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129 votes
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Let’s say a 1 ton (US) sphere of tungsten moving at 99.99% the speed of light hits earth, what happens? As specific as possible

This turned out unexpectedly fun... and for once the answer to a question involving 99.99% of the speed of light isn't "everybody dies" Where is this sphere being fired from? If it's from ...
Murphy's user avatar
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107 votes
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Does a grenade kill you the same way a gun does?

What a wonderfully macabre question! This calls for cited sources! First off, I'd like to point out that you are correct to notice the similarities between a grenade and a rifle round. Both have ...
Cort Ammon's user avatar
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99 votes
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How would someone destroy a dam in a world without explosives?

Forts using stone, rock and earth walls as fortifications (and in some cases, still standing !) were often attacked during sieges. Such a wall has much in common with a dam. To breach such a wall ...
StephenG - Help Ukraine's user avatar
76 votes
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What's the largest body in the solar system that you could destroy without endangering humanity?

Ganymede No matter which one you go for, blowing up a planet is going to make a lot of shrapnel. An asteroid of several miles long is an extinction-level event, and you've just thrown millions of ...
IndigoFenix's user avatar
  • 29.1k
69 votes

Consequences of an Earth-size object hitting the Sun?

Fzzt. The sun is big. Source It's not the biggest thing out there by a long shot: ... but in our neighborhood, it's the biggest fish in the pond by far. Heck, the Sun belches bigger than us: (...
KeithS's user avatar
  • 6,601
67 votes

How would someone destroy a dam in a world without explosives?

A more devious scheme to bring a dam down: A secret second dam above the main target dam. You simply install a second dam above the main dam (as high as possible ideally). You reduce the flow ...
Thorsten S.'s user avatar
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64 votes
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How can I create explosions without using oxygen?

Almost all currently used explosives have an oxidant (or it's equivalent) "built-in". They already work in space, under water, etc just as well. Let's look at thermite (which is not an explosive, ...
Agent_L's user avatar
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64 votes
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How would skeptics know that a single-engine plane could not destroy a falling meteor?

I’m going to address this as a general question about using airplanes to stop meteors, rather than the very plot specific way the question is worded. Nope. For one very simple reason: Speed. ...
Joe Bloggs's user avatar
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63 votes
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How to trigger explosive arrows?

Historically speaking, timed fuses were far preferred to impact triggers for exactly this reason. Estimating the time of an arrow flight from the distance is a pretty straightforward affair, and if ...
Cadence's user avatar
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56 votes

Feasibility of H.G. Wells' Continuously-Exploding Atomic Bombs

Having had a quick read of the source material, it seems clear that the devices do not explode as such, but vigourously emit heat and radiation sufficient to burn and melt their surroundings. We ...
Starfish Prime's user avatar
52 votes

What would be the effect(s) of this asteroid?

Everything Dies The combination of mass and velocity is inescapable. The follow-on asteroids don't matter. The initial impact will do the trick. Half the mass of the moon is approximately 36 ...
jdunlop's user avatar
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49 votes
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If you were wearing a bomb suit, would it be safe to set off a Claymore mine strapped to your chest?

Not survivable Imagine you removed the plastic body and ball bearings from a Claymore, so that all that is remaining is a layer of about 700 g of explosive. The quantity of explosive is several times ...
KerrAvon2055's user avatar
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48 votes
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Are endothermic bombs possible?

Gas expansion This process is already around us on an everyday basis. It is the thing that makes it rain. When you have a gas closed in some capsule and around it is lower pressure (and ideally ...
Antoine Hejlík's user avatar
46 votes

The students have blown up the school using stuff that looks like snow. How?

DISCLAIMER: DON'T TRY THIS AT HOME, SCHOOL OR WHEREVER YOUR YOUNG AGE TAKES YOU You are looking for a dust explosions, which can be caused by grain, flour, starch, sugar, powdered milk, cocoa, ...
L.Dutch's user avatar
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43 votes

Let’s say a 1 ton (US) sphere of tungsten moving at 99.99% the speed of light hits earth, what happens? As specific as possible

According to WolphramAlpha, the relativistic kinetic energy of such a bullet would be $6.265 \cdot 10^{21} \ \mathrm J$, or 1.5 million megatons. The gravitational binding energy of Earth is $2 \cdot ...
L.Dutch's user avatar
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42 votes
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How realistic are explosive collars?

