What’s that old axiom about “problems” and “high explosives?”


To paraphrase inaccurately:

Iceberg B15A, 1200 square miles of frozen surreal-estate, has been predicted to attempt the world’s first observed “reverse calving,” by slamming into the Drygalski Ice Tongue as if to return to the iceberg womb (forget that this particular womb is not the one that spawned it for a moment), but it keeps not happening.

The collision is supposed to be a slow-mo spectacular, and though nobody knows what will happen, they HOPE that it’ll open up some space for icebreakers (the ships, not the party games) to get through to Antarctic stations.

You need some ice cleared? Well, since Human Waste Heat is NOT at the root of the global warming trends (waste HEAT, I said), I recommend applying large amounts of heat to this iceberg very, very quickly. Let’s find out what the hydrostatic effects are of bunker-buster missles. Will the overpressure of a MOAB or Daisycutter be sufficient to crack something that large? Do we have any space rocks handy we can drop on it?

COME ON, people. Sitting around and watching the ice floe is not spectacular, even in slo-mo, if it’s grounded. “There are very few problems that cannot be solved through the suitable application of high explosives.” I’m sure that the race of beings which chopped, bored, and blasted a gap between North and South America a century ago can figure out how to cut up a wee ice cube.

Just be sure to get it on film, okay?


27 thoughts on “What’s that old axiom about “problems” and “high explosives?””

  1. And just watch the outrage and howling start from various folks who will point to the Antarctic Treaties which as I recall prohibit weapons (at least large ones) on that continent – and probably its ice shelves as well. Not that blasting or otherwise nudging things along is a bad idea, just that there is an impediment worse than the ground or ice involved.

    1. Eh, if you use an orbital strike, the weapon won’t actually be on the continent nor shelves, only on the iceberg for a brief moment. 🙂

    2. Bah. It’s not a sword. It’s a plowshare. See, the missile has very clearly been labled “Ice-breaking Device for Humanitarian Missions.”

      Careful, though. That paint is still wet.


        1. Dude… that’s a perfect name for such a project! Especially if the application secretly isn’t peaceful at all…


          1. God dammit… :>
            Well, this one really WAS looking for peaceful applications of megaton explosions. What I have in mind would be nothing of the sort. :>

  2. it’ll do bugger all

    dad was down in the antarctic and has footage of when they set off a pyre consisting of railway sleepers and contaminated diesel. Did stuff all to the ice underneath (several meters thick, iirc). Even nukes would have trouble denting that thing (well, the smaller ones anyway).

      1. Oxygen bombs! Cool!

        Can you imagine two races bombing each other with their atmospheres and detonators?

        Yes, I know that our atmosphere is only about 20% oxygen, but somehow the whole concept just amuses me.

        1. That 20% seems to be plenty for F/A bombs… :>
          Really, they wouldn’t see it that way… to a theoretical methane-breathing species, oxygen would be considered flammable! And toxic and corrosive besides… Hah! Oxygen as a WMD!

          1. Still is! Well, rather, I’d tend to say it was no more toxic than the chemicals any living thing excretes. It’s definitely quite reactive, but that’s what makes it such a handy chemical for life…

          2. Maybe, but somehow I don’t think so. Life kinda requires something that unstable–you have to keep doing all these crazy chemical reactions, and the energy difference between the states has to be small enough to run on, well, solar energy. If there was an alien who considered Earth toxic, we’d probably consider his world just as bad.

  3. Nuke the …. Iceberg!

    The A-Bombs we dropped on Japan would probably not even be noticed. What you’d want is most of that energy converted to thermal and directed at it. I have no clue if those staples of miltiary SF, the bomb pumped X-Ray laser can be done at infrared frequencies but I’m not opposed to restarting our nuke program to find out. 🙂

  4. Guns, guns, guns. Get a few hundred tons of coal dust, some planes to spread it, five or six square kilometers of aluminized mylar, a light-weight maneuverable frame for the mylar, and a space shuttle. Then simply let there be light.

  5. “old axiom”? That’s my sig line! [and I originated it.]

    Anyway the keyword here is “suitable” I mean, a foot thickness of ice is equivalent to 6 inchs of armour steel! [so a mile or so isn’t even going to notice the biggest nukes we’ve got] Ergo, a simple blast isn’t going to make a lot of difference.

    No, the solution here is a little more complex.
    What we got here is a slab of ice, 90 miles wide by about a mile thick. The thing to remember about is that it’s flexable slightly.

    Ok. Now we do need to use explosives of a sort, a mix of coal-dust and solid-oxygen [that stuff they use in welding] should have the right properties. We need something that’s above all else cheap, because you’d need loads of it, several thousand tons actually.

    What we should do is start making large linear “bombs” of the stuff, and detonate them at alternating edges of the iceberg, each one of which will cause that edge to dip, and ‘bob’ slightly, sending a ripple through the ‘berg.

    The trick is to time the explosions just right, and cause a resonance effect. The aim being to set up constructive interferance, and thus cause the ‘berg to tear itself apart.

    I should think it’d be one of those situations where nothing much appears to happen for ages [apart from these huge explosions at regular intervals] and then suddenly everything happens at once when the berg begins to shimmy and shatters.

    1. Berg busting

      You need to get the explosive force, say a ten-K nuke, underneath the giant-slab-o-ice. You would need a modified torpedo to withstand the pressure at 5,000ft+ and have the range to swim from the edge to near center. Should do nicely.

      If you`re worried about treaties and radioactive by-products, a like amount (10-20 Ktons) of conventional explosive would probably work the same.

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