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Old 05-16-2019, 03:35 PM
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How long to level Mt Everest? (I have unlimited funds)


I want to remove Mount Everest, cart away completely and leave a fairly neat, level plain in its place.

I have unlimited funds to do this, but I want to start right away - so I can't wait for new technologies to be developed - I want it done as quickly as possible using current mining, quarrying etc techniques and equipment.

I am happy to employ multiple teams and buy as much duplicate equipment as is necessary, however, we must consider access (only so many teams can practically work on this without getting in each others' way).
All legal permissions are already in place to do whatever we see fit - we can construct as many roads, trains or other transport systems to transport the material away.

We will observe modern western health and safety standards (so for example if we are blasting an area, we're not doing anything else nearby).

Oh, and no nuclear explosives.

So how soon can we make Mount Everest go away, please?

You might be wondering why I want to do this - the answer is simple:
SPOILER:
Because it's there
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Old 05-16-2019, 03:43 PM
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Do you want it at sea level, or merely matching the Tibetan plateau?

There was a guy in India who was really good at getting rid of inconvenient mountains, but unfortunately, it looks like he died a dozen years ago.
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Old 05-16-2019, 03:44 PM
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Level excluding surrounding mountains?
To the level of its plateau or to sea level?

ETA: Or what Chronos said.

Last edited by Saint Cad; 05-16-2019 at 03:45 PM. Reason: Chronos is a ninja
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Old 05-16-2019, 04:08 PM
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It will be a never ending job as the Everest rises every year.
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Old 05-16-2019, 04:52 PM
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It's possible that no amount of money can achieve this goal while observing western health and safety standards.

Like, you could cart away the base of the mountain, but in order to get the stuff off the peak, you either have to (1) cause the mountain to collapse or (2) have someone haul stuff down from the top.

For option 1, I am skeptical that anyone has the engineering skill to properly figure out exactly when the mountain is going to collapse enough to somehow manage to do so safely and get people far enough away. And you'd have to do this many many times.

For option 2, I think the best technology for doing so is having people climb up there and carry it down. And I expect that OSHA is not going to be happy with a 10% death rate of your workers. Even if they were, you can only reasonably get people up there for like a week a year. My first search says that Everest has a mass of about 200 trillion kg. If I model it as a simple cone and we're only worried about getting down below the death zone, then we only care about the top 1000m or so of the total 4500m height, which is only about 5% of the total mass, or about 10 trillion kg.

Looks like there were 800 summits last year, so let's assume 1000 is an achievable goal. Convince each of them to carry 10kg down with them, and you should be there in about a billion years. Sure, you still have to deal with the other 95% of the mountain, but that's the easy 95%.
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Old 05-16-2019, 05:16 PM
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Bringing the mountain down is a trivial exercise: just bore holes and load them with nukes. Start suitably near the top and work your way down. Obviously you want the explosions to be entirely contained within the mountain. Clearing the radio-active rubble safely is the non-trivial part of the exercise. But you have unlimited funds so you build a conveyor belt to a facility where the rubble is melted and vitrified to safely contain the radioactivity.
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Old 05-16-2019, 05:24 PM
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It will be a never ending job as the Everest rises every year.
I came here to say the same thing.
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Old 05-16-2019, 05:25 PM
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It's possible that no amount of money can achieve this goal while observing western health and safety standards.

Like, you could cart away the base of the mountain, but in order to get the stuff off the peak, you either have to (1) cause the mountain to collapse or (2) have someone haul stuff down from the top.
Is 2019 drone technology robust enough to send a steady supply of explosives to the summit? Basically, taking the summit down in many thousands (if not millions) of small bites. The idea being that the detritus makes it's way downhill by and by. After some time, perhaps we get to the point that Everest's summit is whittled down below the erstwhile "death zone".

I note that mangetout mentioned not only unlimited funds, but also no specific time constraints Sending up hundreds and hundreds of drone sorties to drop explosives every single day and night, 365 days a year, for however long, should surely put a dent in that thing eventually.

...

