January 27th, 2007
Today, like any other weekday, I packed my laptop up, put my wallet, keys, cell phone, badge, and PDA in my jacket. Fed & watered the kittens as usual. I even petted them a little until Tera and Meg started purring.
The difference is that today isn't a weekday. I'm not going to work today. Today, I'm going to the launch facility.
I'm usually quiet about my work. Usually, it's uninteresting. Frequently, it's minor bit twiddling. However, one of the things I've been asked to look into is plate tectonic movement. There was some very interesting work by Arne Saknussem, verified some thousand years later by A. Lidenbrock, O. Lidenbrock, and H. Bjelke.
It has been thought for some time that earthquakes are caused by tectonic plates moving about. Every schoolboy knows that the lithosphere is broken up into chunks and they move about on the asthenosphere independently between half and 8 and a half centimeters a year. Most people when queried about their initial impetus will say it's the result of convection currents. This was believed to be true, but has been outmoded by a newer theory involving the subduction of denser oceanic plates and a revived theory about tidal forces from our moon.
My research has shown that the moon is primarily the cause.
It turns out to have a number of supporting arguments. Note that Mars and Venus have no tectonic movement. Deimos and Phobos are far too small to have any significant force on Mars and Venus has no moons.
As it turns out, this is our opportunity to rid the world of earthquakes and put cartographers out of a job once and for all. Plates will eventually grind to a halt, the friction transferring the kinetic energy slowly into heat. Some of the more prone to fear believed that this could strongly affect global warming. These fears were put to rest early on when it was shown to be of low magnitude over a relatively long period of time.
Obviously, I have a vested interest in this. The places I plan on living right now are all very near the fast moving Pacific plate. If we can slow that down, California will finally be the paradise it's associated with. The only negative -- earthquakes -- will have been made a thing of the past.
I've taken the precaution of quietly buying up land there whenever possible on speculation. I suppose this is not unlike a boxer betting everything he has on himself before a title bout. The difference is that science is on my side and I needn't only trust myself.
This all comes at an interesting time. It turns out the reason the international community was so quiet about the destruction of the Chinese weather satellite is that it was a test. Not of a space weapon (kinetic kill vehicles are hardly high technology), but of a targeting system.
And we're using it.
One wouldn't think that you'd need to be very accurate to propel something at the moon -- it's awfully hard to miss. Fears from the 1960s notwithstanding. The reason we need that accuracy is that we're about to pull off the biggest pool shot in history. Only the cue ball is being shot from one of the other balls and they all have a lot of gravity involved.
The cue ball in this case needs to provide about 1.78*10^20 kg/m^2 of acceleration to counter Earth's own at apogee. That's about 1.31*10^43 N of force. Consider, for a moment, that the Tsar Bomba generated a mere 2.39*10^14 J and you can see we're in a little bit of trouble here.
The answer (as any CS person could tell you) is to parallelize, amortize, and use better technology. We're doing all of the above.
At exactly 7:46pm PST this evening, you may hear a sonic boom depending on your location. Those in Seattle will be treated to a series of four. You may hear messages about this through a number of news sources.
3 days from now, you'll be treated to the non-sight of the most impressive and precisely timed release of energy that mankind has ever put together.
The reason you haven't heard of it was to prevent protests. Greenpeace activists would be over the displacement of an object from its "natural" state in a second. Let alone that we're using nuclear devices in order to generate that sort of momentum.
It is our hope that with a series of similar launches, we will successfully dislodge the moon from orbit around the Earth. I haven't been privy to much of the orbital calculations. I've heard people say that it'll be captured by Mars, Ceres, and Jupiter. None of which sound right to me. All I know is to expect the moon to be less and less of a feature in the night sky.
Wish us luck, friends. With fortune, we may yet conquer another aspect of nature which so cruelly preys on man and man's work.
Ok, so get rid of the moon, just to avoid some earthquakes? That doesn't seem right. If we could put it in a higher orbit, maybe it would have less of an effect.
Tidal forces have other effects of course, but earthquakes were the original impetus for the project. Keep in mind that this would also effectively prevent the tsunami in Asia a little while back.
Think of the number of people who have died from such incidents and it stops being "just" to avoid some earthquakes.
The problem is that orbits are not circular, but elliptical. Putting it in a higher orbit would not remove the effects, but protract them when it came to perigee.
What's the projected effect on the oceans? (tidal, marine life)
Minimal. Nature is a sturdy machine. Wind is still a major tide creating force. It's expected that while waves might not be as impressive as surfers may hope, there will be enough to support normal ocean currents. There may be a dropoff of life in the intertidal zone, but by and large, natural selection will adjust and correct.