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So, I have this planet. Located on this planet is the call centre that keeps phoning at dinner time and will not shut up, even after I demanded to be added to their Do Not Call list, changed my phone number, and blocked every number they use.

It's clear at this point that the only way for me to get some peace and quiet is to utterly obliterate all life from the surface of this planet.

I check my pockets. I have:

  • Cheap and efficient fusion power
  • A small network of semi-stable wormholes for interstellar travel between seven pre-defined star systems
  • Access to building materials roughly as strong as carbon nanotubes or graphene
  • All the usual appurtenances of late 21st century technology (technology that is presently, as of 2016, cutting-edge research, like quick gene modification, high-capacity power systems, room-temperature superconductors).

I want to ensure that the next person who sets up a call centre knows exactly what will happen to them.

I don't want to just wipe out life - I want to do it in an extravagent, over-the top, obvious, and spectacular fashion.

I don't want something that can be mistaken for just a planet with really bad luck.

Some options I have considered:

  • Asteroid bombardment is too easy to mistake for a natural phenomenon. I don't want anyone who comes along to thing this might have been an accident.
  • Nuke it from orbit. It's the only way to be sure. I may be sure, but it could look like something a developing civilisation did to themselves. It doesn't send a message.
  • Blast it with gamma rays. Same problem as asteroid bombardment - it could have been a natural gamma ray burst.

Thoughts that I can't really evaluate:

  • Change the orbit. If I spend a few centuries swinging asteroids around near the planet, I could either speed it up or slow it down, changing its orbit to either freeze or fry. But could I make that orbit look artificial enough to send the message?
  • Strip the atmosphere. Not sure if there's a showy way to do this in a reasonable time.
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    $\begingroup$ Voting to close as opinion based. The purpose of WB SE is not to brainstorm ideas for you, it's to offer feedback on ideas of your own. $\endgroup$
    – AndreiROM
    Nov 21 '16 at 16:01
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    $\begingroup$ I do not think it is entirely opinion based. There are limited number of ways to remove all life from a planet. As the opinon based statement says, "Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience." $\endgroup$
    – kingledion
    Nov 21 '16 at 16:07
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    $\begingroup$ @kingledion There’s no objective way to measure “showiest”. That standard of measurement is entirely opinion based and with the loose constraints on the question there are hundreds of potentially correct answers. $\endgroup$
    – Avernium
    Nov 21 '16 at 16:28
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    $\begingroup$ @kingledion - FTL drive is impossible as far as our understanding of physics goes. Once the OP introduces tech of that level who's to say that he couldn't just make up some other technology to use against that planet, such as an "FTL BOMB" or whatever. Opinion based. $\endgroup$
    – AndreiROM
    Nov 21 '16 at 16:29
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    $\begingroup$ @werrf - I'll just go ahead and explain my reasoning. You're a mighty civilization who has access to all sort of fancy technologies (not just cheap and efficient fusion, and the ability to manufacture carbon nanotube). You wish us to come up with various, and very obviously deliberate ways of destroying a planet. I can think of 10 just off the top of my mind. Boiling their oceans, or unleashing a swarm of nanobots which were previously used to create carbon nanotube, for example. Which is the best solution? Your only criteria for the "best" answer is that it be "extravagant". $\endgroup$
    – AndreiROM
    Nov 21 '16 at 17:35
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If the offending planet has a moon, I'd tether the moon to the planet using your nanotubes and let the moon wrap itself around the planet, eventually crashing into the planet and sterilizing it. This would take a while, basically the distance of the moon divided by the circumference of the planet but would definitely send a message as the environmental damage from superheated carbon cable wrapping around the equatorial region of the planet over and over causes all sorts of trouble until eventual doom.

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    $\begingroup$ Ooh, that's brutal! I'm not sure if the cable would be strong enough, though, or the exact mechanics I'd use - presumably I'd affix the cable to a point or points on the planet, then do the same with the moon, and the planet's own rotation would draw the moon in - but wouldn't that also slow the rotation of the planet until the planet was tidally locked, and then settle into equilibrium? $\endgroup$
    – Werrf
    Nov 21 '16 at 15:57
  • $\begingroup$ Should we answer off-topic questions? $\endgroup$
    – AndreiROM
    Nov 21 '16 at 16:02
  • $\begingroup$ @Werrf Depends on the moon, I suppose. A low orbit one like Phobos around Mars wouldn't need a very long tether, but of course I don't think a little moonlet would have the mass necessary to sterilize the surface. Perhaps you could install fusion engines to help the moon drop in orbit (slowing it so the planets gravity pulls it in) while the tether is "just for effect" :) $\endgroup$
    – Jason K
    Nov 21 '16 at 16:02
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Melt the Earth's surface

Here on Worldbuilding there is plenty of good information.

From Atomic Rockets, via that link, $1\times10^{27} \text{ J}$ should do the trick; boiling the oceans and removing the atmosphere should pretty effectively sterilize everything down to the bacterial level. If you want to be sure you're sure everything is gone, $3\times10^{28} \text{ J}$ will melt the crust. Nothing is surviving that.

So how do we provide so much energy, which as the link points out is more than the total output of the sun each second? Impact, obviously. Your energy investment over many months and years of moving an asteroid onto a collision course with earth will pay off all in one big boom of a withdrawal. Set up your fusion power and engines on said asteroid, move it to a collision course with earth over some period of time, and let Kepler and Newton do the rest.

For a 40 km/s space object hitting the earth to melt the crust, we need about$4\times10^13 \text{ kg}$, which is a medium sized asteroid. Those aren't too hard to find: 4179 Toutatis is about that size and came within 18 lunar distances of earth.

So, find an appropriate asteroid, accelerate it to a collision course with earth, go back to eating dinner in peace.

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  • $\begingroup$ Should we answer off-topic questions? $\endgroup$
    – AndreiROM
    Nov 21 '16 at 16:04
  • $\begingroup$ @AndreiROM I didn't consider that it was opinion-based or see a close vote before answering, so I judge myself not-guilty. $\endgroup$
    – kingledion
    Nov 21 '16 at 16:05
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The problem with this type of question is the same as with the question "What can I make if I only have three things in my pocket: A rubber-band, a paper clip, and a magic wand?" As soon as you allow the existence of fantasy elements, all bets are off. If you have FTL drive, then you've violated the known laws of physics; any such violation is fantasy and is equivalent to a magic wand. Constraining the violation in any way would be completely arbitrary and depends on the whims of the author. I've zero idea what "late 21st Century" technology is supposed to be. The most obvious, and most low-tech approach is orbital bombardment. Or using a couple of hundred thousand 100 megaton H-bombs. Or causing a superflare on their sun. Or forcing their sun to go supernova. Or pointing a pulsar at them. Assuming you wanted the effects to be local only, then a superflare, disruption of the magnetic field, break-up of the crust, or most easily, orbital bombardment with "rocks" (or comets) would be the way to go. Why not both a superflare followed by a century or two of massive asteroid strikes if you want a light show?

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