If sufficiently advanced drone technology is available, maybe we can even start talking about optimal placement of explosive charges and stuff like that.
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Old 05-16-2019, 05:29 PM
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Bringing the mountain down is a trivial exercise: just bore holes and load them with nukes. Start suitably near the top and work your way down. Obviously you want the explosions to be entirely contained within the mountain. Clearing the radio-active rubble safely is the non-trivial part of the exercise. But you have unlimited funds so you build a conveyor belt to a facility where the rubble is melted and vitrified to safely contain the radioactivity.
While mangetout stipulated no nukes ... my understanding is that the very most powerful of conventional explosives are a lot more damaging than most people think. Maybe your plan can work with conventional explosives.
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Old 05-16-2019, 05:32 PM
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It's possible that no amount of money can achieve this goal while observing western health and safety standards.

Well I guess it's fortunate for us that Everest sits on the border between Nepal and China.
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Old 05-16-2019, 05:37 PM
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Is 2019 drone technology robust enough to send a steady supply of explosives to the summit?
Full size helicopters can't reach the summit of Everest, so I'm guessing rotor-based drones wouldn't be able to either.

Unless you meant using Predator or Reaper drones to launch a billion Hellfire missiles at it.


Me personally, I would start at the base and hollow it out from the inside.
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Old 05-16-2019, 05:43 PM
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Full size helicopters can't reach the summit of Everest, so I'm guessing rotor-based drones wouldn't be able to either.
A stripped down helicopter made it to the summit about 10 years ago. Granted it was specially designed and had a very skilled pilot but with modern drone technology I'm sure it would be possible. I don't know what it's affected payload would be but you probably wouldn't eat too much to start the process. And funds are Unlimited.
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Old 05-16-2019, 05:44 PM
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He said in the OP that he doesn't want to use nukes.

But you can do the same thing with conventional explosives; it'd just take longer.

EDIT: The "drone" you'd use to deliver explosives would be a rocket.

Last edited by Chronos; 05-16-2019 at 05:45 PM.
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Old 05-16-2019, 06:29 PM
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Some back of the envelope calcs:

Mass of Everest : 160 trillion kg (1.6 x 10^14 kg)

Assuming you will use a jaw crusher or gyratory crusher for breaking down big rocks to transportable chunks. From my early engineering days, iirc, for rocks the crushers needed around 10kJ/kg

So you need around 1.6 or 2x10^15 J of energy or about 2000 TJ.


Itís certainly not that much when you compare to the nuclear yields here - https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuclear_weapon_yield
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Old 05-16-2019, 06:42 PM
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It would take for-evah to blast it with surface impacts. It's granite. It ain't going down easy. You need to drill in and plant explosives inside.

So the FIRST thing you need to do is to build a road that runs to the top. Gonna take a lot of truck loads of explosives, and lots of truck loads of rock going down. Maybe a conveyor belt setup that does both. Fund it with the fees that you can charge to take people up to the top, before it's gone.

Yes, charge $500K each to take one person up when it is still at 29,002, and drop the price as the height decreases. By the time you're below 8000m the cost could be as low as 100K.

Last edited by Just Asking Questions; 05-16-2019 at 06:43 PM.
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Old 05-16-2019, 07:00 PM
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Originally Posted by am77494 View Post
Some back of the envelope calcs:

Mass of Everest : 160 trillion kg (1.6 x 10^14 kg)

Assuming you will use a jaw crusher or gyratory crusher for breaking down big rocks to transportable chunks. From my early engineering days, iirc, for rocks the crushers needed around 10kJ/kg

So you need around 1.6 or 2x10^15 J of energy or about 2000 TJ.


Itís certainly not that much when you compare to the nuclear yields here - https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuclear_weapon_yield
Hm. From Wikipedia, the Ivy King 500-kiloton nuclear test had a yield of 2,100 TJ. According to the NUKEMAP nuclear weapons effects calculator a 500-kiloton surface burst would make a crater that's "only" 70 meters deep and 300 meters in diameter. Granted, I suppose nuking them may not actually be the most efficient way to move mountains, but I'm a bit surprised that the disparity is that great. Naively, I would have thought you'd want a nuclear explosion with a yield sufficient to leave a crater that was a least kinda sorta roughly the size of the mountain you're trying to get rid of.