Quite realistic. Any low level smartphone is more than capable of being used as the control terminal. If you want it rugged and with good battery life, let's say that it weights 300 gr (with all the ...
SJuan76's user avatar
  • 13.7k
42 votes

How realistic are explosive collars?

The case of Brian Douglas Wells is exactly what you are looking for. Brian Douglas Wells (November 15, 1956 – August 28, 2003) was an American pizza delivery man who was killed by a remotely ...
Inbar Rose's user avatar
  • 1,886
40 votes
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Would the "Rods from God" satellite actually create an explosion?

First off Mach 10+ is significantly slower than orbital velocity. Objects in low earth orbit are traveling at over 7 kilometers per second, which is roughly Mach 20. This would be a serious explosion....
sphennings's user avatar
  • 21.4k
36 votes

How to trigger explosive arrows?

An Engineer of your stone-age tribe sat down one day with a quiver of arrows. He knew that the black powder the alchemists created was a powerful weapon and that if he could figure out how to imbue ...
Schrodinger'sStat's user avatar
35 votes

How much should a nuclear explosion be slowed for its energy to be safely converted to electrical energy?

It's not that simple. A nuclear explosion is not a simple thing. It comes in phases. Those phases are, of course, separated by very small amounts of time. One phase is the release of gamma rays. You ...
Dan's user avatar
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35 votes
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Could a race create a 1 Megaton non nuclear explosion?

Yes. We could do that today if we had a really good reason. All of the high explosives we can reasonably work with have an explosive performance of less that 2x that of TNT per weight unit, so let's ...
Robert Rapplean's user avatar
31 votes
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chance of surviving a planet killer explosion

Your death star blast is so weak that they wont notice it. 9km/s is below the 11.1km/s you need to break out of Earths gravity well. All those chunks are going up, slowing down, and coalescing back ...
Ash's user avatar
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30 votes
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How to create stone-age landmines?

The best weapon is fear. A fist or a spear or a bomb works while you are using it. Fear and uncertainty keep working on your enemy after he goes home. Fear is contagious - it will work on his ...
Willk's user avatar
  • 305k
30 votes

How would skeptics know that a single-engine plane could not destroy a falling meteor?

Not possible because meteorites move with 11 to 72 km/s. The best chemical explosive octanitrocubane create shockwaves with 10 km/s. This means if the shockwave of the entering meteorite is not ...
Thorsten S.'s user avatar
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30 votes
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What would be the effect(s) of this asteroid?

Earth is gone. The Moon is gone. Mars gets nuked. The entire Solar System becomes hotter than Mercury for a couple days. The Sun will appear to glow up to 12,000 times brighter. The Solar System will ...
BBeast's user avatar
  • 2,161
30 votes

What kind of substance that existed in the Middle Ages could, when ignited, potentially destroy everything within several miles?

If it is the aim of the villain to make a trap or to make a bang big enough to destroy a town, then a dust explosion could easily fit the description. A villain might reasonably know about the ...
Monty Wild's user avatar
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29 votes
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What explosives could a small stone-age island nation feasibly discover?

Yes they can. First, we need to know what Gunpowder is. Luckily we have Wikipedia, they will need an inventor. Will make a good story on how to get to gunpowder, methinks. Your island(s group) are ...
Flummox uses codidact.com's user avatar
28 votes

The students have blown up the school using stuff that looks like snow. How?

The most popular explosives are already crystallized like snowflakes. Example: Nitroglycerin - has melting point at 14C, but can easily overcool to negative numbers. It needs shaking to crystallize, ...
ksbes's user avatar
  • 9,923
27 votes
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How would an energy-based "projectile" blow up a spaceship?

Wouldn't the surface of the spaceship absorbs all the energy from the pulse and burns? It might or might not absorb all of the energy, depending on what type of weapon is being considered (different ...
Cadence's user avatar
  • 38.5k
27 votes

Would the "Rods from God" satellite actually create an explosion?

You will get a "Dark" Explosion Non-explosive artillery can still have a significant explosive effect. That said, it will not make the sort of "fireball" explosion you get from a ...
Nosajimiki's user avatar
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