The Sci-Fi trilogy Gaia's Wasp is a romance, but not a squishy one. It's full of numbers that could have been pulled out of my ass, because I didn't show my calculations. I didn't show my calculations because math in a romance would be stupid.

Here is the math.

Okay you have to be wondering why I am showing you math. The answer is: Because facts change everything.

Here we go. Much of Gaia's Wasp takes place in a primitive spaceship called the Unexpected Finger.

Drat, spoilers already. But never fear, my spoilers leave out the sexy parts.

Let's start simple. The Finger was a spaceship that weighed four thousand metric tons. That's the same mass as a modern coast-guard cutter, and twice the launch weight of the Space Shuttle. It's also the weight of a boxcar full of gold, according to some guy in the book who didn't show his math because romance.

So was it true? Is a Finger-mass gold nugget the same size as boxcar?

Wow, that's boring. Here is something interesting. This is a picture from Dandelion Slap (Gaia's Wasp Part 2.)


Here's the math: Gold is almost twice as dense as lead, weighing in at an impressive 1.9 104 kg/m3. So a 4000-ton nugget would occupy a volume of (4106kg) / (1.9104kg/m3) = 200 m3.

Is that comparable to a boxcar? Yes. At 200 cubic meters, the volume of a F.E.N. (the Finger-Equivalent Nugget) is near the midpoint of common boxcars. A 50-ft short car holds 150m3, while an 86-ft auto car holds 283m3.

There it was, the first math. It was boring, but kinetic energy is coming up soon.

Back to the subject: One boxcar, even a boxcar full of gold, is not that impressive. If the Finger rammed the Earth, maybe it would just burn up in the atmosphere.

Did I say the Finger rammed the Earth? I didn't mean to say that. And besides, it probably wouldn't hurt us, because our atmosphere is equivalent to four feet of stainless steel. Home