#FridayFlash: Land, Ho!

"Why Madrid and Wellington? Not that I have anything against Spaniards or Kiwis, but a connection like that isn't nearly as useful as, say, New York-to-Tokyo or London-to-Beijing. Why not run the line between bigger cities like that?"

"Because those site-pairs aren't antipodal through the center of the earth. The chronospatial displacement beam won't work if it isn't perpendicular to the gravity field."

"Why not?"

"You need the graviton density of the Earth's core to stabilize the beam with respect to the timeslip. Otherwise, instead of the material being displaced backward in time by thirty seconds, it might be as little as one second. That's not enough time for the Earth to move out of the way along its orbit. We can dump matter backwards if it's going into the vacuum of space, but a one second displacement dumps it on top of another part of the Earth. And since two atoms can't occupy the same space -"

"A billion tons of rock and iron will turn into energy, blowing up the planet in a displacement explosion."

"Exactly. So, we need to have land on both sides of the planet, and that really limits the placement of our transfer sites. It can't be land-to-water; it has to be a land-to-land. And if they aren't near a major population, we'd have to build up too much infrastructure to make the project economically feasible. After energy walls of the Madrid-to-Wellington tunnel are stable, we can do Shanghai-to-Buenos Aires, Quito-to-Kuala Lampur, Santiago-to-Xi'an. We could also do a Honolulu-to-Botswana and Mongolia-to-Cape of Good Hope, but there's not much point, economically speaking."

"I'm surprised the Americans aren't insisting on doing the Honolulu-to-Botswana tunnel first."

"Oh, their noses are out of joint because there's nothing on the other side of the continental U.S. except the Indian Ocean. There's no infrastructure in Botswana and getting materials in and out of Honolulu doesn't really do much for you, industrially speaking. You're still in the middle of the Pacific Ocean."

"Hey, wait a minute."


"You said we had to wait until the energy walls of the tunnel are stable, right?"

"Sure. Why?"

"Without the repulsor fields, the tunnel collapses, doesn't it?"

"Yeah, they're the only thing holding back the superhot material at the core. It's like 9000 degrees down there. Without the repulsors anything sent through the tunnel would be burnt to a crisp. So?"

"What happens if we de-collimate the repulsor fields? Not enough to make the tunnel collapse, but just enough to make the walls a little unstable. What would happen?"

"Don't be an idiot. The pressure at the core would force the molten nickel-iron into the tunnel. It would be unusable."

"Right, but then what would happen?"

"Huh? You'd have a geyser from both ends, shooting a million tons of... molten... metal... oh my god."

"Exactly! Wherever it emerges under the ocean, you'd have a brand new island made of solid iron. You'd have a mess to clean up on the other side, but it's all high-grade metal. Once the new island cools sufficiently, you level it off, build a seaport on top of it and shoot a tunnel back through the other side."

"You, my friend, aren't nearly as dumb as you look."

"I've been telling you that for years. Get the Americans on the phone."


n.b. I used this website in writing this week's story: "Tunnel To The Other Side Of The Earth"

===== Feel free to comment on this or any other post.


  1. Replies
    1. Within every problem lies the seed of its own solution!

  2. Does somebody die? Does the tunnel go through hell? Do evil souls and demons escape hell through the tunnel?

  3. The ability to take complex ideas and make them plausible it a rare gift, Tony. I never thought of it before - what is straight across from the U.S., on the other side of the world. Like your character, this piece is genius.

  4. Ah, just dumb enough to work! I like it! :D

  5. I wouldn't say this rendered the idea plausible. If anything, the duo unspooling the idea made it increasingly goofy and thereby more amusing.

    1. This starts off pretty goofy, with half a dozen impossibilities built right in. ;-)

  6. sounds like fracking for metal ores to me :-)

    marc nash

    1. Easiest source of high-grade nickel-iron ever!

  7. It'll work… for a while. Until the seawater turns that iron island into rust! But it's amazing what problems can be solved by a little brainstorming. Pretty cool story, all in all.

    1. I started to run the numbers on how long it would take a seamount of solid iron to rust... then I came to my senses.


  8. What a concept Tony, and you nailed the voice to relate it. Great work!

  9. I like the way you bamboozle me with the science Tony. I'll take your word for it that that's how the physics/chemistry would work. The tone, the humour, the focus at the start on the economics of mass tranport, it all works so well. Do the airlines go through this when deciding on which new routes to open up I wonder?

    1. Airlines absolutely make these decisions about routes. Everything from likely traffic density to and from, cost of refueling at each location, cost of local labor, availability of technical support/parts/equipment at each end...

      I'm glad you like the bamboozling!

  10. Tony,

    Well done! Please tell me they named the new Island, "Knee?"

    Also, this reminds me of the Total Recall reboot I watched recently which included the sending of a vehicle the size of a medium office building from one side of the Earth through to the other via the core.

    In 17 minutes.

    I did the rough math to figure out they'd be having to go ~27,000mph to make it there, but my physics is rusty enough that I didn't even attempt to figure out the G-load of necessary acceleration. Indeed, in the movie the difficulty seemed to be the "flip" when they transitioned from their departure's "down" to their destination's!

    Which is a long winded way of saying that they should've hired you to make it not so wretched :-)

    All the best,

  11. I love how you make this work so well with dialog alone. We have no idea who these people are, but at the same time we know everything we need to know and then some. All the science, I don't understand, but it's an excellent example of the power of dialog.

  12. LOL I am surprised he didn't suggest mining!!! (Sounds like mining, too.)


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