But thinking about it some more--the goal is to remove the mountain, not vaporize it into a super-hot plasma, or even pulverize it to microscopic radioactive dust particles floating around in the stratosphere. So, nuking it would waste a lot of energy, as opposed to just breaking it up into manageable* chunks and carting it away.
*Given the OP, I suppose we should really say "bite-sized chunks".
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Old 05-16-2019, 07:02 PM
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Not sure why most want to start from the top.

You have one thing in your favour, gravity.

Keep blasting bits off the bottom and use snowmelt to wash the debris away.
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Old 05-16-2019, 07:08 PM
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A stripped down helicopter made it to the summit about 10 years ago. Granted it was specially designed and had a very skilled pilot but with modern drone technology I'm sure it would be possible. I don't know what it's affected payload would be but you probably wouldn't eat too much to start the process. And funds are Unlimited.
NASA is testing drones that could operate on mars, which is a much lower air pressure then Everest.

https://www.nasa.gov/press-release/m...-rover-mission
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Old 05-16-2019, 07:10 PM
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I...
So the FIRST thing you need to do is to build a road that runs to the top. ....
I agree with this, which would also require modified trucks, which have oxygen supplies and engines that could run in that low air pressure. But once those trucks are made it's just a bunch of rock hauling trips.
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Old 05-16-2019, 07:14 PM
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Not sure why most want to start from the top.
Because destabilizing a 200 trillion kg mountain to the point that it collapses is a bad idea.

Last edited by iamthewalrus(:3=; 05-16-2019 at 07:14 PM.
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Old 05-16-2019, 08:33 PM
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Given that you have unlimited funds, here's my offer: I'll work on the question and have an answer for you within two months.

I'll commence to working on the problem upon receipt of your retainer cheque in the amount of £566 million.*


*(and its subsequent clearance at my financial institution. I apologize for the apparent expectation that you might b e inclined to renege on the deal, but look who the titular leader of my nation is!)
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Old 05-16-2019, 08:38 PM
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I agree with this, which would also require modified trucks, which have oxygen supplies and engines that could run in that low air pressure. But once those trucks are made it's just a bunch of rock hauling trips.
Or electric trucks.
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Old 05-16-2019, 09:01 PM
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Because destabilizing a 200 trillion kg mountain to the point that it collapses is a bad idea.
I take the point, but isn't that the whole premise of the OP?
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Old 05-16-2019, 10:05 PM
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Me personally, I would start at the base and hollow it out from the inside.
Besides the destabilization problem, here's also the issue of what exactly constitutes the base of Mt Everest. The base of the mountain blends in with those of the surrounding mountains. This of course, also goes with the question of how low the mountain is to be removed.

As for the drone helicopter using the NASA Mars tech, it might be able to make it to the top, but could it haul an appreciable payload up there? Remember the Earth has three times as much gravity as Mars, and that'll reduce the payload. Also, how often are the weather conditions up there such that the drone can fly? There's more air at the summit than on Mars, but that means the winds are stronger and conditions are likely not suitable most of the time.

Last edited by dtilque; 05-16-2019 at 10:06 PM.
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Old 05-17-2019, 12:07 AM
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I would say that the common usage when someone says "level" something, it's to bring it down to the level of the surrounding area.

Looking at a topo map, Everest could be considered to be more triangular shape but it's not just a mountain by itself. It's part of a chain of them, so, that actually adds to the volume to be removed. But, going easy on ourselves of 3km for H and 5km for the base, we have 2,500,000,000 cubic meters of rock to remove. One of those Baggers can move 240k cubic meters of material a day, which is 28 years.

And, it's electric!
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Old 05-17-2019, 01:06 AM
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Given unlimited money, seems to me we could attack the problem in multiple ways.

OP specifies a neat level plain, but not how big the plain must be--that is, we don't have to make a level plain with the same notional footprint as Everest.

Neither does OP specify the height above sea level. I don't know enough about Everest to figure this out, but let's pick a point above which, if the mountain were removed, you wouldn't bother to go. This'd still be pretty high but below Base Camp.

Next, we have access to B-52s and smart bombs. Money is no object so these are all rebased near Everest and kept flying and filled to bursting so we can pound down the top of the mountain.

Simultaneously, dozens (hundreds?) (WE CAN AFFORD EVERY ONE IN THE WORLD!) of tunnel boring machines are working the base of the mountain. They tunnel in, charges are set off to bring down a massive landslide, and thousands of trucks haul away the rubble. The tunneling machines may be lost because it's too slow to back them out but who cares, here comes the next wave we bought.

As appropriate our B-52s and later C-130s with MOABs keep pummeling the top. At some point the new summit is low enough to land helicopters, meaning the ability to land heavy equipment to keep blowing up the top part of Everest. At this point it gets more efficient because if done right you blast the rubble down the side away from the tunnel borers.

Eventually you probably switch over to all tunnel borers/blasting, and then to a fleet of Baggers.

Given all the money in the world, I'll say 30 years. Completed just in time for humans to go extinct because so many resources were poured into this project instead of combating climate change.
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Old 05-17-2019, 01:46 AM
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Do you want it at sea level, or merely matching the Tibetan plateau?
Down to the general level of the local plateau will do fine for now. Everest Lake can be our next major project.
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Old 05-17-2019, 01:49 AM
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Given that you have unlimited funds, here's my offer: I'll work on the question and have an answer for you within two months.

I'll commence to working on the problem upon receipt of your retainer cheque in the amount of £566 million.*


*(and its subsequent clearance at my financial institution. I apologize for the apparent expectation that you might b e inclined to renege on the deal, but look who the titular leader of my nation is!)
Certainly. Contractors need to sign up to the scheme, for which there is a modest deposit fee, payable in advance.
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Old 05-17-2019, 02:11 AM
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He said in the OP that he doesn't want to use nukes..
D'oh! I missed that. Mea maxima culpa.
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Old 05-17-2019, 05:52 AM
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I agree with this, which would also require modified trucks, which have oxygen supplies and engines that could run in that low air pressure. But once those trucks are made it's just a bunch of rock hauling trips.
Turbo or supercharged engines run fine at 29000 feet, and the drivers can use current mountain climbing oxygen gear, so minimal modification required.
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Old 05-17-2019, 06:30 AM
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Turbo or supercharged engines run fine at 29000 feet, and the drivers can use current mountain climbing oxygen gear, so minimal modification required.
Climbers can only stay at that altitude for a brief period of time, even with supplemental oxygen.
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Old 05-17-2019, 07:15 AM
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Originally Posted by yendis Turbo or supercharged engines run fine at 29000 feet, and the drivers can use current mountain climbing oxygen gear, so minimal modification required.
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Climbers can only stay at that altitude for a brief period of time, even with supplemental oxygen.
I'd think the driver of the high altitude mining vehicle would be in a pressurised vehicle cab breathing pumped-in air compressed to something like 1 ATM. That much is achievable with current technology. Getting the vehicle up the side of them mountain is going to be another matter. Probably requiring more than minimal modification.

Last edited by Wrenching Spanners; 05-17-2019 at 07:19 AM.
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Old 05-17-2019, 08:18 AM
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Climbers can only stay at that altitude for a brief period of time, even with supplemental oxygen.
I fairly regularly spend four or five hours at a time at higher elevations than Everest, with minimal effects. There are even people who do it nearly every day, as a job (some of them on this board). I'm pretty sure we could apply the same technology to trucks and bulldozers, if money was no object. People would still need to get out of the cab once in a while, but if you've got a vehicle to carry your oxygen, you can bring enough so that your mask goes at a high enough rate that an hour here or there won't create health issues, I would think.
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Old 05-17-2019, 08:23 AM
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You could always call the black-hatted XKCD guy.

If you don't get the punchline of that, read this and this.
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Old 05-17-2019, 08:38 AM
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"Finally! We finished levelling Ever...

Hey! Where'd this other mountain come from?"

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Old 05-17-2019, 08:44 AM
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After you're done leveling it, you're going to put it back, right?

Like the song?



