotA wrote:A baseball traveling at 0.9c fuses with air molecules. A 100 foot wide diamond traveling at 0.99c has no bonds and the particles are moving to fast to fuse with air molecules.

I honestly don't care enough to research this any further. I'm just saying that they seem to be contradictory.


I think he learned from last time. Notice he's using a particle physics simulation engine now. The baseball collision and this one at .99c are comparable to SLAC collisions in terms of energy per nucleon. In both cases, there won't be fusion--we're well into the regime where it's quarks and gluons colliding, not nucleons. As long as you're above 1 GeV/nucleon, you're in perturbative QCD, which is to say you're in the region where fusion ain't relevant.

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Re: What-If 0020: Diamond

Postby Vroomfundel » Tue Nov 13, 2012 5:21 pm UTC

WIMP wrote:
peewee_RotA wrote:A baseball traveling at 0.9c fuses with air molecules. A 100 foot wide diamond traveling at 0.99c has no bonds and the particles are moving to fast to fuse with air molecules.

I honestly don't care enough to research this any further. I'm just saying that they seem to be contradictory.


I think he learned from last time. Notice he's using a particle physics simulation engine now. The baseball collision and this one at .99c are comparable to SLAC collisions in terms of energy per nucleon. In both cases, there won't be fusion--we're well into the regime where it's quarks and gluons colliding, not nucleons. As long as you're above 1 GeV/nucleon, you're in perturbative QCD, which is to say you're in the region where fusion ain't relevant.


I accept this claim without any fact checking, as long as it comes from someone called WIMP. You interacted strongly this time ;-)
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Re: What-If 0020: Diamond

Postby mcdigman » Tue Nov 13, 2012 5:53 pm UTC

0.9999999999999999999999951c?
Image

What if the diamond was propelled by a device that converted the entire rest mass of the sun into kinetic energy; it would be moving at 0.99999999999999999999999999999999999999999999974c. Who could resist a gamma of 4.4*10^22? What would happen?

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Re: What-If 0020: Diamond

Postby Jay Low » Tue Nov 13, 2012 6:07 pm UTC

At this speed, every carbon molecule carries 25 TeV of energy, c.omparable to particles in the beam of the Large Hadron Collider.


This isn't quite right. The maximal energy of the LHC is 14 TeV for both beams, so 7 TeV per beam. And not per particle! Those have less.

A little faster, and we might spot Higgs Bosons in the impact debris.


The Higgs Boson (or some new Boson :wink: ) can be spotted at even less energy (4 TeV per beam), which was shown on July 4th.

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Re: What-If 0020: Diamond

Postby SlyReaper » Tue Nov 13, 2012 6:10 pm UTC

So the high speed one would look pretty much like this?

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Re: What-If 0020: Diamond

Postby Fire Brns » Tue Nov 13, 2012 6:21 pm UTC

The mention of the cat reminded me of the alt text of this comic: http://xkcd.com/722/
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Re: What-If 0020: Diamond

Postby mathmannix » Tue Nov 13, 2012 7:07 pm UTC

Fire Brns wrote:The mention of the cat reminded me of the alt text of this comic: http://xkcd.com/722/


Turtles Cats have it figured out, man. (At least Randall's cat does... it's all about adding more digits full of power, because it loves that about physics too.)

Edit: Hey, is that a real photograph or just entirely photoshopped?
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Re: What-If 0020: Diamond

Postby SlyReaper » Tue Nov 13, 2012 7:19 pm UTC

I think it's the Earthrise photo, somewhat embellished.
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Re: What-If 0020: Diamond

Postby mathmannix » Tue Nov 13, 2012 7:29 pm UTC

Oh, I found the photo when I googled "what is the astronaut carrying"... Carry on. I thought it was a PC or coffee maker or something.
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Re: What-If 0020: Diamond

Postby dudiobugtron » Tue Nov 13, 2012 8:37 pm UTC

mathmannix wrote:Edit: Hey, is that a real photograph or just entirely photoshopped?


It's definitely real. Don't you remember the day when the Earth was exploded by a massive high-energy meteor impact and we all died? Ah the good old days.

They must have had a pretty good photographer to catch the exact moment of impact on camera though.
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Re: What-If 0020: Diamond

Postby moody7277 » Tue Nov 13, 2012 8:47 pm UTC

dudiobugtron wrote:
mathmannix wrote:Edit: Hey, is that a real photograph or just entirely photoshopped?


It's definitely real. Don't you remember the day when the Earth was exploded by a massive high-energy meteor impact and we all died? Ah the good old days.

They must have had a pretty good photographer to catch the exact moment of impact on camera though.


Someone tell the "Destroy the Earth" guy he's gotta advance his counter.
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Re: What-If 0020: Diamond

Postby Klear » Tue Nov 13, 2012 8:49 pm UTC

dudiobugtron wrote:
mathmannix wrote:Edit: Hey, is that a real photograph or just entirely photoshopped?


It's definitely real. Don't you remember the day when the Earth was exploded by a massive high-energy meteor impact and we all died? Ah the good old days.

They must have had a pretty good photographer to catch the exact moment of impact on camera though.


