Sunday, April 06, 2008

Bonus thought on living in a giant invisible dome

At one point in Midwestern Hemisphere, the giant invisible dome's creator mentions that it would be possible to build a dome that let people inside leave (and air and water through, presumably), but would only let selected people in -- more of a filter than a dome. I really like this idea. Not because I've got people I'd like to keep out of my invisible dome, but because it's so freakin' grisly. Wildly chaotic. Here's why:

Say our hypothetical dome can be made selectively permeable. For certain people and substances (the aforementioned air and water, and food as well), it's like the dome isn't even there. For everything not on the happy list, it's still an impenetrable solid wall. Close to the worst-case scenario: say somebody on the naughty list arrives at the dome. In a bus, traveling at normal speed. The rest of the bus will pass right through the dome. But our guy, when the dome hits him, will be stopped short, just as if he ran at 40mph into a wall. Ouch. But it's worse than that -- not only does he hit the solid dome at speed, he stops, and the bus keeps going. First, he'll be caught between the dome and his seat. The seat will probably snap off, leaving him to be smashed between the dome and the next seat back, and the seat after that, each impact jarring the bus as, essentially, the seats hit an immovable object. It's likely he won't survive his journey through the seating units. He'll likely be mashed to a pulp by the time he hits: the back wall of the bus (which is pretty darn solid -- it's where the engine usually is). Even if his journey through the seating has jarringly slowed the bus, when he hits the back wall he'll turn into a thin layer of goo between the force field and the wall as he absorbs all of the bus's kinetic energy. And the bus will stop dead, the rest of the passengers thrown forward at the bus's sudden stop. It won't be pretty for anyone involved, really.

I mentioned the bus as an almost-worst-case scenario. Even worse: an airplane.

I'll leave it to your imagination to picture the shenanigans you could cause by setting your adjustable semipermeable dome to reject, say, rear-bumper bumper stickers, or wristwatches, or undergarments, or (if you're feeling particularly nasty) molars....

No comments: