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@Gryphon has made me aware of this The Least Interesting Substance It is very close but I need a planet that can form naturally. Would any of the substances mentioned in answers to that question be realistic for a planetary body that had formed naturally?

The Planet Boros

I wish to create an incredibly boring world. It was visited once during a Galactic Survey but it was declared so boring that no-one has ever visited it since.

Question - Part 1

How can I have a realistic planet?

In Part 1 I am particularly concerned with the surface of the planet. I need a surface that (a) is unreactive (b) contains no useful minerals or sources of energy (c) does not create interesting (i.e. large) impact craters (d) is preferably of a grey or other neutral colour.

What substance should this surface be made of? Most importantly it needs to be able to form naturally.


Notes in response to comments

This is a dead planet with no possibility of supporting life. If water can be avoided completely then that is all to the good. Dry dust would be optimal. Preferably an atmosphere to blow the landscape flat and remove craters.

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    $\begingroup$ Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. $\endgroup$ – L.Dutch - Reinstate Monica Feb 23 at 18:37
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    $\begingroup$ It's impossible to create the most boring planet. Imagine that this planet was more boring than any other planet in the universe. Hey! That's pretty interesting! A skilled marketer could easily turn "the most boring planet in the universe" into a tourist trap. $\endgroup$ – Arcanist Lupus Feb 24 at 4:36
  • $\begingroup$ @Arcanist Lupus - Well yes I know about the Least interesting number paradox - en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interesting_number_paradox - but this is different. There are many planets similar to this one and that is part of its boringness. People might look at Boros on video out of curiosity but it's about as interesting as watching paint dry. No-one would pay their life savings to go there when there are so many beautiful planets to see that are much nearer. The least interesting number can be read about on Wikipedia for virtually zero cost. $\endgroup$ – chasly from UK Feb 24 at 9:13
  • $\begingroup$ What does "is unreactive" mean? Chemically? Would not support life? Nothing happens in contact with an atmosphere? $\endgroup$ – Gimelist Feb 24 at 12:26
  • $\begingroup$ @Gimelist - All of those if possible. Definitely no life. That would be far too interesting! $\endgroup$ – chasly from UK Feb 24 at 12:28
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ICE

You want a pure ice planet. Let's look at your criteria:

(a) is unreactive

The surface is ice. Ice is unreactive. Liquid water is extremely reactive, but ice is pretty much inert. It will not be able to support life. It will not be able to dissolve or corrode anything. So yea - unreactive.

(b) contains no useful minerals or sources of energy

Ice is probably one of the most abundant materials in any solar system. Although useful, it is not unique to the planet. No one is going to mine ice from an ice planet, because it's easier to get it elsewhere. H2O might be considered as a source of energy because you can split it to hydrogen and oxygen, but that's really far reaching. Energy is useful to power stuff, and if there's nothing to power, no need to split the water.

(c) does not create interesting (i.e. large) impact craters

The impacts will make craters, but they will freeze soon after after it flows in to fill the water. So no craters.

(d) is preferably of a grey or other neutral colour

Ice is neutral. It will reflect whatever is being shined on it, with some blue tinge if sufficiently clear.

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  • $\begingroup$ Thanks - I'm a little concerned that a planet of pure ice would be quite spectacular to look at. Also could such a thing realistically form? $\endgroup$ – chasly from UK Feb 24 at 12:42
  • $\begingroup$ @chaslyfromUK is a featureless white ball spectacular? It’s subjective, but probably not as much as things like earth or mars. And yes, we have one in our solar system. It’s called Europa. $\endgroup$ – Gimelist Feb 24 at 12:45
  • $\begingroup$ @chaslyfromUK not so spectacular: the ice would likely be covered in boring dust. The main "threat" to boredom would be that such a planet would naturally beg the question, "what could lie beneath the ice?" -- just as it happens with Europa. Yet, once satisfied that there's the expected boring silicate and maybe iron core too deep to do anything with, and nothing special (no life-bearing water oceans) hide just under the crust, anybody would just move on. I think this is the answer you were looking for. $\endgroup$ – LSerni Feb 24 at 14:31
  • $\begingroup$ Even better if it gets just warm enough to melt the surface a bit, so that it's continuously getting smoothed and polished. $\endgroup$ – Sherwood Botsford Feb 24 at 20:29
  • $\begingroup$ "The impacts will make craters, but they will freeze soon after after it flows in to fill the water. So no craters." What flows in? Do you mean tectonic activity? Crustal stress seems needed to produce the geysers which recover the cratered surface, and geysers seem to need a source. With crustal stress, you've likely got internal heating and subsequently potential liquid subcrustal oceans. $\endgroup$ – B.fox Feb 26 at 14:47
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Having found myself unable to come up with a plausible way of having a sizeable celestial body made entirely of boron compounds, I feel that your second best bet is achondrite. Dull grey, almost unreactive, unworthy of extraction from a planetary gravity well.

