I’m currently writing up the fourth part in our installment on fighter planes. In my research on nuclear weapons, I’ve come across what might be Elon Musk’s most retarded idea yet.

Daily Mail:

Elon Musk has revealed more details of his controversial plan to bomb Mars.

Well I guess we’ve got to spread democracy there as well. Do the Martians have some sort of natural resource for us to exploit, or is this purely for the geopolitical interest of the Israel Lobby?

The SpaceX and Tesla founder was speaking at the launch of a new solar panel from another of his firms, Solar City.

He said the plan would use a new type of ‘pulse bomb’ to create two suns in the Martian atmosphere to warm the planet.

But Mars… doesn’t have an atmosphere. Am I missing something. Hold on, let me check.

Earth How:

Mars has a much thinner atmospheric volume compared to Earth. Earth’s atmosphere is over 100x denser than Mars.

Wow Elon. Thanks, bud. Sure, we won’t be able to actually, you know, breathe on Mars, but we’ll be nice, cozy and warm with our nuclear bomb sun-substitutes so that we can play around in the pool with our oxygen tanks strapped on. Kind of like diving but in space. Or at least we can for the single second it takes the nuclear reaction to completely finish. So I don’t think Musk has thought this through unless he’s got a plan to –

‘Every several seconds,’ Musk continued ‘send large fusion bombs over the poles.’ 

Every couple of seconds, we just, you know, have an entire thermonuclear bomb exploding over each pole on Mars. And then this bathes Mars in enough thermal radiation that it warms up the entire planet.

I mean, I’m not even sure that would be enough. There is about 173 petawatts of energy from the sun reaching the Earth at any moment in time. That works out to 173 petajoules per second. A one megaton nuclear warhead releases a total of just 4.184 petajoules of energy. So a single nuclear warhead detonating releases about 1/40th of the energy that the sun bathes the earth in every second. Musk is detonating two at a time, and yet he’s still 1/20th of the required energy. Mars, at 144.8 million square kilometers has about one third the surface area of Earth. Assuming it needs proportional heating, we’re only about 6x off.

Except that I just assumed that all the energy hits mars. There is… no reason to believe this, because much of the energy will radiate away into space. 

It’s not worth my precious time to calculate the percentage of radiation that would actually hit Mars, as opposed to going out into space, but if we assume 80% waste, which is optimistic, we’re left with a best case scenario of something like 1/30th the energy requirements. And of course, we only detonate these “every few seconds,” unlike the sun, which provides us with constant energy, so go ahead and divide again by the time interval in between nukes. 

It might theoretically be possible, for some specific goal of heating, such as melting underground ice, to get away with that amount of energy. Musk doesn’t bother actually proving this, or really even explaining why he wants to heat up Mars so badly, but we can just ignore that for now, because Musk simply assumes that transporting Megaton sized warheads to Mars is… like, no big deal.

This is extra stupid, because Musk owns a rocket company, but let me go ahead and try to calculate just the fuel requirements for transporting a 1,000 lbs nuclear warhead to Mars every two seconds. Unfortunately there are no rockets that we have that are ready to go to Mars, so we’re going to have to figure out the fuel expenditure.

Saturn V Rocket.

Here we see the Saturn V rocket, which weighed over six and a half million pounds, and carried a payload of just a touch more than three hundred thousand pounds to Low Earth Orbit. It sent just ninety thousand pounds to the Moon. I’ll just go ahead and wave a magic wand, and say that you don’t need to consume any more fuel to send a payload of 90,000 lbs to Mars. The Saturn V was almost entirely fuel, carrying over six million pounds just in fuel. So we’re going to pretend that you only need six million pounds of fuel to transfer 90 megaton sized nuclear warheads.

Oh but also, you need two of them, since Musk wants you to detonate nukes at both poles every two seconds. So you need to transfer a nuke every second, which means every 90 seconds you’re gonna need another six million pounds of rocket fuel. That works out to 240 million pounds of fuel required per hour, and 5.76 billion pounds of fuel consumed per day. 

At about 90 million barrels of oil produced by the entire world per day, and 250lbs of fuel per barrel, the entire worlds fuel supply is around 22.5 billion lbs of fuel. Let’s ignore the practical aspect of physically transporting around all that fuel, and we still have dumbfuck Elon consuming 25% of the entire worlds fuel supply just so that he can nuke Mars. And again, that’s just the rocket fuel itself.

All of which assumes that you can just continuously produce nuclear warheads, which is probably even more limiting. There is about 140 million pounds of Uranium mined per year, of which only about 0.72% is U-235, which is what we need for our nuclear bombs. That’s about 1 million pounds of enriched Uranium that we can use per year, assuming it all goes into nuclear weapons. 

Let’s say that we only need 100 lbs of enriched Uranium for our nuke. For perspective, the US W80 warhead, with just 150 KT max yield, weighs 290 lbs. But we’re playing Make Belief with Elon right now, so we only need 100 lbs of Uranium per nuke. Even if that were true, since we need to create a nuke every single second, at 86,400 seconds in the day we need 8.64 million pounds of U-235 per day, or 3.1536 billion pounds per year. 

So all we need is 3.15 billion of the 1 million pounds of U-235 produced every year. So all we need to do is increase Uranium mining by 300,000%.

Even if we assumed that he somehow has enough nuclear-created energy actually hitting the planet itself to warm up Mars to some unspecified degree, and even if we give absurdly optimistic fuel consumption numbers, to the point where it costs no more fuel to go to Mars versus the Moon, so we aren’t using more than the entire world’s fuel consumption just in terms of the rockets themselves, and even if we assumed that we could somehow, someway just snap our fingers and materialize into existance 3,000x more Uranium on the planet, we would still need to cope with the practical difficulty of navigating the nuclear bombs into the right spot on the poles without getting damaged by the other nuclear bombs that are going off just in front of them.

If you’ve gotten this far, you have already given this ludicrous idea more thought than Elon has. He said this back in 2015, and nothing has come of it since, because Elon said it so that people would think he was cool, not because he had any sort of actual plan to achieve this. The guy is the ultimate “ideas guy.” He “invents,” the idea that something would be cool, and then leaves the tricky engineering implementation details to someone else.

The guy may be one of the greatest examples of fraudulent genius in our times.

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