What if a atom-thick stick (made out of howconvenienthium) crosses the earth perfectly "vertically" at sufficient speed? Would it succeed into going through the earth as if (almost) nothing happened?

I came across many theories about "extremely thin" materials that could cut things neatly (I first came across that in a StarGate episode, but whatever), so I was wondering if, putting aside the material resistance to bending/breaking, it was hypothetically possible to cut/pierce anything if the object was thin enough?

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    $\begingroup$ Am I correct in assuming howconvenienthium is perfectly a indestructible substance, and that it won't bend, stretch, or otherwise change shape? $\endgroup$ – Ranger Aug 8 '16 at 16:37
  • $\begingroup$ The idea of a single atom thick cutting device predates StarGate by decades. Called Tensor-blades or Vibra-blades, they usually involved a string of adjacent atoms held in place by some energy or force field. As far as I know, the ancient books of our craft never postulated one large enough to split a planet, but the consensus was that such blades would operate like normal blades, cutting whole objects into seperate parts, but with no resistance as the blade passed through, no matter how dense the substance. The only think such a blade couldn't cut was another blade of the same type. $\endgroup$ – Henry Taylor Aug 8 '16 at 16:44
  • $\begingroup$ @HenryTaylor There would have to be resistance of some sort as at some point you're forced to cut (shove aside?) molecular chains, as I'm fairly certain the chances of managing to weave between the gaps of molecules even with an quark-width blade the width of a planet would be zero. Individual neutrons can speed through the planet unhampered almost always, but they're not 8,000 miles wide. $\endgroup$ – Ranger Aug 8 '16 at 16:52
  • $\begingroup$ @NexTerren, Which is exactly what I am writing in the answer that I am working on. $\endgroup$ – Henry Taylor Aug 8 '16 at 16:54
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I don't think so, at least not without some impetus moving it forward towards and through the target planet. Your material is one atom thick in its smallest dimension, so the point of impact between it and the target will be at least one atom wide. That atom, when it encounters the outer electron shell of the target atoms will bounce off unless some force pushes it onward.

In the case of a regular blade, that force is usually provided by the arm of the hand that holds it. (...or in my case, the momentum which the blade has picked up after I dropped it towards my foot).

Your super thin material lacks a source for that force. Being super thin, it probably doesn't have much mass, so it will not be striking the planet with a lot of momentum. It will just hit us lightly and then lie on the ground like every other victim of Earth's gravity.


Adding to what Thucydides writes, suppose you did have a supermaterial, consider the real experiment of passing a copper wire through a block of ice. Drape the wire over the block and hang weights from each end, and the wire will pass through the block in a day or two but not leave a cut behind!

Cutting the mantle of the planet would be like cutting dough while it’s still being forced together under pressure.


The only plausible substances would be exotica like a string of neutronium held together by artificial means, a quark nugget or perhaps a cosmic string.

The static pressure of the planets mass means that everything is essentially a liquid under very high pressure, which would cause any device made of ordinary matter to suffer massive drag as it passed deeper and deeper into the planet. Neutronium, quark matter or cosmic strings are orders of magnitude denser than conventional matter, and the strong nuclear force is invoked at this point as the method of binding particles together, which is massively greater than the electrical bonding of molecules.

There is actually some controversial evidence of quark nuggets penetrating the earth, as recorded by seismic monitors around the world. See also here.

  • $\begingroup$ On that BBC link: I consider the reporting to be low quality. The esistence of quark stars (colortflavor locking under intense pressure!) is utterly different from stable low-mass strangelets. $\endgroup$ – JDługosz Aug 8 '16 at 21:41

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