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Re: What-If 0020: Diamond

Postby gmalivuk » Wed Nov 14, 2012 12:24 am UTC

mcdigman wrote:What if the diamond was propelled by a device that converted the entire rest mass of the sun into kinetic energy; it would be moving at 0.99999999999999999999999999999999999999999999974c. Who could resist a gamma of 4.4*10^22?
At that point, you should really just stick to gamma values and skip the whole intermediate conversion to some ridiculous speed step. The Sun's mass is about 2e30 kg and the diamond ball is about 5e7 kg, for a ratio of 4e22. (Gamma just gives the amount of rest-masses worth of kinetic energy the thing has, so if you're converting another mass into energy first, just divide the masses to get gamma.)
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Re: What-If 0020: Diamond

Postby WIMP » Wed Nov 14, 2012 1:07 am UTC

Jay Low wrote:
At this speed, every carbon molecule carries 25 TeV of energy, c.omparable to particles in the beam of the Large Hadron Collider.


This isn't quite right. The maximal energy of the LHC is 14 TeV for both beams, so 7 TeV per beam. And not per particle! Those have less.

A little faster, and we might spot Higgs Bosons in the impact debris.


The Higgs Boson (or some new Boson :wink: ) can be spotted at even less energy (4 TeV per beam), which was shown on July 4th.


The LHC has head on collisions, which are more efficient at converting kinetic energy into rest mass. These collisions would be fixed target, so wouldn't be powerful enough.

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Re: What-If 0020: Diamond

Postby gmalivuk » Wed Nov 14, 2012 1:29 am UTC

In a reference frame moving half the velocity of the diamond sphere, these collisions are head-on as well.
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Re: What-If 0020: Diamond

Postby Extragorey » Wed Nov 14, 2012 1:50 am UTC

A 100-foot diamond traveling close to the speed of light? Sounds like the asteroid from The Dig! Except that one magically slows down before hitting the planet... :?
And it wasn't entirely clear if the dodecahedron was made of diamond, but I'm pretty sure it was.
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Re: What-If 0020: Diamond

Postby mcdigman » Wed Nov 14, 2012 3:44 am UTC

gmalivuk wrote:
mcdigman wrote:What if the diamond was propelled by a device that converted the entire rest mass of the sun into kinetic energy; it would be moving at 0.99999999999999999999999999999999999999999999974c. Who could resist a gamma of 4.4*10^22?
At that point, you should really just stick to gamma values and skip the whole intermediate conversion to some ridiculous speed step. The Sun's mass is about 2e30 kg and the diamond ball is about 5e7 kg, for a ratio of 4e22. (Gamma just gives the amount of rest-masses worth of kinetic energy the thing has, so if you're converting another mass into energy first, just divide the masses to get gamma.)


That is how I calculated the gamma. I got the speed from the gamma because I wanted to show how many 9s there were. As you say, the speed number is ridiculous and pretty much useless due to limitations like the fact that unless you are using arbitrary precision arithmetic you can't even represent that number as anything other than 1, whereas you can round and use scientific notation to represent arbitrarily large gamma values.

At that point, the earth can't possibly noticeably slow down our not-actually-diamond-anymore death ray thing. Would it just punch a hole through the earth? Or would the earth explode at some time after the thing had passed through? Something else? Now that I think about it, 100 ft is less than the Schwarzchild of the sun, so would this be a black hole?

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Re: What-If 0020: Diamond

Postby delefrati » Wed Nov 14, 2012 3:45 am UTC

Well, I know you cannot accelerate something to the light speed. However, special relativity doesn't forbid the existence of something that always moved faster than light (like tachyons)....

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Re: What-If 0020: Diamond

Postby project2051 » Wed Nov 14, 2012 4:45 am UTC

dudiobugtron wrote:
mathmannix wrote:Edit: Hey, is that a real photograph or just entirely photoshopped?


It's definitely real. Don't you remember the day when the Earth was exploded by a massive high-energy meteor impact and we all died? Ah the good old days.

They must have had a pretty good photographer to catch the exact moment of impact on camera though.


Don't you remember, a couple of years ago, when the Earth blew up? And you would think that something like that, people would remember. But NOOO! You don't remember that? The Earth blew up and was completely destroyed? And we escaped to this planet on the giant Space Ark? Where have you been? And the government decided not to tell the stupider people 'cause they thought that it might affect-- Ohhhh! Okay! Uh, let's move on!



Credit to Steve Martin for that one.

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Re: What-If 0020: Diamond

Postby WIMP » Wed Nov 14, 2012 6:09 am UTC

gmalivuk wrote:In a reference frame moving half the velocity of the diamond sphere, these collisions are head-on as well.


Right, and the diamond has lost enough of its energy (and the air molecules are not making up the difference) that the collisions are less energetic than those of the LHC.

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Re: What-If 0020: Diamond

Postby WIMP » Wed Nov 14, 2012 6:12 am UTC

mcdigman wrote: Now that I think about it, 100 ft is less than the Schwarzchild of the sun, so would this be a black hole?


No, because in its rest frame the diamond still just weighs as much as it did before. By this argument, you could make absolutely anything into a black hole by moving fast enough relative to it, until its kinetic energy became large enough.

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Re: What-If 0020: Diamond

Postby Milnoc » Wed Nov 14, 2012 6:24 am UTC

Great!

Read the last paragraph.

Now I can't sleep.


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