Footnotes on The Core

  1. Even top-notch engineers and scientists will speculate wildly when they're off-the-record. We define on-the-record as those times when their written or oral communications are likely to be taken seriously and directly attributed to the scientist or engineer making them. Surely answering a direct question posed by a general would fall into this category.
  2. the "Tsar Bomba" was tested on October 1961 and yielded only 50 megatons. However, it was tested in a modified form to prevent nuclear fallout. As designed, it probably would have yielded the full 100 megatons.
  3. The Mk/B-53 is the highest yield nuclear bomb currently available in the U.S. arsenal. It was designed to be dropped by B-52 bombers. The Mark 41 was the most powerful nuclear bomb ever stockpiled in the U.S. arsenal. It yielded only 25 megatons and was retired in July 1976. Its warhead portion weighed about 2700 kg or 6000 lbs. The weight would be over 59,000 kg or 130,000 lb if this bomb were scaled up to 200 megatons. Most nuclear bombs in the U.S. arsenal yield less than 1 megaton. The smaller bombs are more effective as weapons since several small bombs can wipe out a greater area than a single big bomb with the same yield. Big bombs waste a lot of their energy digging deeper blast craters.
  4. Richard Feynan, What Do You Care What Other People Think?, W. W.Norton and Company, 1988, paperback, p. 191. Feynman was part of the team which investigated the Challenger space shuttle disaster. In his book he gives a detailed account of the investigation including an account of the space shuttle's landing system.
  5. Since we did not find an actual spec on the Golden Gate Bridge's paint we quoted a possible range based on paint data from several sources. However, we suspect the actual solar absorption will be much closer to 90% than 60%.
  6. Gobles became an instant Internet Celebrity when he first posted video clips of his now famous experiment complete with a sound track. Unfortunately, those hosting his site made him remove it. Gobles cautioned against allowing even a single charcoal briquette to soak in liquid oxygen. According to his calculations, it would explode with the energy of a stick of dynamite when ignited.
  7. Under the extreme pressures and temperatures in the mantle, a "gas" would probably act like a different state of matter. "Gas" type molecules would probably also have high levels of solubility in mantle material or chemically react with it, making the possibility of finding a gas molecule pocket very unlikely. The high pressure process for making low density polyethylene plastic (used in plastic bags) compresses ethylene gas to about 2000 atmospheres and heats it to around 260 degrees C. (500 degrees F.). At these pressures ethylene has a liquid-like density and is almost incompressible. Yet, its viscosity increases with temperature the way gasses typically behave. In the presence of an initiator, high pressure ethylene actually reacts with itself to form polymers. Even though polyethylene process pressures are second only to diamond making they still fall far short of the unimaginatively high pressures and temperatures in the mantle.
  8. This was one of the silliest and most overdone scenes in the movie. At one point Brazelton removes the cover from an electrical box supposedly to bypass automatic safety devices which had closed the bulkhead door, trapping the hapless Serge. The box contains a solderless breadboard with a bunch of wires stuck in it. Breadboards of this type are used in electronics classes to temporarily build experimental circuits.  They would never be used for wire connections in a vehicle.

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