Your planet will have accreted from a metal-poor planetesimal cloud rich in silicates, will have a rarefied CO2 atmosphere, and no tectonic movements worth mentioning. The surface will be structurally breccia; the lack of large craters requires the system to be pretty clean and quiet, because you won't have much weathering (that could erase the craters, given time).

Another possibility, but which would make the planet less boring, is a very thick "atmosphere" made of starsoot. That would nicely cover and erode any craters, but fullerenes might be worth something (for example as a carbon source). I think I remember some novel in the Man-Kzin War series where a starship found itself landed in a fullerene lake, with all the trouble this entailed.

A thoroughly repulsive planet also featured incidentally in some novel - I might be conflating it with Sawyer's Calculating God's Groombridge 1618 - was "anti-terraformed" to keep people away, so they wouldn't discover that the inhabitants had actually uploaded themselves in a VR engine in the planet's core. In Anvil of Stars (this too I don't remember too vividly), a race of evildoers was also living inside a planet, and kept a pet race of innocents on the surface to fool newcomers.

So, if you're looking at ways of keeping people away, there are other approaches than boredom.

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  • $\begingroup$ Lol - I hadn't thought of using boron! :-) It's a pity it is so useful. I see that boron is formed through Cosmic ray spallation - en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cosmic_ray_spallation - That could perhaps be arranged in the story. $\endgroup$ – chasly from UK Feb 24 at 11:15
  • $\begingroup$ Definitely not an achondrite! Those are meteorites that formed by differentiation and igneous processes. Pretty much any interesting body in the solar system, including Earth, Mars, Moon, etc etc etc. $\endgroup$ – Gimelist Feb 24 at 12:24
  • $\begingroup$ @Gimelist yes, but they can also be originated from larger asteroids; you don't need a full volcano to drive igneous metamorphization. A belt of petrous asteroids slowly coalescing over millions of years could lead to such a formation. $\endgroup$ – LSerni Feb 24 at 14:27
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You cant.

The more boring something is, the most interesting it becomes.

The end result of removing features, is that people will wonder how those non-eventfully and utterly dull features came to be, as you remove more things of interest, it becomes more interesting.

For example, take a 100% perfectly spherical planet. You could consider it boring, because there are no geological differences in terrain across the entire planet. But its interesting because the changes of a planet forming into a 100% sphere would be impossible. Like wise, as you increase features, the question becomes, "How did those extra features form?" making it interesting again. A perfectly spherical planet with 1 crater is also highly interesting, because it raises the question of "How?".

The best way to make something boring, is to make it so common place, it just isn't worth it to pay attention to it, because you already know exactly what it is and can't stop finding it.

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  • $\begingroup$ I'll duplicate a comment I made earlier...... Well yes I know about the Least interesting number paradox - en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interesting_number_paradox - but this is different. There are many planets similar to this one and that is part of its boringness. People might look at Boros on video out of curiosity but it's about as interesting as watching paint dry. No-one would pay their life savings to go there when there are so many beautiful planets to see that are much nearer. $\endgroup$ – chasly from UK Feb 26 at 9:11
  • $\begingroup$ ... and a comment that got moved to chat ... This planet is uninteresting for many combined reasons - the surface is just one. In the Galactic Survey, certain types of planet are commonplace (boring) with no useful resources (not worth revisiting by geologists). So the planet's surface is boring for those reasons and also because it is a dull colour with few features. The first such planet discovered would be interesting by virtue of its uselessness. After a few thousand of these have been found, and scientists knew how they formed, people would recognise them as being worthless/boring. $\endgroup$ – chasly from UK Feb 26 at 9:13
  • $\begingroup$ This should be the answer. If it's something you've seen a thousand times before, you'll land. Take a few notes. "Yep. Just another lifeless rocky inner planet. Saw 80 of these things in the last 20 surveys of other star systems. Nothing new to see here. Hey, let's go back to that one planet with the fountain of lava arching up to its moon and falling back down again. That was cool!" $\endgroup$ – Greg Burghardt Feb 26 at 19:22
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I don't think there is a good answer to this question, anything and everything on any planet or moon could be harvested and mined for something. I would say a gas planet made of waste like CO2, but that could be harvested for O2 and carbon is an amazing building block as well. There is no substance that could not be utilized in some sort of way, so instead of trying to make it boring. maybe instead of making a boring planet, you should make one that is just not very valuable. try making it out of the most common thing on market, something that no one would want to harvest because everyone already has it, or can get it somewhere cheaper.

As for the size and surface of the planet, just make it an object so small it could almost be considered an asteroid, and then make its surface like that of the moon. (I guess)

This was a great question, but I just don't think that it can be answered.

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    $\begingroup$ If you don't think a question can be answered, don't post an answer. Instead, leave a comment suggesting ways that the post can be made more answerable. $\endgroup$ – F1Krazy Feb 23 at 22:55

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