You know,

First there is a mountain
Then there is no mountain
Then there is.
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Old 05-17-2019, 09:10 AM
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You might be wondering why I want to do this
I'm assuming you want to build a mall at the previous site of Mt Everest. You know malls haven't been doing all that well, right?
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Old 05-17-2019, 09:28 AM
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I'm assuming you want to build a mall at the previous site of Mt Everest. You know malls haven't been doing all that well, right?
Or a parking lot for the Sherpas.
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Old 05-17-2019, 09:35 AM
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I don't understand all this talk about "safety" and "optimum placement of munitions", etc. Just make an announcement to the population that there will be incessant B-52 bombing of the mountain until it is reduced to rubble. They can drop MOABs, which cause the most damage there is short of nuclear weapons.
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Old 05-17-2019, 10:03 AM
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Call Jimi, He'll chop it down, with the edge of his hand.
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Old 05-17-2019, 11:30 AM
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I want it done as quickly as possible using current mining, quarrying etc techniques and equipment.
Oh, so I guess the old fashioned way of rubbing it down a bit with a little birdie's beak every 1000 years is not going to work for you?

Last edited by Hermitian; 05-17-2019 at 11:31 AM.
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Old 05-17-2019, 11:53 AM
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Using the worst possible collection of half assed numbers, I think we would need to move the entire volume of the top 10 largest open pit mines in the world 23 times over.

You don't take it from the top down and you don't remove it from the bottom up and you don't drop bombs on it. You drill and shoot controlled explosions to create multiple huge networks of terraces and ramps.
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Old 05-17-2019, 11:57 AM
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You would likely use very long conveyor belts, uses far fewer trucks and roads, and additionally you dont need a road up the outside -

Build access to the higher levels with tunnels - so no worry about the weather, which is the main cause of death on Everest. The tunnels can go to the outside eventually but it would be easier to cut away most of the rock from the inside. It would also enable 24 hour working.
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Old 05-17-2019, 12:02 PM
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I would take 100 years and 6 trillion dollars.
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Old 05-17-2019, 01:12 PM
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You could always call the black-hatted XKCD guy.

If you don't get the punchline of that, read this and this.
I was going to say, this sounds like a problem for XKCD's What If?

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I don't understand all this talk about "safety" and "optimum placement of munitions", etc. Just make an announcement to the population that there will be incessant B-52 bombing of the mountain until it is reduced to rubble. They can drop MOABs, which cause the most damage there is short of nuclear weapons.
The MOAB would be really effective against people, but I don't think it's great for blasting away rock. It's an air burst weapon, so most of the energy from the bomb would just be dissipated in displacing air. If you wanted to blast away the mountain, you'd probably have to use bunker busters of some sort.



I tend to think the directional drill/explosives method that sitchensis mentioned would be the way to go, setting off a series of landslides. Assuming we just need to level it down to base camp, we'd have to move ~60 billion m3 of material... so a couple thousand Frank Slides or so.

Last edited by Delayed Reflex; 05-17-2019 at 01:13 PM.
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Old 05-17-2019, 01:32 PM
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I take the point, but isn't that the whole premise of the OP?
Well, we can argue over whether the OP is a bad idea but the OP specifies doing this with Western Health and Safety standards.

I don't think it's possible to trigger that kind of collapse for any remotely reasonable definition of safety.

Think about how the process goes. You start carting away the base. Small collapses occur. The remaining mountain gets higher, steeper, and more unstable. bigger collapses occur. At some point you have a really high really big really unstable mountain and it falls way the hell over. How big a boom does it make? How do you get the people who are hauling rock away out in time?

The idea of using drones to deliver explosives to the top may be the most workable solution.
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Old 05-17-2019, 04:47 PM
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If we just blow up the mountain, or reduce it to rubble - don't we just have a pile of (smaller) rocks basically the same size as when we started?
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Old 05-17-2019, 04:55 PM
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Originally Posted by penultima thule View Post
Not sure why most want to start from the top. . . .
So that people won't notice until it's too late.

I say train yetis with backpacks. They can see in the dark, right? That's why no one ever sees them. Start with maybe 20, each taking down, say 100 pounds per week (because they can climb faster than people). As they get used to the process, add more yeti. Maybe get a bucket brigade line going.

How long will it take? I think I'll let the yetis do the math. They're good at math.
  #49  
Old 05-17-2019, 08:42 PM
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Redirect a large enough or enough smaller NEO space rocks to vaporize it from above. Would solve the earth warming side of climate change as a side benefit.
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  #50  
Old 05-17-2019, 08:53 PM
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Build several nuclear reactors to power a giant fricken laser beam.
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It may be because I'm a drooling simpleton with the attention span of a demented gnat, but would you mind explaining everything in words of one syllable. 140 chars max.
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